Sudan or also known as the north Sudan has a remarkable history and a rich archaeological heritage. This culturally diverse country is situated in an area extending southward from Egypt in the north to the northern frontier of South Sudan in the equatorial belt, and from the Red Sea in the east to the African interior in the west.
Throughout the millennia, Sudan has served as a zone of contact among the peoples of central Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Arab world. In January 1899 the border between Egypt and Sudan was fixed along the 22nd Parallel, just north of the 2nd Nile cataract. Many ancient cultures that flourished here straddle this modern political border. Traditionally, the major cultural frontier was located in the region of the 1st cataract although it did fluctuate at various times.
Sudan was known by several names in the ancient world including Ta-sety, ‘the land of Bow’, and Kush, both names given by the ancient Egyptians. Kush (Cush) is also mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible in reference to the land south of Egypt. There is evidence for considerable traffic with Egypt as early as the Egyptian Old Kingdom (2686–2181BC).
Egyptians headed south in search of gold, ivory, ebony, leopard skins, resin and other raw materials, sometimes trading faience beads, alabaster vessels and other items manufactured in Egypt. The Greeks designated the regions to the south of Egypt as Aethiopia though this term did not apply to a specific ethnic group or to a well-defined geographical location. Several classical writers mention Aethiopia, among them Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Dio Cassius, Pliny the elder and Herodotus, who in the 5th century BC described the Kushite royal city of Meroe.
Information related by these classical writers encouraged travellers in the 18th and 19th centuries to visit Sudan and to document its monuments. James Bruce, who visited Sudan in 1772, was the first to identify the ruins of Begrawyia, situated just north of the modern city of Shendi, with Meroe. He also travelled to many other archaeological sites between Sennar and the Egyptian border.
Mohammed Ali Pasha, the ruler of Egypt, conquered Sudan in 1820, putting an end to the Funj kingdom of Sennar and in the process opened the country to European antiquarians. This is often considered the first phase in the study of the ancient cultures of Sudan because following this invasion, many European adventurers and travellers, interested in the archaeology of the country, began to document its antiquities. One of the earliest pioneers of archaeology in Sudan was the French traveller Frederic Cailliaud who accompanied the invading army in 1820. The results of his travels were published in three volumes entitled Voyage à Méroé (1826–1827). These provided a remarkably complete and accurate account of many of the more important standing monuments in the country. George Waddington and Barnard Hanbury also visited in 1820.
The conquest of the country by Anglo-Egyptian forces by 1896 put the country under a colonial control until 1956 when the country got its independents. With a rich diversity of ethnic groups that exceed the number of 500 groups that speak over 400 dialects and linguistics Sudanese Arabs are by far the biggest group.
The official language is Arabic, English comes as a second language. Khartoum the capital located at the confluence of the two Niles, dividing the big city into other parts as Omdurman and Khartoum North.
The capital enjoys a good number of fabulous museums, beautiful colonial building architect along the Nile street, with one of the biggest markets in Africa located in Omdurman. Khartoum has a population that is estimated by over 5 million, recently with a bigger community of expatriates from all over the world, turning Khartoum into a cosmopolitan city.