The tribes can be categorized in eight main groups: 39% claims an Arab descent, 30% are of African origin, 12% are Bejja, 15% are Nubian and 4% other. As for languages, 51% of the population speaks Arabic and 49% speak other languages and dialects.

As regards Faith, 70% of the Sudanese people embrace Islam, 10% are Christians and 20% adhere to African creeds. Some populous tribal groups include:

  • Nubian tribes in the far North
  • Arab tribes in Central Sudan, Kordufan and Darfur
  • Beja tribes in Eastern Sudan
  • Mapan and Angassana tribes in Southern Blue Nile
  • Nubian tribes in Southern Kordufan
  • Southern Nilotic tribes in South Sudan

Administrative Boundaries South Sudan: Administrative Divisions, Tribal Distribution and means of Subsistence

  • South Sudan is administratively composed of 10 States: namely Upper Nile, Capital (Malakal), Central Equatoria (Juba) Lakes (Rumbek), Eastern Equatoria (Kapoeta), Northern Bahrel-Ghazal (Aweel), Warab (Warab), Unity State (Bentiu), Western Bahrel-ghazal (Wau), Eastern Equatoria (Yambio) and Jonglei (Bor).
  • Juba is the Capital of the South and the seat of its government.
  • South Sudan is comprised of three main ethnic groups, the Nilotic, Sudanese Nilotic and Sudanese groups.
  • Nilotic: Include the Dinka, Nuer and Shuluk tribes. These Major tribes depend mainly upon cattle husbandry, cows in particular, for which they hold special pride, fishing and agriculture.
  • Sudanese Nilotic: They share with the Nilotic genetic and linguistic features and as well as modes of subsistence(dependence on cattle rearing. Other tribes include Bari, Mundari, Taposa.
  • Sudanese Group: This includes the Zandi, Madi, Bon and other tribes living in the geographic belt between west of the Nile and near Sudan’s Southern and Southwestern frontiers. Economic activity of these tribes centers on agriculture, rather than herding because of the spread of Tse-Tse fly in their locations.
  • The South Sudan tribes embrace different faiths, including Islam, Christianity and indigenous African beliefs. Every tribe has its dialect in addition to a variant of Arabic that is used to communicate inter-tribally.
  • South Sudan’s equatorial climate is known for its heavy rainfall and dense forests.

Darfur Region: Administrative Divisions, Tribal Sketch and subsistence means

  • Darfur is divided administratively into three states: West Darfur and its capital (El-Genaina), North Darfur (El-Fasher) and South Darfur and its capital Nyala. El-Fasher is considered capital of the region.
  • Darfur is home to over 100 African and Arab tribes. The entire population of the region embraces Islam and speaks Arabic in addition to local dialects. The region is famed for cattle rearing and agriculture, meaning that the majority of the local populace is either pastoralist or farmers. –
  • Among the prominent in the region’s African tribes are the Fur, Zaghawa and Massalit clans. The Fur, after whom the region was named, is the largest of the three and 90% of its members do farming around Jebel Marra mountain in the center of the region and around the big towns. The majority of the two other tribes live on cattle-rearing. As for Arab tribes, they are headed by Rizeighat which is spread over central and southern Darfur. The Rizeighat tribe is considered pastoral, locally known as the “Baggara” or herdsmen, raising cattle and sheep. Small branches of the tribe live on farming around the town of Dhain. Other Arab tribes include Beni Halbeh, Habbaniya, Taisha, Salamat, Mahamis and Ma’alia who trace their ancestry back to the legendary north African knight “Abu Zaid Al-Hilali”. Darfur also houses many other tribes like Berti, Bargho, Turjum, Dajjo, Fallatah, Bodaya.
  • The region is home to Jebel Marra, the mountain whose ranges have a mild climate similar to that of the Mediterranean. The region is fertile and in the south there is Al-Radome Natural Reserve which hosts a variety of wild animals, forest woods and constantly witnesses heavy rainfall.

