Population: Census of 1983 set population at
21.6 million people; July 1990 population estimate approximately
25 million. Annual growth rate between 2.8 and 3.1 percent. Half
of population under eighteen years of age. About 20 percent of
population urban, concentrated chiefly in three cities--Khartoum,
Omdurman, and Khartoum North--constituting national capital area.
Languages: About 400 languages, but Arabic primary
and official language. English common second language in south.
Other languages include Bedawiye used by Beja and various dialects
of Niger-Kurdufanian and Nilo-Saharan.
Ethnic Groups: Largest ethnic category in 1983
(nearly 40 percent of total, nearly 55 percent in north) comprises
those considering themselves Arabs, but category internally split
by regional and tribal loyalties and affiliation to various Muslim
politico-religious groups. Major Muslim (but non-Arab) groups
are Nubians in far north, nomadic Beja in northeast, and Fur in
west. Southern non-Muslim groups include Dinka (more than 10 percent
of total population and 40 percent in south), Nuer, and numerous
smaller Nilotic and other ethnic groups.
Religion: More than half of total population
Muslim, most living in north where Muslims constitute 75 percent
or more of population. Relatively few Christians, most living
in south. Most people in south and substantial minority in north
adherents of various indigenous religions.
Education: Six-year primary education increasingly
available, but in early 1990s south and many northern communities
still suffered from shortage of schools and teachers; many schools
in south destroyed by civil war. Small proportion of primary school
graduates continued in three-year junior secondary and upper secondary
schools or attended technical schools. Most schools in urban locations;
many lacked adequately trained teachers. Universities producing
adequate numbers of highly educated graduates but Sudanese with
skills relevant to largely agricultural economy still in short
supply. Estimate of adult literacy about 30 percent.
Health: By 1991 civil war had destroyed most
medical facilities in south, and famine in 1980s and 1991 had
serious impact on general health. Weak modern medical infrastructure
suffering personnel shortages and urban-rural imbalance; most
personnel and facilities concentrated in capital area. Malaria
and gastrointestinal diseases prevalent through much of country;
tuberculosis widespread in north but also occurs in south; schistosomiasis
(snail fever) more restricted to territory near White Nile and
Blue Nile rivers and adjacent irrigated areas; sleeping sickness
spreading in south; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Data as of June 1991