By the eighth millennium BC, people of a Neolithic culture had settled into a sedentary way of life there in fortified mudbrick villages, where they supplemented hunting and fishingon the Nile with grain gathering and cattleherding. During the fifth millennium BC migrations from the drying Sahara brought neolithic people into the Nile Valley along with agriculture. The population that resulted from this cultural and genetic mixing developed social hierarchy over the next centuries become the Kingdom of Kush (with the capital at Kerma) at 1700 BC.
Anthropological and archaeological research indicate that during the predynastic period Nubia and Nagadan Upper Egypt were ethnically, and culturally nearly identical, and thus, simultaneously evolved systems of pharaonic kingship by 3300 BC.
Kingdom of Kush (1070 BC–AD 350)
The Kingdom of Kush was an ancient Nubianstate centered on the confluences of the Blue Nile and White Nile, and the Atbarah River and the Nile River. It was established after the Bronze Age collapse and the disintegration of the New Kingdom of Egypt, centered at Napata in its early phase.
After King Kashta ("the Kushite") invaded Egypt in the eighth century BC, the Kushite kings ruled as pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt for a century before being defeated and driven out by the Assyrians. At the height of their glory, the Kushites conquered an empire that stretched from what is now known as South Kordofan all the way to the Sinai. Pharaoh Piye attempted to expand the empire into the Near East, but was thwarted by the Assyrian king Sargon II. The Kingdom of Kush is mentioned in the Bible as having saved the Israelites from the wrath of the Assyrians, although disease among the besiegers was the main reason for the failure to take the city.
The war that took place between Pharaoh Taharqa and the Assyrian king Sennacheribwas a decisive event in western history, with the Nubians being defeated in their attempts to gain a foothold in the Near East by Assyria. Sennacherib's successor Esarhaddon went further, and invaded Egypt itself, deposing Taharqa and driving the Nubians from Egypt entirely. Taharqa fled back to his homeland where he died two years later. Egypt became an Assyrian colony; however, king Tantamani, after succeeding Taharqa, made a final determined attempt to regain Egypt. Esarhaddon died while preparing to leave the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in order to eject him. However, his successor Ashurbanipal (668 – c. 627 BC) sent a large army into southern Egypt and routed Tantamani, ending all hopes of a revival of the Nubian Empire.
During Classical Antiquity, the Nubian capital was at Meroë. In ancient Greekgeography, the Meroitic kingdom was known as Ethiopia (a term also used earlier by the Assyrians when encountering the Nubians). The civilization of Kush was among the first in the world to use iron smelting technology. The Nubian kingdom at Meroë persisted until the fourth century AD. After the collapse of the Kushite empire several states emerged in its former territories, among them Nubia.
Christianity and Islam
By the 6th century, fifty states had emerged as the political and cultural heirs of the Meroitic Kingdom. Nobatia in the north, also known as Ballanah, had its capital at Faras; the central kingdom, Muqurra (Makuria), was centred at Tungul (Old Dongola), about 13 kilometres (8 miles) south of modern Dongola; and Alawa (Alodia), in the heartland of old Meroë, which had its capital at Soba (now a suburb of modern-day Khartoum).
In all three kingdoms, warrior aristocracies ruled Meroitic populations from royal courts where functionaries bore Greek titles in emulation of the Byzantine court. A missionary sent by Byzantine empress Theodora arrived in Nobatia and started preaching Christianity about 540 AD. The Nubian kings became Monophysite Christians. However, Makuria was a Melkite Christian, unlike Nobatia and Alodia.
After many attempts at military conquest failed, the Arab commander in Egypt concluded the first in a series of regularly renewed treaties known as al-baqṭ (pactum) with the Nubians that governed relations between the two peoples for more than 678 years. Islam progressed in the area over a long period of time through intermarriage and contacts with Arab merchants, Sufi asceticsand settlers. Additionally, exemption from taxation in regions under Muslim rule were also a powerful incentive for conversion. In 1093, a Muslim prince of Nubian royal blood ascended the throne of Dunqulah as king. The two most important Arab tribes to emerge in Nubia were the Ja'alin and the Juhaynah. Today's northern Sudanese culture often combines Nubian and Arabic elements.
