Sudan uses the Sudanese pound as its normal daily currency. You can find out about its history and present status here.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
This version of the pound is decimal in nature and it is divided into 100 piastre or qirsh. There are a variety of coins available including the 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 piastre coins. There is also a one pound coin.
You can also find several banknotes in use that are all denominated in pounds. These are available as the 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pound notes.
From past to present – the history of the Sudanese pound
The pound has a long history in Sudan. Originally, back in the 19th century, the pound in use was the Egyptian pound. The first official Sudanese pound didn’t come into force until 1956, although it wasn’t used across the entire country. Part of it started using the dinar from 1992 onwards, although the south carried on using the pounds they were used to. To further complicate matters the Kenyan shilling was also brought into use at some point, so there were actually three currencies circulating in the country.
Sudan has gone through some real upheavals over time and the presence of three active currencies did not help matters at all. In fact even today inflation is not at a particularly good level. The Sudanese pound is now the only currency in use though, and it is hoped this will contribute to making the economy there far more stable than it has been at times in the past.
How to get hold of the Sudanese pound
Firstly you should note there is no way of getting hold of this currency outside of the country itself – at least not in your own country. So you won’t be able to order it from a bureau de change to ensure you arrive in Sudan with some in your pocket.
Once in Sudan (note: this may be nothing more than a moot point at present – do check the latest travel information and find out more below) you should look for banks or private exchange offices. These will enable you to exchange your own currency for that of the Sudanese pound. The best currency to take to exchange there is probably the US dollar, and indeed some places won’t even consider changing anything else. Other than that the usual options apply when more than one currency can be exchanged – namely the British pound and the euro.
Don’t think about taking traveller’s cheques with you as these are no good to use in Sudan. You won’t be able to find anywhere to exchange them. Furthermore this is a cash-based country so the idea of using a credit card is really out of bounds as well. To put it simply, the best way of getting by in Sudan is with cash – and nothing else.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Sudanese pound
You can get the information you need by seeking out a well-maintained currency converter. Be aware that some of these tools are updated far more frequently than others. It’s not unusual to come across one that updates every minute or so, and another one that may only be updated once a day. If getting the latest information is important to you, you should stick with the more up-to-date options.
As is the case with many foreign countries, Sudan has an embassy in the UK. This can be found in London and they also have a website which has more information about the country and its history, not to mention some more up-to-date news. You can view it at http://www.sudan-embassy.co.uk/.
Travelling safely with the Sudanese pound
Sudan is not the safest of countries you could visit, but at the time of writing it was not completely out of bounds. In fact there are large swathes of the country that can be visited, although you should always check on the latest government advice and information before planning any trips there.
For the most part the government advises against travelling to large areas of the country along the western and southern border areas. The UK government website has a map which depicts all the safe areas and the ones you should steer clear of if you do decide to go there.
Terrorism is unfortunately a potential threat in the country, but then many countries in the world are under similar threat. Stay alert and keep abreast of all the latest news while you are there, although of course there is usually little warning if an attack is likely to take place.
On the subject of petty crime, this does exist but it is not as problematic as it can be in other countries. The usual rules apply when it comes to protecting yourself. Carry as little in the way of valuables with you, especially if they are highly visible. Try and stay in a hotel where your room has a safe you can use.
It is also wise to avoid going near large groups in any area. Demonstrations do take place and have led to arrests, sometimes including foreigners who have got caught up in the melee.
Where to spend your pounds in Sudan – and what to spend them on
Sudan is more properly known as the Republic of Sudan, and can be located in North Africa. Most of its borders are shared with other countries, although there is a small section of the eastern side of the country that faces the Red Sea. Below this you will find Eritrea, followed by Ethiopia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Libya and Egypt, going in a clockwise direction.
The capital of Sudan is Khartoum, a place many will have heard of. It has quite an impressively modern skyline, which looks particularly engaging by night. Perhaps the most fascinating fact about Khartoum is that it is the point where the two Nile Rivers meet and join together as one. These are the White Nile and the Blue Nile. From here they go on to enter into Egypt.
There are some charming sights to see in the city, including the National Museum of Sudan. This is a must-see if you want to learn more about how the country as a whole has developed throughout the ages. As you might expect the history here goes back for centuries, so it really is a great place to go to understand how life has developed.
Elsewhere in the country you might be surprised to learn Sudan has its own pyramids. They’re not as big as those in Egypt but there are plenty of them. Here they are known as the Pyramids of Meroe, after the area where they can be found. There are dozens of tombs here and a selection of pyramids that were used as the final resting places of Royals from centuries ago.
If you’d like to add a national park to your list of places to go while you are in the country, you should check out the Dinder National Park. You’ll find it sitting in the south-eastern corner of the country and it is home to many spectacular animals. These include lions, giraffes, leopards and elephants among others. Many birds also stopover here when flying thousands of miles from one area to another.
Let’s finish with another historical site, this time the Temple of Amun. You’ll find this at Jebel Barkal and it is close to the Nile itself. This is rightly a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it dates from around the 1200s, so there is much history to be discovered here. You can see the remains of sculptures such as that of a ram, not to mention seeing the many columns that remain in some state or another. It really is a superb place and gives you pause for thought for how life might have been all those centuries ago.
Sudan is a country that doesn’t often come up as a great place to visit. Certainly there are areas you should steer well clear of, and keeping up-to-date with the latest situation there is important if you are planning a trip. However you should consider the idea of seeing some of the sights the country has to offer in the safer areas. It has a long history, some of which can be seen today. While you can learn much from the museum mentioned above, the opportunity to visit historic sites to see what remains of them is definitely very appealing too.
If you are one of those people who likes to explore the possibility of stepping back into the past, Sudan certainly has some locations that make this possible. The past still has much to share with us, and there are some unique sites in Sudan where it feels as though you have gone back in time. Whether you see the Temple of Amun or visit the pyramids we mentioned earlier, there is definitely a lot to take in.