- Religious Freedom
- Religious Regulation
- Religious Support
Sudan - Major World Religions2
Sudan - Largest Religious Groups2
Preferred Religion (2015)1: Sunni
Majority Religion (2015)2: Sunni Muslim (90.4%)
Religious Adherents, (2015)2
The country has an area of 967,500 square miles and a population of 40.2 million. Demographic data are estimated. Two-thirds to three-fourths of the population live in the 15 states of the north and are generally from Arabic-speaking Semitic groups. The remaining one-fourth to one-third of the population live in the south and are mostly Nilotic peoples.
An estimated 70 percent of the population is Muslim. Islam predominates in the north. Almost all Muslims are Sunni, although there are significant distinctions between followers of different Sunni traditions, particularly among Sufi brotherhoods.
An estimated 25 percent of the population holds traditional indigenous beliefs (animism), which are prevalent in rural areas throughout the country. Some animists have been baptized but do not identify themselves as Christians, or they combine Christian and animist practices.
Christians are the third largest religious group, traditionally concentrated in the south and the Nuba Mountains. Widespread displacement and migration during the long civil war increased the population of Christians living in the north. While many Christians have returned to the south, Khartoum still has a significant Christian population. The Roman Catholic Church of Sudan and the Episcopal Churches of Sudan estimate they have six million and five million baptized followers, respectively, although active churchgoers are far fewer.
There are very small but long-established groups of Orthodox Christians in Khartoum and other northern cities, including Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox. There are also Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox communities in Khartoum and the east, largely made up of refugees and migrants. Other Christian groups with smaller followings include the Africa Inland Church, Armenian (Apostolic) Church, Sudan Church of Christ, Sudan Interior Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Sudan Pentecostal Church, Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (in the north), Presbyterian Church of the Sudan (in the south), and the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Sudan.
Religion plays a prominent role in the complex system of political alliances. Northern Muslims have dominated the political and economic system since independence in 1956. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the Government of National Unity (GNU) has appointed both Muslims and Christians to prominent executive positions.
The dominant political power in Sudan, the National Congress Party (NCP), draws its support from conservative Arab Muslims in the north. Its previous incarnation, the National Islamic Front, ruled from 1989 to 1998. Northern opposition parties draw their support from different Sufi brotherhoods: the Umma Party is closely connected with Arab followers of the Ansar sect, and the Democratic Unionist Party with the Khatmia sect. Opposition parties typically include non-Arab Muslims from the north, east, and Darfur.
Following the civil war, the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) became the dominant political power in the south, and is the main coalition partner with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in the GNU. The SPLM draws its support from Southern Christians, but regularly engages with Muslim opposition parties and rebel groups in Darfur and the east.
1. The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.
2. The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports annual estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivisions within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.
3. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.