Sudan is a sovereign nation situated in the northeast part of Africa. Sudan was once Africa’s largest country before it broke up to form Sudan and South Sudan in 2011. The country now occupies an area of 728,215 square miles and is home to more than 39.5 million people. Sudan shares its expansive border with seven countries: Egypt, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Libya. The country's relationship with most of its neighbors has been peaceful.
Sudan shares its northern border with Egypt. The two countries have experienced conflict since the mid-20th century regarding a portion of the border. The region under dispute is referred to as the Hala’ib Triangle, which is situated on the Sudan–Egypt border, along the coast of the Red Sea. The creation of two different boundaries by colonial leaders has led to the current conflict. The first border was created in 1899 as a "political boundary," and ran parallel to the 22° N latitude. Three years later, Britain created an "administrative boundary" that marked the Ababda area to be in Egypt, while the Hala’ib area was marked to be in Sudan. Shortly after Sudan attained independence in 1956, disputes with Egypt over the Hala’ib area began, and the two countries have been fighting over the Hala’ib area ever since. The disputed piece of land has an area of 7,945 square miles and is rich in mineral deposits such as manganese. Egypt currently controls the area, but Sudan and Egypt are often in negotiations regarding how to find a middle ground.
South Sudan-Sudan Border
Sudan shares a 1,203-mile long border with South Sudan at the south end of the country. Sudan and South Sudan were one nation until the 2011 referendum, after which South Sudan emerged as a new country independent from Sudan. However, Sudan and South Sudan share many cultural, economic, and physical ties. For example, some South Sudanese nationals work in Sudan, and the countries share an oil pipeline that transports oil from South Sudan to Sudan. The relationship between Sudan and South Sudan since the separation in 2011 has also been strained, especially regarding the disagreement over the ownership of several regions including Abyei, Kafia Kingi, and the Heglig Oilfield. Leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have had several negotiations to settle their disputes.
Central African Republic-Sudan Border
Sudan is connected to the Central African Republic (CAR) by a border along the southwest side of Sudan. Sudan’s border with the Central African Republic is estimated to be 108 miles long. The two countries have had troubled relations due to political instability in the region. Rebels from Sudan and the Central African Republic have moved between the two countries and caused unrest in the area. In 2012, leaders from both countries formed a joint force to patrol the Sudan – Central African Republic border. However, militia groups still roam between the two countries and continue to cause strain.
Sudan and Chad share a 590-mile long border on the western side of Sudan. Long before independence, communities close to the border lived together as one group and shared close cultural and religious links. People from Chad held religious celebrations in Sudan and also worked for Sudanese organizations. However, these good relations were destroyed by the emergence of rebel groups in Sudan and Chad. Violence in the two countries escalated in the 1980s, fueled by unregulated militia groups. Political unrest in Sudan and Chad only added to the chaos in the region. Leaders from Sudan and Chad accused each other of the presence of militia groups. In 2006, the government of Sudan and the government of Chad agreed to end hostilities. Although the two countries signed a peace agreement, the relationship between Sudan and Chad remains strained.
Sudan shares a border with Eritrea on the eastern side of Sudan. However, the relationship between Sudan and Eritrea has not been friendly. Due to the totalitarian dictatorship in Eritrea and the constant fighting in Sudan, the neighbors have not developed an amicable relationship. Significant criminal activities occur along the Sudan–Eritrea border such as weapons smuggling, drugs, and human trafficking. Due to the increased crime in the area near the border, Sudanese officials formed joint forces with Eritrean officials to monitor the border and prevent criminal activity. At the start of 2018, Sudan closed its border crossing points with Eritrea. The reason for the shutdown was to confiscate illegal weapons in the area.
Sudan’s eastern border is shared with the neighboring nation of Ethiopia. The two countries once had friendly relations due to the help Sudan offered Ethiopia during the Ethiopian Civil War. However, the positive relationship changed in 1995 after an attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak while in Ethiopia. Investigations suggested that Sudan was involved with the crime, which angered Ethiopia. Following the revelation, some Sudanese embassies in Ethiopia were shut down, and flights between Ethiopia and Sudan neighboring. Currently, Sudan and Ethiopia do not have the positive relations they once had.
Libya is Sudan’s neighbor to the northwest. Given that Sudan and Libya are both Arab countries, their relationship dates back centuries. The two countries had similar interests in their foreign policy documents, which involved unity of the Arab countries. However, in the 1970s Sudan developed closer ties with Western nations. These changes conflicted with Libyan foreign policies, which angered the government. In the 1980s the Sudanese and Libyan governments clashed over many issues. However, the severed relations were rebuilt in the 1990s when a change in Sudan's government resulted in the adoption of foreign policies more aligned with numerous Arab countries, including Libya.
Sudan’s Foreign Relations
Sudan has strained relations with many foreign countries. In fact, the country has experienced some degree of conflict with most of its neighbors. The reason for its troubled relationship with foreign countries can be linked to support for radical Islamic groups. Additionally, Sudan has failed to contain militia groups, which have led to continuous conflict in the region.