Soudan, or Sudan (Soo-dan'; Arabic Beled es-Sudan, ' Land of the Blacks'), a term, which in its widest sense embraces the vast region stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and the Abyssinian highlands, and from the Sahara and Egypt proper in the north to the Gulf of Guinea, the central equatorial regions, and the Albert and Victoria Nyanzas in the south. This is the home of the true Negro race, though there are other elements in the population, mainly Hamitic and Semitic (Arab). The Soudan in this sense falls naturally into three divisions: (1) Western Soudan, comprising the basins of the Senegal, Niger, Benue, and other rivers draining to the Atlantic; (2) Central Soudan, including the basins of the rivers draining into Lake Chad, and covering the countries of Bornu, Bagirmi, Kanem, Wadai; (3) Eastern or Egyptian Soudan, mainly the basin of the Middle and Upper Nile. Except Portuguese Guinea and German Togo and Kamerun, the whole Soudan is now under French or English control. The western portion of what was once called French Soudan has been absorbed by Senegal, French Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Dahomey; the remainder, constituting three military territories, includes Bagirmi and Wadai. Britain controls Gambia, Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and Nigeria; Britain and Egypt, the Egyptian Soudan, which has of late largely monopolised the name of Soudan. Until 1882 the Egyptian Soudan formed one ill-organised province, with its capital at Khartoum. All the regions watered by the Nile and its tributaries possess highly fertile soil, capable of yielding immense quantities of cotton, durra, indigo, sugar, rice, maize, tobacco, fruits; while Kor-dofan and Dar-Fur are bare and waterless, except in the rainy season. The Egyptians, established at Khartoum in 1819, gradually extended their power W. and S. Insurrections in Dar-Fur and in the Bahr-el-Ghazal province (1877-79) were crushed by Gordon and Gessi. But in 1882 the Mahdi annihilated the Egyptian forces led by Hicks Pasha, isolated Emin Pasha in the Equatorial Province, captured Khartoum, and slew Gordon. In 1898 Kitchener re-conquered the Soudan, totally defeating the Khalifa's forces at Omdurman; and since 1899 the Anglo-Egyptian Soudan extends southwards from the frontier of Egypt to Uganda and the Belgian Congo, a distance of about 1200 miles, with an area of about 950,000 sq. m. and a pop. estimated at 2,000,000. The chief towns are Khartoum (8000), the capital, Omdurman (48,000), Haifa, Merowe, Berber, El Darner, Suakin, Kassala, and El Obeid. It is divided into twelve provinces, each with a British officer as governor - Khartoum, Blue Nile, Dongola, Berber, Kassala, Sennaar, Kordofan, White Nile, Bahr-el-Ghazal, Haifa, Suakin, and Upper Nile. Dar-Fur pays tribute, but is managed by its own sultan. Khartoum has railway and telegraph to Cairo, and by Atbara junction, near Berber (which is the seat of the Gordon College for the education of natives), to the Red Sea (1906). Prosperity has been steadily advanced, and irrigation promises great results for a large area.
See works by Schweinfurth (1874), Nachtigal (1879-89), James (1884), Felkin and Wilson (1881), Junker (1890-91), Wingate (1891), H. Russell (1892), Ohrwalder (1893), Robinson (1896), Sidney Peel (1904), and Lady Lugard (1905), and the articles on the chief Soudanese states.