The total population of Sudan has considerably increased over the last decades, reaching 41.5 million in 2018, compared to 27 million in 2000. The population growth rate averaged at 2.4 percent for the past two decades. The population is young with 61.6 percent of the total population below the age of 24 and the fertility rate at 4.6 births per woman.[1] The majority of Sudan's population is rural, with an urban population of just 34.6 percent in 2018.[2] The maternal mortality in Sudan is high, it reached 311 per 100,000 live births in 2015, two times higher than the regional average of 156 per 100,000 live births.[3]

Sudan is a lower-middle-income[4] and low-income food-deficit country[5] with 46.5 percent of the population living below the national poverty line and 52.4 percent considered as multi-dimensionally poor according to the latest human development report in 2018.[6] As a result of the ongoing conflicts in Sudan, 5.5 million people were targeted for humanitarian assistance in 2018, 3.1 million of which in Darfur. By the end of 2017, Sudan was home to 1.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).[5]

The adult literacy rate in Sudan was 75.9 percent of the total population in 2015.[7] Gross enrollment rates in Sudan fall far below the regional averages. The primary enrollment rate leveled at 73.5 percent, compared to a regional average of 95.9 percent in 2015. Tertiary enrollment rate reached 16.9 percent, compared to 28.5 percent regional average in 2014. Gender Parity Index (GPI) at the primary level scored 0.92 in 2015 and 1.06 at the tertiary level.[3]

Driven by agriculture, which assumes 30.4 percent of GDP in 2017[2], Sudan’s GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) leveled at Int$ 181 billion and a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of Int$ 4,480 in 2017.[3] The secession with South Sudan in 2011, taking away three-quarters of the country’s oil production and half of its fiscal revenues, caused a structural shock to the Sudanese economy and real GDP growth (constant 2005 prices) contracted by 1.3 percent and 3.4 percent in 2011 and 2012, respectively.[8] The economy started recovering in 2013 and real GDP growth averaged at 3.7 percent in 2018.[8] Fiscal consolidation and tight monetary policy helped reduce inflation to 19.8 percent 2015, however increased to reach 43.5 percent in 2018.[8] Driven by the Government’s fiscal reforms, tax revenues rose to 77.7 percent of Government revenues in 2015, up from 49.1 percent of Government revenues in 2011.[9] The fiscal deficit decreased from 3.3 percent of GDP in 2012 to 1.1 percent of GDP in 2014, and rose again to 1.2 percent in 2015. Regarding public debt, the rate in 2018 reached a high value of 97.7 percent of GDP, up from 77.4 percent of GDP in 2013.[10]

The labor force participation rate in Sudan remained stable over the 2000-2018 period, ranging between 50.5 percent and 46.4 percent. The labor force participation rate for men (69.8 percent) was however around three times bigger than that of women (23.5 percent) in 2018. The total unemployment rate was estimated at 13.4 percent in 2018. Unemployment is higher for women and youth than for the other population categories. Women unemployment rate registered 19.3 percent compared to 11.3 percent for men in 2018. Youth unemployment rate stood at 22.1 percent in 2018 with the biggest burden falling on young women, where their unemployment rate registered 31.6 percent compared to 18.5 percent for young men in 2018.[11]

This overview was last updated in December 2018. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[3] The World Bank. 2018. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at:​ [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[4] The World Bank. 2018. The World Bank in Sudan, Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[5] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 2018. Humanitarian response plan. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[6] United Nations Development Programme. 2018. 
Human development report. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[7] UNESCO Institute for Statistics. 2018. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 December 2018].
[8] International Monetary Fund. 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[9] Sudan Central Bureau of Statistics. 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[10] International Monetary Fund. 2017. IMF executive board concludes 2017 article IV consultation with Sudan. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 December 2018].
[11] International Labor Organization. 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: ​ [Accessed 14 December 2018].

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Data Highlights

  • The majority of Sudan's population is rural, with an urban population of just 34% in 2016.

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