After gaining independence from the British in 1956, Sudan was engaged in a civil war that lasted 17 years, and a second one that followed ten years later. This, and resulting famine, displaced four million people and, according to rebel estimates, was responsible for more than two million deaths over two decades. The war was ended by the 2005 North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which granted the south six years of autonomy concluding with a referendum on independence. The country has also experienced numerous regional disputes, such as the ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan, Darfur, and the Blue Nile states. These continue to affect thousands of civilians.
Sudan was long divided between the Muslim and Arab-dominated North and the traditional and “African” South, both as a result of the cultural and religious divisions, but also due to the British methods of administration during the colonial era. Movement of Sudanese people from North to South was restricted to prevent the spread of Islam, and the movement from South to North to prevent the spread of tropical diseases, such as malaria. These divisions resulted in isolation of the regions, which continues to cause problems to this day.
Omar Hassan al-Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989 and has ruled Sudan ever since. His National Congress Party is the only legally recognised political party. Sudan split into two countries in July 2011 when the people of the South used their referendum to vote for independence. However, various outstanding secession issues have continued to create tensions between Sudan and the new Republic of South Sudan. Clashes also continue to erupt between the government and rebel groups in Central Darfur and in the East of the country, while political opposition groups accuse President Bashir of exploiting religion to hold on to power.
Since beginning oil exports in 1999, Sudan relied heavily on crude oil for the majority of its income. These revenues have been hard hit by the secession of South Sudan – home to three-quarters of the oil production – although the South’s existing pipelines all flow through its northern neighbour. Sudan is now attempting to generate new revenue sources in industries like gold mining, while carrying out an austerity programme to reduce expenditures. The country has also yet to recover from damage done to its infrastructure during the numerous wars. The relatively primitive subsistence agriculture it relies on for much of its food, also means that most of Sudan’s population will remain below the poverty line for many years to come.
Sudan faces a large refugee problem; along with its own internally displaced people and refugees from neighbouring countries like Ethiopia and Chad, placing a severe strain on Sudan’s public services and capacity to cater for the needs of its people. Average literacy in Sudan is currently estimated to be 60% and school life expectancy is 4 years. In January 2013, for the second year running, Sudan was ranked in the bottom 10 (number 170) of countries for press freedom. 
Sudan has an estimated 34 million people living within its borders, of which 70% are Sunni Muslim, 5% Christian and 25% practising indigenous beliefs. Converting from Islam to another religion is punishable by imprisonment and even death. There are very small but long-established groups of Orthodox Christians in Khartoum and other northern cities, including Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox. Other Christian groups with smaller followings include the Africa Inland Church, Armenian (Apostolic) Church, Sudan Church of Christ and Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
Sudan’s hostility towards Christians has intensified since the secession of South Sudan, when Sudan President Omar al Bashir vowed to only recognise Islamic culture and the Arabic language. The country is now 8th on Open Doors World Watch List of nations where Christians face the most persecution. 
- Pray for all who have been affected by violence and conflict.
- Pray that Sudan is able to unite with its neighbours in peace.
- Pray for protection for Christians, their churches and businesses.
- Give thanks and pray for a new SAT-7 series in the Sudanese dialect, Critical Issues. The series, presented by three Sudanese church leaders (two male, one female), will give biblical perspectives to questions of everyday living. Transmission begins early 2013
 BBC Middle East History Guide
 CIA World Factbook
 Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Index 2013
 Open Doors World Watch List