Kurdufan (sometimes Kordofan) is a former province of central Sudan. In 1994 it was divided into three new federal states: North Kurdufan, South Kurdufan, and West Kurdufan. In August 2005 [ [http://home.planet.nl/~ende0098/Articles/20070500.html "UNMIS CPA Monitor May 2007, Southern Kordofan"] ] , West Kurdufan State was abolished and its territory divided between North and South Kordofan States, as part of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.


Kurdufan covers an area of some 376,145 km² (146,932 miles²), with an estimated population in 2000 of 3.6 million (3 million in 1983). It is largely an undulating plain, with the Nuba Mountains in the southeast quarter. During the rainy season from June to September, the area is fertile, but in the dry season, it is virtually desert. The region’s chief town is El Obeid (Al-Ubayyid).

Economy and demography

Traditionally the area is known for production of gum Arabic. Other crops include groundnuts, cotton, and millet. The main tribal groups are the Arab tribes, such as Dar Hamid, Kawahla, Hamar, Bedairiah, Joamaah, Rekabeiah, beside the Nuba, meanhile Shilluk, and Dinka are ethnic minorties. Large grazing areas used and inhabited since hundred of years by Arabic-speaking, semi-nomadic Baggara and camel-raising Kababish in Northern Kordofan.

The Kordofanian languages are spoken by a small minority in southern Kordofan and are unique to the region, as are the Kadu languages but Arabic is the main and widely spoken language in Greater Kordofan Region.


Before 1840

According to what Ignaz Pallme writes in his book "Kordofan" (#), published in 1843, in 1779 the King of Sennaar (see Kingdom of Sennar) sent the Sheikh Nacib, with two thousand cavalry, to take possession of the country which remained for about five years, under the government of Sennaar. In this period several Arab people, and native people from Sennaar and Dongola (see old Dongola), immigrated into the country; moreover, agriculture and commerce began to flourish.

Now the Sultan of Darfour directed its attention towards Kordofan, and entered on a campaign, in which the region was driven out of Sennaar for ever. Kordofan was now governed in the name of the Sultan of Darfour, up to the year 1821. During these years the country was also prosperous: the inhabitants lived in peace, and were not troubled with taxes; the merchants were exempt from all duties, and the tribute paid was a voluntary present to the Sultan of Darfour. Bara, the second commercial town of importance in the country, was built by the Dongolavi. The Commerce extended in all directions: caravans brought products from Abyssinia and from Egypt into the two towns of Lobeid and Bara, whence the greater part was again transported into other countries of Africa.

This state of prosperity ended in 1821 when Mehemet Ali, Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt sent his son-in-law, Defturdar, with about 4,500 soldiers and eight pieces of artillery, to subject Kordofan to his power. The monopoly enjoyed by the Egyptian governors in Kordofan totally impeded trade in general and any free entrepreneurial activity.

After 1840

The Mahdi captured El Obeid in 1883. The Egyptian government dispatched a force from Cairo under the British General William Hicks, which was ambushed and annihilated at Sheikan to the south of El Obeid. Following British reoccupation in 1898, Kurdufan was added to the number of provinces of the Sudan.


Ignaz Pallme [http://www.pallme.com/family/uk_Pallme-Tausch.htm#Egypt] (Steinschönau 1 February 1807 - Hainburg near Vienna 11 June 1877), a Bohemian by birth, undertook the journey to Kordofan in 1837, on commission, for a mercantile establishment at Cairo, in the hope of discovering new channels of traffic with Central Africa.

In the pursuit of his object, he sojourned (1837-1839) longer in the country than any European before him; the information he furnished respecting the state of this province of Egypt in particular, and of the Belled Soudan in general, may, therefore, be considered the most authentic in existence at that time. That few travellers have visited these countries before Pallme, and subjected the information they were enabled to collect to print, may be deduced from the facts, that scarcely one-half of the places mentioned in Pallme's book(#) are to be found on the maps of that time.

The book "Kordofan" (#), written by Ignaz Pallme, is at the Austrian National Library [http://www.onb.ac.at/index_eng.htm] (Signat 393870 B, Band 24) in Vienna. Based on notes collected during Pallme's residence in Kordofan (Kurdufan), the book is embracing a description of that province of Egypt and of some of the bordering countries, with a review of the state of the commerce in those countries, of the habits and customs of the inhabitants, as also an account of the slave-hunts taking place under the government of Mehemet Ali.

Notes and references

* (#) Pallme, Ignaz Samuel; "Kordofan: Beschreibung von Kordofan und einigen angrenzenden Ländern" "("Writing about Kurdufan and Some Bordering Lands")"; Stuttgart. 1843.

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