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Long referred to as Nubia, modern-day Sudan was the site of the Kingdom of Kerma (ca. 2500-1500 B.C.) until it was absorbed into the New Kingdom of Egypt. By the 11th century B.C., the Kingdom of Kush gained independence from Egypt; it lasted in various forms until the middle of the 4th century A.D. After the fall of Kush, the Nubians formed three Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria, and Alodia. The latter two endured until around 1500. Between the 14th and 15th centuries much of Sudan was settled by Arab nomads, and between the 16th–19th centuries it underwent extensive Islamization. Following Egyptian occupation early in the 19th century, the British established an Anglo-Egyptian Sudan - nominally a condominium, but in effect a British colony.

Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since Sudan gained independence from Anglo-Egyptian co-rule in 1956. The 30-year reign of President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-BASHIR, following months of nationwide protests, ended with the military forcing him out in April 2019. In July 2019, the country’s Transitional Military Council signed an agreement with the Forces for Freedom and Change (an umbrella group of civilian actors) to form a transitional government under a Constitutional Declaration. Economist and former international civil servant Abdalla HAMDOUK al-Kinani was selected to serve as prime minister of a transitional government, which was to have guided the country to credible democratic elections in late 2022. In October 2021, the Sudanese military organized a takeover that ousted Prime Minister HAMDOUK and his government and replaced civilian members of the Sovereign Council (Sudan’s collective Head of State) with individuals selected by the military. HAMDOUK was briefly reinstated in November 2021 but resigned in January 2022.As of June 2023, General Abd-al-Fatah al-BURHAN Abd-al-Rahman, the Chair of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, serves as de facto head of state and government. He presides over a Sovereign Council consisting of military leaders, former armed opposition group representatives, and civilians appointed by the military. A cabinet of acting ministers handles day-to-day administration. These acting ministers are either senior civil servants (some appointed by former Prime Minister HAMDOUK and some selected by the military) or holdover ministers from Prime Minister HAMDOUK’s former cabinet who were appointed by former armed opposition groups that the military allowed to remain in their positions. The Sudanese Armed Forces have been embroiled in a fight with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces since mid-April 2023.

During most of the second half of the 20th century, Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of the largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern portion of the country. The first civil war ended in 1972, but another broke out in 1983. Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-04, and the final North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in January 2005, granted the southern rebels autonomy for six years followed by a referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. South Sudan became independent in July 2011, but Sudan and South Sudan have yet to fully implement security and economic agreements relating to the normalization of relations between the two countries.

In the 21st century, Sudan faced conflict in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile starting in 2003, and between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in 2023, sparking mass displacement.