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Khartoum (الخرطوم al-Kharṭūm) is the capital of Sudanmarker and of Khartoum Statemarker. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoriamarker, and the Blue Nilemarker flowing west from Ethiopiamarker. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran". The main Nile continues to flow north towards Egyptmarker and the Mediterranean Seamarker.

Divided by the Niles, Khartoum is a tripartite metropolis with an estimated overall population of over a million people consisting of Khartoum proper, and linked by bridges to Khartoum Northmarker called (al-Khartūm Bahrī) and Omdurmanmarker (Umm Durmān) to the west.


The word 'Khartoum' is derived from Arabic for "end of an elephant’s trunk", probably referring to the narrow strip of land extending between the Blue and White Niles. Captain J. A. Grant, who reached Khartoum in 1863 with Captain Speke’s expedition, thought that the derivation was most probably from the safflower (Carthamus Tinctorius L.) which is called 'Gartoon,' and which was cultivated extensively in Egypt for its oil, used in burning. This explanation is ingenious but has no support.


Early history

Khartoum at the Bend of the Nile
Ibrahim Pasha, the ruler of Egypt, founded Khartoum in 1821 as an outpost for the Egyptian army. The settlement grew as a regional center of trade, including the slave trade. Troops loyal to the Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad began a siege of Khartoum on 13 March 1884 against the defenders led by British General Charles George Gordon. The siege ended in a massacre of the Anglo-Egyptian garrison.

The heavily damaged city fell to the Mahdists on 26 January 1885. Omdurman was the scene of the bloody battle on 2 September 1898, during which British forces under Horatio Kitchener defeated the Mahdist forces defending the city.

In 1899, Khartoum became the capital of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Several explanations have been offered for the design of the new, Anglo-Egyptian Khartoum. One is that Kitchener laid out the city's streets in a Union flag pattern as a symbol of British dominance. Another is that the grid system and diagonal streets of the city were designed to converge in a way that would allow machine-guns to sweep the town. However, there is no contemporary evidence to support either of these suggestions.

When Sudan became independent in 1956, Khartoum became the capital of the new country.

Recent history

In 1973, the city was the site of an anomalous hostage crisis in which members of Black September held ten hostages at the Saudimarker embassy, five of whom were diplomats. The US ambassador, the US deputy ambassador, and the Belgian chargé d'affaires were murdered. The remaining hostages were released (see 1973 Khartoum diplomatic assassinations). A 1973 United States Department of Statemarker document, declassified in 2006, concluded "The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat."

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

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Khartoum was the destination for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflicts in neighboring nations such as Chadmarker, Eritreamarker, Ethiopia and Uganda. The Eritrean and Ethiopianmarker refugees assimilated into society which some of the other refugees settled in large slums at the outskirts of the city. From the mid-1980s onward, large numbers of south Sudanese and Darfuri internally displaced from the violence of the Second Sudanese Civil War and Darfur conflict have settled around Khartoum.

Following the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, the United States accused Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group of responsibility and launched cruise missile attacks (20 August) on the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factorymarker in Khartoum North. The destruction of the factory produced diplomatic tension between the U.S. and Sudan. The ruins of the factory are a tourist attraction.

After the sudden death of SPLA head and vice-president of Sudan John Garang at the end of July 2005, there were violent riots in the capital for three days which died down after southern Sudanese politicians and tribal leaders sent strong messages to the rioters. The situation could have been chaotic with mass killings and reprisals however the death toll was at least 24 as youth from South Sudan attacked North Sudanese and clashed with security forces.

The Organisation of African Unity summit of July 18–22, 1978 was held in Khartoum, during which Sudan was awarded the OAU presidency.The African Union summit of January 16–24, 2006 was held in Khartoum.

The Arab League summit of March 28–29, 2006 was held in Khartoum, during which the Arab League awarded Sudan the Arab League presidency.

On 10 May 2008 the Darfurmarker rebel group of the Justice and Equality Movement moved into the city where they engaged in heavy fighting with Sudanese government forces. Their soldiers included minors and their goal was the toppling of Omar Hassan al-Bashir's government, though the Sudanese government succeeded in beating back the assault.


