Khartoum, Sudan

Reference work entry


The capital, transport, trade and administrative centre of Sudan. Also capital of Khartoum Province, the city lies in east central Sudan, south of the confluence of the Blue and White Nile Rivers. It is linked by bridges across the Blue Nile to Khartoum North and across the White Nile to Omdurman.


Khartoum was founded in 1821 by Muhammad Ali as an Egyptian military post to protect the British-supported Turko-Egyptian government of the Sudan. It grew into a thriving, garrisoned army town. During a revolt in 1884–85 against Anglo-Egyptian rule the town was attacked by Muhammad Ahmad, known as the Mahdi. Despite efforts by Major General Charles Gordon, then British Governor-General of the Sudan, the city was captured and Gordon and its inhabitants were massacred at the end of a ten-month siege. It was recaptured and rebuilt in 1898 by Lord Kitchener. It was the capital of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan from 1899–1956 when the city became the capital of the independent republic of Sudan. Civil wars have ensued with several coups and changes of government. Disease and starvation are rife throughout the country and Khartoum has not escaped.

Modern City

Much trade is derived from the river traffic on the Nile Rivers. Industries include textile and glass manufacturing, food processing and printing. A paved highway, completed in 1980, links Khartoum with Port Sudan. Railways connect the city with Egypt, Port Sudan and Al-Ubayyid. An oil pipeline was completed between the city and port in 1977. The national carrier, Sudan Airways, operates from the International Airport located near Khartoum. Photography in the city requires a permit. The University of Khartoum, founded in 1956, formerly the Gordon Memorial College, is noted for its African and Sudanese library. Nilayn University (1955) was formerly the Khartoum branch of Cairo University. Other libraries include the Flinders Petrie Library, named after the British Egyptologist, the Geological Research Library and the Sudan Medical Research Laboratories Library.

Places of Interest

The Sudan National Museum has collections of rare artifacts. There is also a Natural History Museum and an Ethnographical Museum. A collection of historical documents are housed in the National Records Office. There are two mosques, several cathedrals—Roman Catholic, Anglican and Coptic, as well as Greek and Maronite churches.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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