There are more than 300 tribes in Sudan, including Danagla, Gaalien, and Shaigia in the north; Bijain the east; Kababish, Humar, Nuba, Baggara, and Fur in the west; and Dinka, Newir, and Skeluk in the south. The people come from numerous different ethnic backgrounds, mainly Arab in the north and African in the south.


Many crafts are available in Sudan's souqs (markets). The traditional wraps in bright, printed cotton, worn by women, are mostly imported. Many traders make their goods in the marketplace: old tin cans are cut and soldered into cooking pans and lamps; tailors make up the loose white gowns worn by men, and leather is punched and stitched into bags and saddles for donkeys and camels. The Sudanese hand woven baskets are my personal favourite in the souqs; the colours are striking and the patterns are wonderful.

Please do not buy anything made of Ivory or Crocodile leather, these come from endangered species and while buying a piece you will contribute to more illegal killings.

Sudan's "whirling dervishes" aren't really whirling, at least not most of them. They are, however, famous all over the world for the dance that supposedly brings the dancer into a trance - which will open up his heart so he can have a direct contact with God through the trance. The dancers are accompanied by rhythmic drumming and chantings.

BBC News has a good Sudan Country Profile where you can find most of the basic information about the country, it's conflicts, history, media and the leaders. I find it very useful.