Khartoum, the Origin of the Name, its Borders and Administrative Divisions
Opinions varied about the origin of the name of Khartoum, but perhaps the most correct of these origins is attributed to the original Arabic title since the city lies at the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile in a shape similar to the elephant’s proboscis “trunk” which denotes a tongue of a land extending into a body of water.
However, there is a famous historical tale says that during the Romans conquest of Egypt, they had sent a campaign to Sudan, upon its arrival at the current site of Khartoum, the invaders found the sunflower plant whose seeds were called Qurtom “Safflower”. The Roman soldiers collected these seeds and squeezed them to obtain its oil which they used in healing their wounds. Over the years the word “Qurtum” has been evolved and changed to Khartoum. There is also another belief that the origin of the name “Khartoum” was derived from the word Khor at-Tom, but it lacks historical basis.
Khartoum is characterized by its unique location overlooking the great Nile River with a wonderful panoramic shoreline which gives magnificent views of the City. it is located in the heart of Sudan at the confluence of the White and Blue Niles known as "al-Muqran", where meet the two of the flowing rivers meet together, each keeping its distinguished color, between them a barrier which they do not transgress, thus offering an exciting and unique scenery, and together they form, in their brotherly embrace, the great Nile River. The two Niles look more visible in this shape in the flood season.
Khartoum, serves as the political, cultural and commercial centre of Sudan, where offices of the state, governmental institutions, ministries, embassies, international and regional organizations are located. There are also many other facilities in the City such as the main airport “Khartoum International Airport,” museums and hotels, in addition to many venues that offer the community a range of services and activities.
The State of Khartoum lies between latitude 15-16 N and longitude 31.5 -34 East with a length of 250 k and a total area of 28.165 km2, bounded on the north, and the east sides by the River Nile State, on the northwestern side by the Northern State, and on the eastern and southern sides by Kassala, Gedaref and Gezira States.
Climate: (Rainfall & Temperature)
Most of Khartoum State falls within the semi-desert climatic zone while northern areas lie in desert zones. The State’s tends to have hot and extremely hot summers, and sometimes ranging from hot to very hot. Rains become increasingly heavy in summer, and winters are usually cold and dry. The average of rainfall varies from 100 to 200 mm per annum in the northeastern areas and between 200-300 mm in the northwestern areas.
April to June are the height of summer with temperatures ranging between 25-40 degrees, and varies between 20-35 degrees in the months from July through October, However, temperatures continue to drop in winter from November through March when it varies between 25-15 degrees.
Khartoum is divided geographically into the following three blocks:-
First Block: Starts from "al-Muqran, the junction of the Blue and White Niles.” The block is confined between the two rivers, and extends southwards to the boundaries of Gezira State. Administratively, it is divided into two localities, i.e. Khartoum and Gabal Owlia localities. The State is characterized by Sundus and Soba Agricultural Schemes in both Gabal Owlia and Khartoum localities, along with a number of livestock, poultry, fishing projects, besides farms of vegetables, fruits and fodder production projects.
Second Block: The Northern block, which lies between the Blue Nile and the River Nile. It includes the localities of Khartoum North and Khartoum East. Khartoum North is the largest of all towns in this block, it comprises many agricultural projects such as Soba East and Seleit agricultural projects, as well as the largest dairy projects, known as Kuku Village Project. Khartoum North is the industrial centre of the region and the country as it constitutes the largest industrial areas of Sudan
Third Bloc: This block is located west of the White Nile and the River Nile. Omdurman is part of a tri-city metropolitan area, with Khartoum and Khartoum North, it is comprised of three (3) localities, Omdurman, Um Badda and Karari. However, the city of Omdurman is the biggest among them, where many archeological sites and historical, religious and popular markets exist. It is known as the historical capital of the Sudan whose history dates back to the pre- Mahdia revolution era. The western part of Omdurman is distinguished by its rich hunting natural resources.
Population and Activities:
According to 2008 Census population estimates, the total population of Khartoum state has reached about 5 million who form a mixture of all Sudan tribes.
If we want to identify the tribes inhabiting the State of Khartoum in some detail, it becomes apparent that the outskirts of the cities and rural areas are inhabited by recognized tribes, for example, in some parts of Omdurman and the Southern rural areas live the tribe of Gamow’iya and Kordofanian tribes, the latter migrated to this area after drought and desertification that hit the regions in the past years (early and mid-eighties) there live the tribes of Kababish and the Kawahla, while in the northern countryside of Karari Province we find the tribe of Shiheinat, in Khartoum North live the tribes of ‘Abdallab and Batahin, and in the Eastern part of the Nile live the tribes of Abu Dileig, Batahin, and Kawahla, while the tribe of ‘Iseilat live in Um-Dawwan Ban.
Members of the working class in the State of Khartoum vary according to the community needs, desires, culture, standard of education and the environment. Most of the residents are workers and employees at government offices, private sectors and banks. There is also a large portion of business men who work in trade, industry and real estate, to mention a few, and another segment of immigrants and displaced people who eke out their living through a combination of several marginal activities. As for rural areas population, we find that most of them are engaged in agricultural and grazing activities, they provide the capital, Khartoum with vegetable, fruits and dairy products. Also there are those who live along the River Nile banks working in pottery, bricks or fishing
Historical Buildings, Museums, and Archaeological Sites in Khartoum State
Sudan, in general, is a country considerably rich in archaeological wealth, and Khartoum State, in particular, is steeped in a rich archaeological heritage some of which date back to different periods of civilization throughout history
The State is the home to several museums, among them a number of specialized museums, namely the National Museum which is a magnificent landmark of Khartoum, as it covers all eras of civilization since prehistoric times until the age of Fung, plus others such as Sudan Museum of Natural History, the Folklore and People Heritage Museum, the Center for Folklore Studies of the National Authority for Literature and Arts and the Museum of the City of Omdurman known as Ibrahim Hijazi Museum.
An Overview of the Museums’ History:
1- Sudan National Museum:
Located in Khartoum Province. The museum has been inaugurated in the year 1971, it consists of the following two parts:
This one includes the museum's park, an open space which comprises the temples that have been rescued following the construction of the High Dam which submerged archeological sites. These temples had been dismantled and
relocated to this area which includes a number of collectibles and archaeological antiques dating back to several historical periods of civilization extending from the Paleolithic ear up to the end of Fung period in 1821. The museum is located on the green and leafy Nile Street at the Muqran.
2- Khalifa House Museum:
Khalifa ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad (Torshain) was the second in command of al-Mahdi and succeeded him after his death. His house has been transformed in a Museum
which is Located in Omdurman Province. The Museum had been built in two phases, the first phase had been implemented in the period from 1887 through 1888, and the work had been completed on its second phase (second floor) in 1891. The construction process had been tested by Hamid Abdel Nur, under the supervision of the Italian architect Pietro.
The house itself is interesting to see, it is a beautiful example of the traditional mud-brick building. It shows a lot of objects from the days of the Mahdi and exhibits on the weaponry used in his days. It also shows one of the first automobiles imported into Sudan and it has some very interesting plumbing that was added later by the British.