The Sudan or Sudan (English pronunciation (U.S.) , (GB) ; Arabic: السودان as-Sūdān) also known as North Sudan since South Sudan's independence and officially the Republic of the Sudan (Arabic: جمهورية السودان Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northern Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. It is the third largest country in Africa. The River Nile divides the country into eastern and western halves. Before the Sudanese Civil War, South Sudan was part of Sudan, but it became independent in 2011. Its predominant religion is Islam.
What is now northern Sudan was in ancient times the Kingdom of Nubia, which ruled Egypt in the early years. Nubian civilization called Kush flourished until 350 AD. Missionaries converted the region to Christianity in the 6th century, but an influx of Muslim Arabs, who had already conquered, eventually controlled the area and replaced Christianity with Islam. During the 1500s, a people called the Funj conquered much of Sudan and several other black African groups settled in the south, including the Dinka, Shilluk, Nuer and Azande. British conquered Sudan in 1874 and after Britain occupied Egypt in 1882 it took over Sudan in 1898, ruling the country in conjunction with Egypt. It was known as the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan between 1898 and 1955.
The 20th century saw the growth of Sudanese nationalism and in 1953 Britain granted Sudan self-government. Independence was proclaimed on January 1, 1956. Since independence, Sudan has been ruled by a series of unstable parliamentary governments and military regimes. Under Gaafar Nimeiri, Sudan instituted fundamentalist Islamic law in 1983. This exacerbated the rift between the Arab north, the seat of the government and the black African animists and Christians in the south. Differences in language, religion, ethnicity and political power erupted in an unending civil war between government forces, strongly influenced by the National Islamic Front (NIF) and the southern rebels, whose most influential faction is the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Human rights violations, religious persecution and allegations that Sudan had been a safe haven for terrorists isolated the country from most of the international community. In 1995, the United Nations (UN) imposed sanctions against it.