الخرطوم al-Kharṭūm
Khartoum at night

Nickname(s): The Triangular City
Khartoum is located in Sudan
Khartoum's location in Sudan
Coordinates: 15°38′N 032°32′E / 15.633°N 32.533°E / 15.633; 32.533Coordinates: 15°38′N 032°32′E / 15.633°N 32.533°E / 15.633; 32.533
Country  Sudan
State Khartoum
 – Governor Abdul Rahman Alkheder
Population (2008)
 – Urban 639,598
 – Metro 5,274,321 (Khartoum State)

Khartoum (Arabic: الخرطومAl Ḫarṭūm) is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran". The main Nile continues to flow north towards Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.

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



The origin of the word is uncertain. One tradition is that khartoum derives from Arabic kartūm الخرطوم meaning 'end of an elephant’s trunk', probably referring to the narrow strip of land extending between the Blue and White Niles.[1] Captain J. A. Grant, who reached Khartoum in 1863 with Captain Speke’s expedition, thought that the derivation was most probably from the Arabic gartoon, safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), which was cultivated extensively in Egypt for its oil, used in burning.[citation needed]


Early history

Khartoum at the Bend of the Nile

Khartoum was established 15 miles north of the ancient city of Soba in 1821 by Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Egypt's ruler, Muhammad Ali Pasha, who had just incorporated Sudan into his realm. Originally, Khartoum served as outpost for the Egyptian Army, but the settlement grew quickly as a regional center of trade. It also became a focal point for the trading in slaves. It became the administrative center for Sudan, and later the official capital.

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, and all its inhabitants were put to death.[2]

Omdurman was the scene of the bloody battle on 2 September 1898, during which British forces under Herbert 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.[3]

Recent history

Development in Khartoum

In 1973, the city was the site of an anomalous hostage crisis in which members of Black September held ten hostages at the Saudi Arabian 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 State document, declassified in 2006, concluded "The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat."[4]

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

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Khartoum was the destination for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflicts in neighbouring nations such as Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda. Many Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees assimilated into society, while 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.

In 1991, Osama bin Laden purchased a house in the affluent al-Riyadh neighborhood of the city and another in Soba. He lived there until 1996 when he was banished from the country. Following the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, the United States accused bin Laden's al-Qaeda group of responsibility and launched cruise missile attacks (20 August) on the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory 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 youths from southern Sudan attacked northern Sudanese and clashed with security forces.[5]

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

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

On 10 May 2008 the Darfur 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.[6][7][8]

Panorama of Khartoum


Khartoum features a hot desert climate, with only the months of July and August seeing significant precipitation. Khartoum averages a little over 155 millimetres (6.1 in) of precipitation per year. Based on annual mean temperatures, Khartoum is one of the hottest major cities in the world. Temperatures may exceed 53 °C (127 °F) in mid-summer. Its average annual high temperature is 37.1 °C (99 °F), with six 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 30 °C (86 °F). This is something not seen in other major cities with hot desert climates such as Riyadh, Baghdad and Phoenix. Temperatures cool off considerably during the night, with Khartoum's lowest average low temperatures of the year just above 15 °C (59 °F).

Climate data for Khartoum
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30.8
Average low °C (°F) 15.6
Precipitation mm (inches) 0
humidity 27 22 17 16 19 28 43 49 40 28 27 30 28.8
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 0 0 .1 .1 .9 1.2 4.8 4.8 3.2 1.2 0 0 16.3
Sunshine hours 341 311 310 330 300 300 279 279 300 310 330 341 3,731
Source no. 1: World Meteorological Organisation (UN) [9]
Source no. 2: BBC Weather [10]


Year Population[11]
City Agglomeration
1907[12] 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
2008 Census Preliminary 639,598[13] 5,274,321[13]


Al-Quasar street
A busy street in 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.[14][15] The biggest projects taking place right now in Khartoum are the Al-Mogran Development Project, two five-star hotels, a new airport, Mac Nimir Bridge (finished in October 2007) and the Tuti Bridge that links Khartoum to Tuti Island.

