The Sudan or Sudan (US: ( listen), UK: ; Arabic: السودان as-Sūdān) also known as North Sudan since South Sudan's independence and officially the Republic of the Sudan (Arabic: جمهورية السودان Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northern Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. It is the third largest country in Africa. The River Nile divides the country into eastern and western halves. Before the Sudanese Civil War, South Sudan was part of Sudan, but it became independent in 2011. Sudan's predominant religion is Islam, the official languages are Arabic and English. What is now northern and central Sudan was in ancient times the Meroitic-speaking Kingdom of Kush, which for a short time even ruled over Egypt as the 25th dynasty. Driven out of Egypt by the Assyrians in the 7th century BC it maintained itself in Sudan until the mid 4th century AD. After its fall the Nubians formed the three kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia, which converted to Christianity in the 6th century. In 642 and 652 respectively Makuria, now probably unified with Nobatia, managed to maintain its independence against the Rashidun Caliphate. Afterwards the Nubian kingdoms blossomed, while Muslim Arabs began to settle among the Beja people in the Sudanese Red Sea coast and the adjacent Eastern Desert.
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