Sahara Territory


Northern Sudan map.

Total population: +/- 40 millions.
Saharan population: +/- 12 millions (30%).
Total population density: 16 hab/km2.
Saharan population density: 12 hab/km2.
Ethnics: Diverse negroid peoples and a minority of arabs in the north.
Languages: Arabic, english and a range of tribal languages.
Religions: 70% islamic, 25% animist and 5% christian.
Life expectancy: 55 years.

Sudan is a very poor and problematic country. Conflicts are endemic in the region, either because of religious causes, as happened in the sudanese civil war, or because of resources scarcity, as happened in the Darfur conflicts. Around 1.2 million people have to live in about 130 squalid refugee camps scattered along the provinces of Darfur in Sudan and Ennedi in Chad.

Ethnicity is generally negroid in the entire country, but in the northern half of the country population is influenced by arabian culture, and also the government is one of arab influence. This is a major cause of unrest within the non-arab population, which feels relegated by the government.

In the image below, two nubian girls. The nubians have lived for thousands of years in the region known as Nubia, which includes the northern end of Sudan and southern Egypt. The nubians are mainly settled along the Nile between the first and sixth waterfalls. In ancient times, Nubia was an independent kingdom known as Kush, that often was at war with the egyptians and frequently traded with these, the greeks and the romans (the decadent Egyptian Empire was eventually submitted by foreign peoples, such as the greeks and later the romans).

Sudanese nubian girls.

The second capital of the Kingdom of Kush was Napata (after Kerma, the primitive capital that was abandoned when it was razed by the egyptians), located where today lies the town of Marawi. In this town is located the archaelogical site of Jebel Barkal, which contains some small pyramids. When Napata was attacked and razed, the capital was transferred to Meroe. The ruins of Meroe are located 85 km south-south-west of Atbara and conform the most important archaeological site of Sudan.

Left image: Meroe, second capital of the Kingdom of Kush, contains necropolis full of small pyramids, many of which could not endure the pass of time. The royal cemetery of Meroe was used, approximately, between 300 BC and 350 AC.

Right image: The roman kiosk of Naga, located around 85 km south-west of Meroe, was probably built in the first century AC. The Kingdom of Kush, heir of the pharaonic civilization, built along the Nile, between the fifth and sixth waterfalls, temples and palaces where egyptian, roman and greek elements merge in fusion. The kiosk was built next to the ruins of the Temple of Apedemak, the meroitic god that was worshiped in Kush along with the egyptian god Amon. The kiosk could have been used to guard the statues used in the courtships.

The ancient pyramids of Meroe. The roman kiosk of Naga.

The nubians conquered one time Egypt and reigned on it during 70 years until they were drove out and returned to their homeland Kush. Since then, the art in Kush was heavily influenced by the egyptian art during centuries. Eventually, the local meroitic arts and scripts started to gradually replace the egyptian arts and scripts in Nubia, until these were finally abandoned. Kush thrived while trade with the romans was possible, but eventually the roman presence in the region weakened and this allowed the irruption of a foreign people that settled between Kush and Egypt, difficulting the contact between these two empires and therefore damaging the economy in Kush. The Kingdom of Kush entered into decadence, being later replaced by three new nubian kingdoms: Nobatia, Makuria and Alwa.

These new kingdoms were eventually converted to the coptic religion of Alejandria around 400-500 DC. When the arabs attacked North Africa, the nubians resisted their invasion, and the arabs, new owners of Egypt, accepted to sign a trade agreement with the nubians. The nubians maintained their coptic religion during centuries and byzantine temples spread across Nubia, while trading with the arabs continued and arabian nomads were allowed to enter into the nubian kingdoms. Eventually the arabs found a pretext to attack the nubian kingdoms, in the time of the Crusades in Palestine, and although their attacks were not immediately succesful, they gradually managed to dominate the nubian kingdoms and isolate the nubian people from their christian religion, leading them to adopt the islamism out of choices.

Left image: the columns of the temple of Musawwarat Es Sufra, next to Naga. This temple, probably built around 300 AC, could have been the place where the king was crowned, and maybe, where he hunted elephants, when the arid Sahel was a more fertile savannah.

Right image: a set of golden objects found in the archaeological excavations. An ewer and pincers found in King Aspelta's tomb. King Aspelta was buried around 500 BC. He reigned in Nuri, a town located in front of Napata, in the opposite side of the Nile. Nuri was the main royal cemetery until it was replaced by Meroe around 300 AC. A sheat, probably used to store rolled papyri with protective incantations written on them, decorated with engravings depicting winged godesses and reliefs depicting cobras, ram heads and papyrus plants. And finally, an earring in the form of a ram head with a solar disc.

The temple at Musawwarat Es Sufra. Golden objects from the Kingdom of Kush.

Along the sudanese arid savannah of the Sahel some nomadic tribes raise their herds of goats.

A baggara shepherd.

A young kababich girl. The baggara people (upper image), of arabian language, and the kababich people (left image), raise their herds in the arid savannah of the northern Kordofan.

Sudan Geography


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