Sudan is the largest and one of the most geographically diverse countries in Africa. Mountain ranges divide the deserts of the north from the swamps
and rain forests of the south, and the
River Nile splits the country from east to west.However, the country may split if the people in the south vote in a January 2011 referendum to separate and form the continent's newest state.
The country has been beset by conflict. Two rounds of north-south civil war cost the lives of 1.5 million people, and a continuing conflict in the western region of Darfur has driven two million people from their homes and killed more than 200,000.