At the 1973 census the population of the Sudan amounted to 14,171,732 residents, revealing an increase of over 64% compared to 1956, the date of the first demographic census; the average annual growth coefficient is currently 2.5%. The increase mainly concerns the northern provinces, which are the most populated and the most economically developed in the country, while in the southern part, due to the less hospitable environment and the guerrillas carried out after the achievement of independence from the Nilotic populations, with destruction of entire villages, it was more modest. Furthermore, migratory currents are generated from the southern provinces towards the central-northern ones: the preferred destinations are the cities of Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman, which have become the heart of a small conurbation of 650,000 residents (360,000 in 1960), and other centers located on the Nile (Kosti on the White Nile, Wad Medani on the Blue Nile) or on the main communication routes (el Obeid) and on the sea (Port Sudan). In the province of Khartoum, where there is the highest population density (42 / km2, against 24 / km 2 in 1956), over half of the population is classified as urban; in the other provinces, on the other hand, the urban population, if we exclude the province of Kassala (16%), remains insignificant.
Economic conditions. – The economic progress achieved by the Sudan after independence is significant. They are largely the result of the ten-year development plan 1961-71, which made large investments in every sector, with priority for agriculture. In this field, the most important achievement is the construction of the Khashm el Girba dam (one billion m 3), on the Atbara river, and the er Roseires dam, on the Blue Nile, which made it possible to extend irrigation beyond outside the Gezira. The extension of the railway network with two long sections, which connect el Obeid to Nyala, in Darfur, and Wau, in the southernmost part of the country (Bahr el Ghazal), has also had a great importance for the purposes of agricultural development.
The formation of the national income is almost exclusively due to agriculture, thanks to the expansion of cotton cultivation (417,000 ha, 2,080,000 q of fiber, 3,500,000 q of seeds, in 1977), which from Gezira has pushed towards south following the construction of the Manaqil irrigation canal. The increased need for labor connected with the expansion of cotton growing, now practiced completely by the Sudanese, annually attracts about 100,000 seasonal workers, especially in the harvest months (between February and April). Sugar cane (17,000 ha, 1,400,000 q) also shows a significant increase in the irrigated areas of Gezira, placing itself as an alternative to the monoculture of cotton, and in the Equatoria, the extreme area of Sudan. Furthermore, among the export crops, the peanut (798,000 ha in 1977, against 145,000 in 1960, and 8.5 million q), sesame (850,000 ha, 2.2 million q), for which Sudan ranks third in the world after China and India, and castor (190,000 q of seeds), sometimes grown on an industrial scale (Khashm el Girba). Government interventions have also given new impetus to dates (1,060,000 q). In the province of Dārfūr, then, vegetables and fruit trees (citrus) are also developing, taking advantage of the recent railway to Nyala, which allows them to be sold. Government interventions have also given new impetus to dates (1,060,000 q). In the province of Dārfūr, then, vegetables and fruit trees (citrus) are also developing, taking advantage of the recent railway to Nyala, which allows them to be sold. Government interventions have also given new impetus to dates (1,060,000 q). In the province of Dārfūr, then, vegetables and fruit trees (citrus) are also developing, taking advantage of the recent railway to Nyala, which allows them to be sold.
Among the most common crops intended for food, typical of the savannah, only sorghum, thanks to irrigation, gains space (2,500,000 ha, 16,000,000 q), while the other cereals (millet, corn, wheat) still a secondary role and are confined to less productive soils.
The development of livestock farming is quite evident, which the exploitation of the water table in arid areas tends to make it as stable as possible. Compared to the date of independence, the consistency of almost all livestock species for meat and milk has almost doubled (15,892,000 cattle, 15,248,000 sheep, 11,592,000 goats, 24,000,000 poultry), while working and transport animals increased slightly (2,800,000 camels, 675,000 donkeys, 20,000 horses).
Poverty of minerals – the exploitation of which (chromite, 11,500 t of Cr 2 O 3contained in 1976; manganese, 500 t) is also hampered by the difficulty of transport, as is the case of the iron deposits of Abu Tulu in Kordofan and of the copper deposits of Hofrat en Nahas in Dārfūr, whose consistency is estimated at 35 million t respectively in 250,000 t – hinders the development of the industry. However, the recent availability of hydroelectric energy obtained from the Sennar, er Roseires and Khashm el Girba power plants (720 million kWh in 1976) have attracted – mostly around Khartoum North, Atbara and Khashm el Girba, where some industries already existed – some new initiatives concerning the transformation of soil products (oil mills, sugar refineries, distilleries, cotton mills). An oil refinery has been operating in Port Sudan since 1964.
The trade balance is negative. The export is fueled by cotton (over half of the total value), followed by peanut, gum arabic, sesame, seed oil and skins. Imports concern machinery, various tools, vehicles and textile products. The largest exchanges take place with the United Kingdom, India, China, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan and Italy.