Sennaar, a country of Africa, forming part of the territory commonly known as Nubia, and now included in the aggregation of Nile provinces constituting the dependency of Egypt officially known as Soodan. It is bounded E. by Abyssinia and W. by Kordofan, and extends S. from the junction of the Blue and White Nile in lat. 15° 36' N. to about lat. 10°, but its boundaries are not well defined; area about 50,000 sq. m.; pop. 1,500,000. It consists chiefly of the peninsular territory lying between the Bahr el-Azrek or Blue Nile on the east and the Bahr el-Abiad or White Nile on the west, with its N. extremity at Khar-toom. The chief towns are Khartoom, where the governor resides, Sennaar, the former capital, on the Blue Nile, and Wat Medineh, described by Sir Samuel Baker as the principal trading place on the same river. The country consists of a plain from 1,400 to 1,500 ft. above the sea. There are some isolated summits nearly 1,000 ft. above the surrounding country; and toward the S. boundary the surface becomes very mountainous.
The plain of Sennaar rests upon a regular horizontal stratum of sandstone, and the mountains consist of crystalline rocks, clay slate, and limestone; while many of the isolated hills are composed of granite, and some contain veins of auriferous quartz and gneiss. Iron ore is abundant, and salt is found on the White Nile and at Khartoom. The soil of the plain is for the most part a rich black mould, though there are many sterile and unproductive tracts. Rain seldom falls in the north, sometimes not for two or three years together; but in the south it is abundant between May and September. The climate is exceedingly hot, the thermometer rising to 120° in the shade. Extensive forests border the flat tracts along the White Nile, and in the lower part of the country where the river overflows its banks abundant crops of durra and beans are raised. These are the principal products, but wheat, cotton, and tobacco are also cultivated. Much of the country is well adapted for pasturage, and large numbers of horses, camels, sheep, goats, and cattle are raised. Among the leading exports are leather and cotton goods to the neighboring countries, ivory, ostrich feathers, and honey.
The elephant, giraffe, rhinoceros, antelope, lion, leopard, hyaena, baboon, hippopotamus, wild boar, crocodile, heron, and ibis are met with. The inhabitants represent a number of races, and vary from light yellow to black. There are several Arab tribes, and the territory of the Dinkas embraces the S. W. corner of Sennaar. The better classes are generally well made and handsome, but about half the population are negro slaves. The people understand working in metals, and are good weavers and potters, and particularly skilled in leather making, which is their chief manufacture. Cotton stuffs are also made. Mohammedanism is the prevailing religion, but its requirements are little regarded, and there are many Christians and pagans in the S. E. part of the country. - Sennaar formerly belonged to Abyssinia, and was subsequently annexed to the government of Nubia, but appears to have achieved independence about the 14th century. Its history is imperfectly known, but there is reason to believe that during the last 200 years its territory has been parcelled out among various chiefs practically independent of one another.
Since the invasion by Ismail Pasha in 1820-'22 Sennaar has been subject to Egypt.