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 in Al Jazirah state and White Nile Sugar Project in Central Sudan, and the Merowe Dam 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 new high secondary school for boys

  • Khartoum International preparatory school (KIPS), established in 1928.
  • Qabbas Private International Schools


Public universities in Khartoum are:[16]

  • Al-Neelain University,
  • Al Zaiem Alazhari University,
  • International University of Africa,
  • Nile Valley University,
  • Open University of Sudan,
  • Public Health Institute, a post-graduate institution operated by the Ministry of Health
  • Sudan University of Science and Technology, one of the leading engineering and technology schools in Sudan, founded in 1932 as Khartoum Technical Institute and has been given its present name in 1991.
  • University of Khartoum. Founded as Gordon Memorial College in 1902, it was later renamed to share the name of the city in the 1930s.

Private universities include:[17]

The city is also home to Juba University, relocated from Juba during the civil war. This is one of the universities in Sudan that maintains English as the language of instruction. Plans exist to relocate the university or part of it back to South Sudan.



Khartoum is home to the largest airport in Sudan, Khartoum International Airport. 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.[citation needed] It will replace the current airport in Khartoum as Sudan's main airport followed by Juba Airport and Port Sudan Airport.


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

  • Mac Nimir Bridge
  • Blue Nile Road & Railway Bridge
  • Burri Bridge
  • Elmansheya Bridge
  • Soba bridge

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

  • White Nile Bridge
  • Fitayhab Bridge
  • Al Dabbaseen Bridge (Under Construction)
  • Omhuraz Bridge (Proposed)

the following bridges cross from Omdurman: to Khartoum North:

  • Shambat Bridge
  • Halfia Bridge

The following bridges cross to Tuti from Khartoum states three cities

  • Khartoum-tuti bridge
  • Omdurman-Tuti Suspension bridge proposed
  • Khartoum North-tuti bridge proposed


Khartoum has rail lines from Egypt, Port Sudan and El Obeid. Some lines also extended to some parts of south Sudan


A statue, claimed to depict Natakamani, at the front of the National Museum of Sudan


The largest museum in Khartoum, and indeed all of Sudan, is the National Museum of Sudan. 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 Nasser.

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 Al 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 State.

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.

Also recently Sudan opened the Hotel Section and part of the food court of the new, Elfatih Tower. The Mall/Shopping section is still under construction.

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


  1. ^ Room, Adrian (2006), Placenames of the World (Second edition)., McFarland. ISBN 0786422483. p. 194
  2. ^ Hammond, Peter (2005), Slavery, Terrorism & Islam, Cape Town, South Africa: Christian Liberty Books 
  3. ^ Home, Robert K., Of Planting and Planning: the making of British colonial cities (1997), p.41
  4. ^ "The Seizure of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum". U.S. Department of State. 2006-05-04. 
  5. ^ "World | Africa | Riots after Sudan VP Garang dies". BBC News. 2005-08-01. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  6. ^ Curfew in capital as Sudanese army clash near Khartoum with Darfur rebels – Sudan Tribune 2008-05-10
  7. ^ Sudanese rebels 'reach Khartoum' – BBC News 2008-05-10
  8. ^ PHOTOS: Sudan capital after today's attack from Darfur JEM – Sudan Tribune 2008-05-10
  9. ^ "World Weather Information Service – Khartoum". UN. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
  10. ^ "Average Conditions Khartoum, Sudan". BBC Weather. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  11. ^ "http". // Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  12. ^ "Encyclopedia Britannica von 1911: Band 15, Seite 773". Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ "Sudan and UNDP launch Millennium Goals project". Sudan Tribune. 20075-09-05. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  15. ^ "Khartoum booms as Darfur burns". BBC. 2007-04-24. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  16. ^ "Sudanese higher education". Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research. Retrieved 2011-09-15. 
  17. ^ "Universities of Sudan". Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Retrieved 2011-09-15. 

External links

Media related to Khartoum at Wikimedia Commons

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