Khartoum features a hot arid climate, with only the months of July and August seeing significant precipitation. Khartoum averages a little over 155 mm (6 in.) of precipitation per year. Based on average annual temperatures, Khartoum is quite possibly the hottest major city on the planet. Its average annual high temperature is 38°C (100°F), with seven months of the year seeing an average monthly high temperature of at least 38°C (100°F). Furthermore, none of its monthly average high temperatures falls below 32°C (90°F). This is something not seen in other major cities with hot arid climates such as Riyadhmarker, Baghdadmarker and Phoenixmarker. Temperatures cool off considerably during the night, with Khartoum's lowest average low temperatures of the year hovering around the 16°C (60°F) mark.


Year Population
City Agglomeration
1907 69,349 k. A.
1956 93,100 245,800
1973 333,906 748,300
1983 476,218 1,340,646
1993 947,483 2,919,773
2007 Estimate 2,207,794 8,363,915


View of the traffic in the city of Khartoum.

After the signing of the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLA), the Government of Sudan has begun a massive development project . The biggest projects taking place right now in Khartoum are the Al-Mogran Development Projectmarker, two five-star hotels, a new airport, Mac Nimir Bridgemarker (finished in October 2007) and the Tuti Bridgemarker that links Khartoum to Tuti Islandmarker.

Khartoum has a thriving economy. In recent years Khartoum has seen significant development, driven by Sudan's oil wealth. The center of the city is well-planned, with tree-lined streets. However, Khartoum has the highest concentration of economic activity in the country. This is slowly changing as major economic developments take place in other parts of the country, like oil exploration in the South, the Giad Industrial Complex and White Nile Sugar Project in Central Sudan, and the Merowe Dammarker in the North.

Among the city's industries are printing, glass manufacturing, food processing, and textiles. Petroleum products are now produced in the far north of Khartoum state, providing fuel and jobs for the city. One of Sudan's largest refineries is located in northern Khartoum. Moreover, a number of East-Asian companies have recently shown interest in the realization of a new project which will lead to the creation of new telecommunication services throughout the country.


Khartoum is the main location for most of Sudan's top educational bodies, including but not limited to:

High Schools




Khartoum is home to the largest airport in Sudan, Khartoum International Airportmarker. It is the main hub for Sudan Airways, Sudan's main carrier. The airport was built at the southern edge of the city; but with Khartoum's rapid growth and consequent urban sprawl, the airport is now located in the heart of the city.A new international airport is currently being built in the city of Omdurman. It will replace the current airport in Khartoum as Sudan's main airport followed by Juba Airportmarker and Port Sudan Airport.


The following bridges cross the Blue Nile and connect Khartoum to Khartoum North:

The following bridges cross the White Nile and connect Khartoum to Omdurman:

the following bridges cross from Omdurman: to Khartoum North:

The following bridges cross to Tuti from Khartoum states three cities


Khartoum has rail lines from Egypt, Port Sudan and El Obeid.



The largest museum in Khartoum, and indeed all of Sudan, is the National Museum of Sudanmarker. Founded in 1971, it contains works from different epochs of Sudanese history. Among the exhibits are two Egyptian temples of Buhen and Semna which were originally built by Queen Hatshepsut and Pharaoh Tuthmosis III respectively but relocated to Khartoum upon the flooding of Lake Nassermarker.

Another museum in Khartoum is the Palace Museum, located adjacent to the historical Presidential Palace on Blue Nile Street.


Khartoum doesn't have as many open markets or souqs as neighboring Omdurman, but one of the largest is the Souq Arabi. The market is huge and spread over several blocks in the center of Khartoum proper just south of the Great Mosque (Mesjid al-Kabir) and the minibus station. It is divided into separate sections, including one focused entirely on gold.

Al Qasr St. and Al Jamhoriyah St. are considered the most famous high streets in Khartoum Statemarker.

Recently Sudan's first medium scale shopping mall opened, located in the southern suburb Arkeweet. The Afra Mall has a supermarket, retail outlets, coffee shops, a bowling alley, movie theaters, and a children's playground.

Botanical gardens

Khartoum is home to a small botanical garden, in the Mogran district of the city.


Sudan sufis in Khartoum
Khartoum is home to several clubs such as the Sailing Club, German Club, Greek Hotel, Coptic Club, Syrian Club, International Club etc.

Twin cities

See also


External links

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