East Sudan Region Administrative Divisions, Tribal Distinctions and living means

  • East Sudan is divided into three states: the Red Sea with (Port Sudan) as its capital, Gedarif (Gedarif) and Kassala (Kassala). The Red Sea and Kassala are inhabited mainly by the Bejja tribe and Rashaida. The Beja embraced Islam in the middle of the ninth century. It branches into the Hadandawa tribesmen who dwell in Sinkat, Kassala, Haya towns, the Amarrar in Seloum, Port Sudan and Kassala in addition to the Bisharyeen, Bait Joke, Beni Amer and Halanga, the Ababdah in Shalatin, Qasireh in Halaib, Abu Ramad and Atbara, the Shuwak and Habab in Qaroreh, Aqior, Nagfa and Agordat and the Suwakniyeh in Sawakin and Port Sudan. The Bejja speak two main languages. The Tebdawi and the Tigrini. The former is derived from the dialect spoken in ancient Kush, which is influenced by Tigrinya and Arabic languages. A lot of the Bejja people also speak tebdawi, a language not transcribed.
  • The Eastern part of the Red Sea state is semi-desert and its population is pastoral. However, the states of Kassala and Gedarif pursue farming because of their abundant water resources from rains, rivers and underground reserves that has made their land so fertile. The two contribute effectively to food supplies.
  • Touristic potentials are found in the beaches of the Red Sea, regarded as one of the world’s beauty attractions for divers with its colorful coral reefs. Other coastal areas include the reputed Arousa village on the Red Sea, the island of Sanjaneb and the old historical town of Suakin.

North Sudan Administrative Divisions, Tribal Peculiarities and means of living

  • Sudan’s northern part comprises two states: the Northern State with Dongola as capital and the River Nile State and Damer its capital. The Northern State is the country’s largest state in respect of area.
  • The climate here is desert and semi-desert and the local population take farming as the main occupation where they grow on both banks of the river such crops as wheat, groundnuts, vegetables and fruits. A section of the people is engaged in trade.
  • Of the Northern State tribes of Nubian descent are the Halfaween, Sukkot, Mahas and Danagla.
  • These tribesmen have their own language and local tongues beside Arabic. They are followers of Islam. Other tribes in the State are the Kunooz, Jaafreh, Sawarb, Jawabreh, Bidairya Dahmashya, Kababish, Merafab, Karafab and others.
  • Main tirbes inhabiting this area are Shayqeih, from the 4th cataract until Debba, Jaalyeen from Abidya to Sabaloqa, Robatab from Berber to Abu Hamad and Manasir. All these tribes are of Arab descent, embrace Islam and engage in agriculture.
  • Northern Sudan have great touristic potentials represented by archaeological remains of Kush, Nepata and Merowe Kingdoms to old civilizations depicted by palaces, pyramids and relics of the civilization.

Central Sudan, Adminstrative Boundaries Tribal Distribution and means of Subsistence

  • Central Sudan includes seven states, the state of Khartoum with its capital (Khartoum), South Kordufan (Kadogli), Norht Kordufan (Obeid), Gezira (Medani), Sennar (Sinja), White Nile (Rabak), and Blue Nile and its Captial (Damazine). Tribes of Central Sudan are the Abdallab who inhabit the are north of Khartoum and parts of the Gezira and Blue Nile States.
  • They trace their origin back to Abdalla Jamaa who, with Amara Dongos, founded the first Arab-Islamic Sultanat in 1504 (Black Sultanate). There is also the Jamoiyeh tribe north and south of Omdurman. The abdallab take agriculture as main occupation while Jamoiyeh engage in farming and cattle-rearing. Of the tribes of central Sudan are the Funj, who forged an alliance with the Abdallab, to institute the Black Sultanate. They maintain that their descent goes back to the Muslim Khalif Hisham Ibn Abdul Malek Ibn Marwan from Beni Omayah. There are also the Mapan, Angassaneh, Hawsa and Ambroro tribes in the Blue Nile state. In the middle, there are the Massalamiyeh tribes, considered as the first Arabs to arrive the Gezira state where they built Khalwas and Qoranic schools (religious schools for learning and reciting the Quran).
  • There is the Dabasin tribesmen who are cousins of the Shukriyeh. The Dabsin are concentrated in the Gezira state. Tribes of Central Sudan further include Johayneh, Halawen, Batahin inhabiting the Butana plain between Atbara and Blue Nile rivers, in addition to Shukriyeh and Kawahla. Kordufan tribes comprise the Hammar who entered Sudan from Tusisa. They rear camels and sheep and produce gum Arabic, the Jawameh who are related to the Jaalyeen, engage in farming and rearing with the town of Rahad as their center, the Shanableh (camel drivers) and the Buzaa. In Kordufan there is also the Missiriya tribes who are pastoral and farmers. As for the Nubian tribes, they live in Southern Kordufan.


