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Khartoum fact file

Leila Bendra-Lehnert and Rishan Oshi
Over the past 193 years, Khartoum has morphed from an Egyptian military outpost into a bustling three-part metropolis, connected by a series of bridges.
1.02.2016  |  Khartoum, Sudan
Map of Khartoum, Sudan. (photo: MiCT | The Niles)
Map of Khartoum, Sudan. (photo: MiCT | The Niles)

Lured by better infrastructure than elsewhere in Sudan, people are flocking to the fast-growing capital.

1 Khartoum is located at the confluence of the White Nile, which flows north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, which flows west from Ethiopia.

2 The origin of its name is unknown but there are two main theories. First, the name may come from the Arabic word for “trunk”, perhaps inspired by a small strip of land, where the two Niles meet, which resembles an elephant’s trunk. Second, the city’s name might be derived from the Arabic word for the safflower, Qurtum.

3 Khartoum is a tripartite metropolis, made up of Khartoum, Khartoum North (called Khartoum Bahri), and Omdurman.

4 Khartoum is the political and administrative capital, while Omdurman is the cultural capital, and Khartoum North is the industrial capital.

5 Khartoum is the second largest city in Sudan, Omdurman being the largest.

6 All three parts of the metropolis are linked by bridges, of which there are eight.

7 The first of these, the Blue Nile Railway Bridge, was constructed during the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and opened in 1909.

8 A ninth bridge is under construction. The Dabassin Bridge is set to be the longest in Africa, spanning 1,670 metres, though work has been halted because of a conflict over land.

9 The “Battle of the Bridge” is the name given to the 2008 attack of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a rebel movement in Darfur. The JEM used Al-Ingaz, meaning Salvation Bridge, which connects Omdurman and Khartoum, in a bid to overthrow the Al-Ingaz regime, which gave its name to the bridge.

10 The Tuti Bridge in Khartoum is considered to be the first suspension bridge constructed in Sudan and one of the first constructed in Africa. It links Khartoum to Tuti Island.

11 The total length of roads in Khartoum is 3,000 kilometres, according to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

12 On high traffic density roads, the average is 170 cars per kilometre, according to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

13 The National Telecommunication Corporation’s building is the tallest in Khartoum, at 140 metres.

14 Before 1821, Khartoum was a small village called Al-Jirayf, on the south shore of the Blue Nile.

15 Khartoum was “founded” in 1821 by Ibrahim Pasha, son of then ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, as an Egyptian military outpost. Khartoum celebrated its 193rd birthday in 2014.

16 A telegraph line linked Khartoum to Egypt in 1874.

17 On January 26, 1885, the Mahdiyya forces took over Khartoum, after a siege that lasted nine months. British General Charles Gordon died at the end of the siege, which the British Empire used to justify the presence of British troops in Egypt.

18 The spot where Gordon died became the Republican Palace, the official residence of the head of state in Sudan until recently.

19 The population of Khartoum city more than trebled from 30,000 in 1930 to 96,000 at the time of independence in 1956.

20 The Khartoum Resolution of September 1, 1967 was held in Khartoum and was attended by eight Arab heads of state after the Six-Day War. It became famous for its three “no’s”: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

21 The first oil pipeline between Khartoum and Port Sudan was completed in 1977.

22 Khartoum has the best infrastructure in Sudan, including its schools, hospitals and roads.

23 The first mosque in modern Khartoum was built around 1961 and is now called the Farouq Mosque.

24 The National Museum of Sudan, founded in 1971, is located in Khartoum.

25 The International Fair of Khartoum was established in 1976 and is considered one of largest general trade fairs in the region. In 2014, 14 countries and about 600 firms participated.

26 Osama bin Laden lived in the al-Riyadh neighbourhood of Khartoum from 1991 until 1996.

27 The University of Khartoum is the oldest and largest university in Sudan. It was established in 1902 as the Gordon Memorial College.

28 Khartoum has been the central stage for many protests throughout its history, such as the September 2013 protests which, according to Amnesty International, led to the death of at least 201 people.

29 Khartoum, specifically Khartoum University, was the starting point of the October Revolution in 1964, which overthrew the military government of President Abboud.

30 Khartoum is the smallest state in Sudan by area, but the most populated, with over seven million people, according to projections by the Sudan Central Bureau of Statistics for 2015.

31 There are approximately three million foreigners living in Khartoum, accounting for almost 40 percent of the population in the state.

This article is part of:
On The Move: Experience is a solid walking stick


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