Map of Sudan
The Republic of Sudan is a country in northeastern Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. The world's longest river, the Nile, divides the country between east and west sides.
The people of Sudan have a long history extending from antiquity which is intertwined with the history of Egypt, with which it was united politically over several periods. After gaining independence from Egypt and the United Kingdom in 1956, Sudan suffered seventeen years of civil war during the First Sudanese Civil War (1955-1972) followed by ethnic, religious and economic conflicts between the Northern Sudanese (with mainly Nubian and Arab roots), and the Christian and animist Nilotes of Southern Sudan. This led to the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983, and because of continuing political and military struggles, Sudan was seized in a bloodless coup detat by colonel Omar al-Bashir in 1989, who thereafter proclaimed himself President of Sudan. The civil war ended with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement which granted autonomy to the southern region of the country. Following a referendum held in January 2011, Southern Sudan will secede on 9 July 2011.
A member of the United Nations, Sudan also maintains membership with the African Union, the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as serving as an observer in World Trade Organization. Its capital is Khartoum, which serves as the political, cultural and commercial centre of the nation, while Omdurman is the largest city. Officially a federal presidential representative democratic republic, the politics of Sudan are widely considered by the international community to take place within an authoritarian dictatorship due to the influence of the National Congress Party (NCP). These factors led to the termination of diplomatic relations between Sudan and Chad, obstruction of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population and war crimes charges being issued against members of the Sudanese government.
On 4 March 2008, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, the first sitting head of state ever indicted by the ICC. And on 12 July 2010, the ICC issued a second arrest warrant for al-Bashir, adding the charge of genocide.