Sudan stands at a crossroads with the people of the south set to vote in January on whether to become an independent state. This referendum is part of a 2005 peace deal which brought to an end a devastating 22-year civil war which left two million people dead and the same number homeless. Now, with the south likely to secede, Sudan's borders will need to be rewritten charting a new course in history.
Al Jazeera looks at the racial issues behind the split, the impact of Sudan's rich resources, and the developmental challenges that lie ahead.
Sudan is a nation cursed by years of internal conflict, but blessed with natural resources. For decades rebels have battled for power, now the people of south Sudan will decide by ballot whether to split from the North.
But a divided Sudan faces a struggle to separate two resources that garner intense demand: oil and water.
Many in the south hope a referendum on splitting from the North will give them the chance to build a new African nation, but others fear it will spark a bloody battle over the country's resource-rich land.
Sudan has 6.7bn barrels of oil reserves, mostly in the South, 105mn hectares of usable farmland, also mostly in the South. The Nile provides 149bn cubic metres of water reserves each year, and the country has massive but uncharted mineral wealth.
With the division of Sudan on the horizon, south Sudan will swallow much of the Nile river basin and the bulk of the current nation's oil reserves. But even if this country is formally divided, some of its key industries will prove overtly difficult to separate.
Sudan has oil concessions all over the country, exploration projects lead by some of the world's biggest multinationals are ongoing. So far, the majority of exploitable oilfields have been in the south, but the refineries to turn the crude into a usable product are located in the northern part of the country.
The country's only pipelines cross from the south to the sea - where it can be exported from Port Sudan in the North. If the state is split, the two new countries will have to cooperate if they want to profit. To establish their own, self-sufficient oil industries, they would need time, money and investment.
Al Jazeera examines Sudan's division of resources, and reports from Russia, France and China on how and why the superpowers are spending their money and time on Sudan.
We take a closer look at two of the leading figures in Sudanese politics: John Garang, a figurehead for the southern struggle, and Hassan Turabi, one of al-Bashir's main rivals in the north.
An architect of US policy in the region, the former top US diplomat Jendayi Frazer, joins us from Washington. Plus, the people of Sudan let us know what they really want for the future of their country.
Source: Al Jazeera