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In 1896 the British and the Egyptians again invaded Sudan, defeating the Sudanese in 1898 at the Battle of Omdurman. In 1922 the British adopted a policy of indirect rule in which tribal leaders were invested with the responsibility of local administration and tax collection.
This allowed the British to ensure their dominion over the region as a whole, by preventing the rise of a national figure and limiting the power of educated urban Sudanese.
Khartoum is the center for commerce and government; Omdurman is the official capital; and North Khartoum is the industrial center, home to 70 percent of Sudan's industry. Six percent are Beja, 2 percent are foreign, and the remaining 1 percent are composed of other ethnicities. These include the Jamala and the Nubians in the north; the Beja in the Red Sea Hills; and several Nilotic peoples in the south, including the Azande, Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk. There are more than one hundred different indigenous languages spoken in Sudan, including Nubian, Ta Bedawie, and dialects of Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic languages.
Despite a devastating civil war and a number of natural disasters, the population has an average growth rate of 3 percent. Arabic is the official language, spoken by more than half of the population.
This tore apart tribal and family structures and almost entirely eliminated several of the weaker tribes.
, when the city of Meroe was ransacked by the Ethiopians.
At about this time, three Christian kingdoms—Nobatia, Makurra, and Alwa—came into power in the area.
During the 1800s, the slave trade became a growing business in the region.
There had long been a system of domestic slavery, but in the nineteenth century, the Egyptians began taking Sudanese slaves to work as soldiers.