In 1991, a federal system of government was inaugurated and the country was divided into 9 states, divided into 66 provinces and 281 local areas. A subsequent decree of February 1994 changed again the administrative structure of the Sudan, which today is divided into 26 states.
At the 1983 census the Sudan recorded 20,564,364 residents, which rose to 24,940,683 at the following census in 1993 (with an average density of 9.9 residents / km 2). The population growth coefficient – in the period 1980-92 – was estimated at 2.7% per year. The gaps in densities have further accentuated, with a significant increase in the northern provinces (in those of Khartoum and Gezira they now exceed 150 residents / km 2), while in the southern provinces economic delays, religious conflicts and a long phase of internal belligerence lead to emigration. About 78% of Sudanese are permanently settled in the countryside, and the share of nomads remains stable at around 10%; only a fifth of the residents are therefore affected by the urban phenomenon, which is concentrated above all in the district of Khartoum: the capital, which has 557,000 residents (1983), is flanked by the two neighboring centers of Khartoum North (341,000 residents) And Omdurman (Arab Umm Durmān, 526,000 residents), In a populous conurbation. Considerable demographic expansion also affected the port of Sudan (206,700 residents) And the communications hub of al-Ubayḍ (140,000 residents).
The primary sector employs 58% of assets, supplying a large part of the domestic product and the fundamental items of exports. A serious period of economic crisis – aggravated by the recurring drought – resulted in the failure to modernize traditional water schemes (still the largest in Africa). In fact, in the early 1980s the prolonged scarcity of rainfall caused widespread loss of life and a drastic deterioration of the livestock stock, which is currently estimated at 21.6 million cattle, 22.6 million sheep, 18.7 million goats and 2.8 million camels. The recovery of the rains subsequently allowed a recovery in production, but the serious shortages in transport still prevented supplying the driest regions; in 1988, moreover,
Since the 1970s, an increase in efforts in the domain of dry crops has allowed a significant increase in crops of sorghum (43 million q in 1992) and millet (4.2 million q), with a marked improvement in the availability of cereals.. On the other hand, areas and yields of cotton crops contracted, at least until the recent resumption of investments in the irrigation sector: the harvest thus decreased to 870,000 q of fiber and 1.7 million q of seeds; exports have been negatively affected, as cotton contributes about half of it. Good sugar cane production (46 million q), which tends to cover the country’s needs. For exports, crops of sesame (3.3 million q) and peanuts (4.5 million q) and the collection of gum arabic (40,000 tons) are also important, a largely exported forest product. The fate of agriculture is linked to some irrigation projects, including that of the Jonglei canal (in the South), which was interrupted several times due to lack of funding and the actions of the guerrillas. Due to the same difficulties, the oil pipeline intended to transfer the oil found in the South-West to the Porto Sudan terminal is still unfinished.
The lack of infrastructure reduces the number of mineral resources used for chromite (5,000 t in 1990) and gold (50 kg in 1991). Energy is also scarce due to the numerous postponements in the exploitation of oil fields and in the construction of the hydroelectric power plant of Meroe, designed on the main course of the Nile.
The industrial sector remains very weak, burdened by significant inefficiencies especially in the large sector controlled by the state. The food industries (with large sugar refineries) are flanked by those for the first processing of cotton, a refinery (which processes imported crude oil) and two cement factories.
Poor maintenance has created problems in the management of the railway network, which is only now undergoing partial modernization. The road network was instead enhanced with the opening of a fast artery between the capital and Port Sudan and with the completion of the connections between Wādī Madanī, Sennār and Kosti, and of the road link between the southern regions and Kenya, which allows access to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.