During the 16th century, the Funj people under Amara Dunqus, appeared in southern Nubia and supplanted the remnants of the old Christian kingdom of Alodia, establishing as-Saltana az-Zarqa (the Blue Sultanate), also called Sennar. The Blue Sultanate eventually became the keystone of the Funj Empire. By the mid-16th century, Sennar controlled Al Jazirah and commanded the allegiance of vassal states and tribal districts north to the Third Cataract and south to the rainforests. The government was substantially weakened by a series of succession arguments and coups within the royal family. In 1820, Muhammad Ali of Egypt sent 4000 troops to invade Sudan. His forces accepted Sennar's surrender from the last Funj sultan, Badi VII.
Turkiyah and Mahdist Sudan
In 1821, the Ottoman ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, had invaded and conquered northern Sudan. Although technically the Vali of Egypt under the Ottoman Empire, Muhammad Ali styled himself as Khedive of a virtually independent Egypt. Seeking to add Sudan to his domains, he sent his third son Ismail (not to be confused with Isma'il Pashamentioned later) to conquer the country, and subsequently incorporate it into Egypt. This policy was expanded and intensified by Ibrahim Pasha's son, Isma'il, under whose reign most of the remainder of modern-day Sudan was conquered.
The Egyptian authorities made significant improvements to the Sudanese infrastructure (mainly in the north), especially with regard to irrigation and cotton production. In 1879, the Great Powers forced the removal of Ismail and established his son Tewfik Pasha in his place. Tewfik's corruption and mismanagement resulted in the ‘Urabi Revolt, which threatened the Khedive's survival. Tewfik appealed for help to the British, who subsequently occupied Egypt in 1882. Sudan was left in the hands of the Khedivial government, and the mismanagement and corruption of its officials.
During the Khedivial period, wide spread dissent had spread due to harsh taxation's imposed on most activities. Taxation on irrigation wells and farming lands were so high most farmers abandoned their farms and live stock. During the 1870s, European initiatives against the slave trade had an adverse impact on the economy of northern Sudan, precipitating the rise of Mahdist forces. Muhammad Ahmad ibn Abd Allah, the Mahdi(Guided One), offered to the ansars (his followers) and those who surrendered to him a choice between adopting Islam or being killed. The Mahdiyah (Mahdist regime) imposed traditional Sharia Islamic laws.
From his announcement of the Mahdiyya in June 1881 until the fall of Khartoum in January 1885, Muhammad Ahmad led a successful military campaign against the Turco-Egyptian government of the Sudan, known as the Turkiyah. Muhammad Ahmad died on 22 June 1885, a mere six months after the conquest of Khartoum. After a power struggle amongst his deputies, Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, with the help primarily of the Baggara of western Sudan, overcame the opposition of the others and emerged as unchallenged leader of the Mahdiyah. After consolidating his power, Abdallahi ibn Muhammad assumed the title of Khalifa (successor) of the Mahdi, instituted an administration, and appointed Ansar (who were usually Baqqara) as emirs over each of the several provinces.
Regional relations remained tense throughout much of the Mahdiyah period, largely because of the Khalifa's brutal methods to extend his rule throughout the country. In 1887, a 60,000-man Ansar army invaded Ethiopia, penetrating as far as Gondar. In March 1889, king Yohannes IV of Ethiopia marched on Metemma; however, after Yohannes fell in battle, the Ethiopian forces withdrew. Abd ar Rahman an Nujumi, the Khalifa's general, attempted an invasion of Egypt in 1889, but British-led Egyptian troops defeated the Ansar at Tushkah. The failure of the Egyptian invasion broke the spell of the Ansar's invincibility. The Belgians prevented the Mahdi's men from conquering Equatoria, and in 1893, the Italians repelled an Ansar attack at Agordat (in Eritrea) and forced the Ansar to withdraw from Ethiopia.
