In spite of often harsh conditions, Sudan is primarily a farming country. Four out of every five Sudanese still make their living in farming or raising livestock, or both. People have small family farms where millet, vegetables and fruit are grown or cattle and goats herded. Probably 70% of that work force is composed of women. There are also large, government-operated farms in central Sudan that produce a long-fibre cotton famed the world over for its softness. Peanuts, sugar cane, sorghum and sesame crops are also exported.
The vast, semi-arid region of Sudan has been home to herds of cattle, sheep, goats and camels which once numbered in the tens of millions. Droughts and civil war have reduced the traditional grazing lands, but livestock are still very important. Most of the few roads are impassable and there are few trains.
Did you know?

80% percent of the world's gum arabic, or gum acacia, is produced in Sudan. Harvested from acacia trees, it is used in inks, adhesives, certain types of candy and soft drinks.

Urban Sudanese work in government or light industries. People also work in the service sector and make handicrafts. Marketplaces, or suqs, full of food, clothing, and locally made household items, are busy places in the city. Schools, government offices and shops open early in the morning and close around 2:00 p.m. due to the mid-day heat. Shops open again from 6:00 to 8:00 in the evening.
Over the last 20 years, many young men and women in search of jobs have moved to the Khartoum area, only to face disappointment. Wages are low and housing is hard to find, making life for city dwellers very difficult. For many Sudanese, income from relatives working outside the country is essential for survival.
Did you know?

Sudan exports many camels and sheep to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.