10 thoughts on “Tribal composition in Sudan”

  1. Abougassim says:

    This list is not inclusive, it is very disrespectful to Massalit , fur and Zaghawa tribes of Darfur. Darfur been war field between tribes of African origin and Arab, pointing only Arab tribes in Darfur irreverent and bias.

    1. Hussein says:

      Abougassim is absolutely right why is it only Arab tribes are talked about in details when majority of people who run Darfur is Massalit,Fur, and Zaghawa like this is not fair. And it very bias.

    2. Mosab says:

      My angry friend this not a research on Sudan society, it just a little orientation for people don’t know if Sudan in Africa or in Atlantic, I don’t know masali even I live in Sudan for 36 years

  2. Guot Jongkor Madut says:

    The list is not full because many tribes are not added !! Secondly, those tribes with their own dialects are not Arabs tribes ! Yes! They might have embraced Islam ☪️ as religion but that can’t let them be Arabs . For your information ℹ️,the real history for Sudan 🇸🇩 is not written and if written later,we will go beyond 500BC when the Islam ☪️ and Christianity ✝️ didn’t get in our soil. Less than 10 tribes mainly in Central Sudan 🇸🇩 are of the Arab origin but the rest in Northern part,Darfur,Eastern Sudan,Southern Sudan are of African origin . Tribes of central Sudan ,the like of Funji,Maban,Rizegaat,and many others are not Arabs even with little mark. No. The whole Darfur is of African origin. Sudan 🇸🇩 as country is not Arab nation but truly African nation . Stop hijacking the history! When I read the explanation,I understood how our fellow Sudan 🇸🇩 are brainwashed to have come in Sudan 🇸🇩 in historical topic”Coming Of People In Sudan”. Who are those who came to Sudan if not Arabs our salt 🧂 traders?? All were in Sudan before Islam ☪️ and Christianity ✝️ evolved . Our religions were indigenous African religions (Go to Black History and Kush Kingdom history ).

    1. Ahmed says:

      My brother I didn’t not say All Sudanese are Arab people, im even myself don’t look like Arab, but still many Sudanese call themselves Arab and even in Darfour you still calling many Groups as Arab, so it’s not something I just fabricated

  3. Jay says:

    This is very disrespectful to the native tribes. They are barely mentioned, why are all the Arab tribes fully described. This is the problem we have in Sudan, where being African is looked down upon. Shame on Sudan

    1. Ahmed says:

      It’s your problem my friend, Arab or African it just history or origin of our country, I did not say this group is better than others but because you all think of it the way that your mind present it

  4. Zuruf el Sudani says:

    I agree with you all my fellow African Sudanese, the history of coming of people to Sudan was written to fit Arab narrative. The Arabs wanted to make themselves feel like they had come to Sudan the same time as the African tribes. The truth and fact is that we did not go to Sudan , we were the origin and the natives of Sudan. Proper and appropriate title should and would have been” The entering or the coming of Arabs to Sudan” This title is more appropriate because the Arabs had found us already living in Sudan.

  5. Sudan is really Africans country, comprised many Africans indigenous in all part of sudan. Before the coming of Arabia into sudan, the north part of sudan was belong to funj and Gezira was belong to Dinka. In the west were DARFUR. Now aday the arabia are also indigenous of northern sudan and sudan will be called an Arabians state.

  6. Elbager Mohamed says:

    it’s good work my prayer for you to continue writing because we need to know .
    Sudan can contain us no matter whether you are Arab indian or Israelite my suggestion I need you and you need me so let’s agree to live as sudanese without tribes we can live without tribes we can prosper.
    my apeel to you please leave the tribes and let us be people of Sudan

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