In the 1890s, the British sought to re-establish their control over Sudan, once more officially in the name of the Egyptian Khedive, but in actuality treating the country as a British colony. By the early 1890s, British, French and Belgian claims had converged at the Nileheadwaters. Britain feared that the other powers would take advantage of Sudan's instability to acquire territory previously annexed to Egypt. Apart from these political considerations, Britain wanted to establish control over the Nile to safeguard a planned irrigation dam at Aswan.
Herbert Kitchener led military campaigns against the Mahdist Sudan from 1896 to 1898. Kitchener's campaigns culminated in a decisive victory in the Battle of Omdurman on 2 September 1898.
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (1899–1956)
In 1899, Britain and Egypt reached an agreement under which Sudan was run by a governor-general appointed by Egypt with British consent. In reality Sudan was effectively administered as a Crown colony. The British were keen to reverse the process, started under Muhammad Ali Pasha, of uniting the Nile Valley under Egyptian leadership, and sought to frustrate all efforts aimed at further uniting the two countries.
During World War II, Sudan was directly involved militarily in the East African Campaign. Formed in 1925, the Sudan Defence Force (SDF) played an active part in responding to the early incursions (occupation by Italian troops of Kassala and other border areas) into the Sudan from Italian East Africa during 1940. In 1942, the SDF also played a part in the invasion of the Italian colony by British and Commonwealth forces. From 1924 until independence in 1956, the British had a policy of running Sudan as two essentially separate territories, the north and south. The last British governor-general was Robert George Howe.
The continued British administration of Sudan fueled an increasingly strident nationalist backlash in Egypt, with Egyptian nationalist leaders determined to force Britain to recognise a single independent union of Egypt and Sudan. With the formal end of Ottoman rule in 1914, Hussein Kamel was declared Sultan of Egypt and Sudan, as was his brother and successor, Fuad I. They continued their insistence of a single Egyptian-Sudanese state even when the Sultanate of Egypt was retitled as the Kingdom of Egypt and Sudan, but the British continued to frustrate such reaches for independence.
The Egyptian revolution of 1952 finally heralded the beginning of the march towards Sudanese independence. Having abolished the monarchy in 1953, Egypt's new leaders, Muhammad Naguib, whose mother was Sudanese, and later Gamal Abdel Nasser, believed the only way to end British domination in Sudan was for Egypt to officially abandon its claims of sovereignty over Sudan. In addition Nasser knew it would be difficult for Egypt to govern the impoverished Sudan after independence.
The British on the other hand continued their political and financial support for the Mahdist successor, Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi, who, they believed, could resist the Egyptian pressures for Sudanese independence. Rahman was able to resist the pressures, but his regime was plagued with political ineptitude, which garnered him a loss of support in northern and central Sudan. Egypt and Britain both sensed a great political instability forming, and opted to allow the Sudanese in the north and south to have a free vote on independence to see whether they wished for a British withdrawal.
A polling process was carried out resulting in composition of a democratic parliament and Ismail al-Azhari was elected first Prime Minister and led the first modern Sudanese government. On 1 January 1956, in a special ceremony held at the People's Palace, the Egyptian and British flags were lowered and the new Sudanese flag, composed of green, blue and yellow stripes, was raised in their place by the prime minister Ismail al-Azhari.
Dissatisfaction culminated in a second coup d'état on 25 May 1969. The coup leader, Col. Gaafar Nimeiry, became prime minister, and the new regime abolished parliament and outlawed all political parties.
Disputes between Marxist and non-Marxist elements within the ruling military coalition resulted in a briefly successful coup in July 1971, led by the Sudanese Communist Party. Several days later, anti-communist military elements restored Nimeiry to power.
In 1972, the Addis Ababa Agreement led to a cessation of the north-south civil war and a degree of self-rule. This led to ten years hiatus in the civil war.
Until the early 1970s, Sudan's agricultural output was mostly dedicated to internal consumption. In 1972, the Sudanese government became more pro-Western, and made plans to export food and cash crops. However, commodity prices declined throughout the 1970s causing economic problems for Sudan. At the same time, debt servicing costs, from the money spent mechanizing agriculture, rose. In 1978, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) negotiated a Structural Adjustment Program with the government. This further promoted the mechanized export agriculture sector. This caused great economic problems for the pastoralists of Sudan (See Nuba Peoples).
In 1976, the Ansars mounted a bloody but unsuccessful coup attempt. In July 1977, President Nimeiry met with Ansar leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, opening the way for reconciliation. Hundreds of political prisoners were released, and in August a general amnesty was announced for all opponents of Nimeiry's government.
On 30 June 1989, Colonel Omar al-Bashir led a bloodless military coup. The new military government suspended political parties and introduced an Islamic legal code on the national level. Later al-Bashir carried out purges and executions in the upper ranks of the army, the banning of associations, political parties, and independent newspapers, and the imprisonment of leading political figures and journalists. On 16 October 1993, al-Bashir appointed himself "President" and disbanded the Revolutionary Command Council. The executive and legislative powers of the council were taken by al-Bashir.
In the 1996 general election he was the only candidate by law to run for election. Sudan became a one-party state under the National Congress Party (NCP). During the 1990s, Hassan al-Turabi, then Speaker of the National Assembly, reached out to Islamic fundamentalist groups, invited Osama bin Laden to the country. The United States subsequently listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. The U.S. bombed Sudan in 1998, targeting the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory. Later, al-Turabi's influence waned, in favor of more pragmatic leaders who focused on trying to change international isolation. Sudan worked to appease its critics by expelling members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and encouraging bin Laden to leave.
Before the 2000 presidential election, al-Turabi introduced a bill to reduce the President's powers, prompting al-Bashir to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency. When al-Turabi urged a boycott of the President's re-election campaign and signed an agreement with Sudan People's Liberation Army, al-Bashir suspected they were plotting to overthrow him and the government, which resulted in the jailing of Hassan al-Turabi that same year.
In February 2003, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) groups in Darfur took up arms, accusing the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in favor of Sudanese Arabs, precipitating the War in Darfur. The conflict has since been described as a genocide, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two arrest warrantsfor al-Bashir.Arabic-speaking nomads militias known as the Janjaweed have been accused of many atrocities.
On 9 January 2005, the Nairobi Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government, with the objective of ending the Second Sudanese Civil War. The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) was established under the UN Security Council Resolution 1590 to support its implementation. The peace agreement led to the 2011 referendum which resulted in the secession of South Sudan; the region of Abyei is to hold its own referendum in the future.
The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) was the primary member of the Eastern Front, a coalition of rebel groups operating in eastern Sudan. After the peace agreement, their place was taken in February 2004 after the merger of the larger Hausa and Beja Congress with the smaller Rashaida Free Lions. A peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the Eastern Front was signed on 14 October 2006, in Asmara.
On 5 May 2006, the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed, aiming at ending the three-year-long conflict. The Chad–Sudan Conflict (2005–2007) erupted after the Battle of Adré, which led to the declaration of war by Chad. The leaders of Sudan and Chad signed an agreement in Saudi Arabia on 3 May 2007 to stop fighting from the Darfur conflict along their countries' 1,000-kilometre (600 mi) border.
In July 2007 the country was hit by flooding, with over 400,000 people being directly affected. Since 2009, a series of ongoing conflicts between rival nomadic tribes in Sudan and South Sudan have resulted in a large number of casualties. The Sudan internal conflict in the early 2010s between the Army of Sudan and the Sudan Revolutionary Front started as a dispute over the oil-rich region of Abyei in the months leading up to South Sudanese independence, though it is also related to the nominally resolved war in Darfur.