What You Need To Know about Omdurman

Omdurman (standard Arabic: أم درمان‎ Umm Durmān) is the second largest city in Sudan and Khartoum State, lying on the western banks of the River Nile, opposite the capital, Khartoum. Omdurman has a population of 2,395,159 (2008) and is the national centre of commerce.

Area: 614,9 km²
Population: 3,829 million


  • Etymology

    The name Omdurman (Umm Durmān) literally translates as “Mother of Durmān”, but who she was or might have been is not known.



A map of Omdurman with Khartoum and Bahri. The city, now the location of the tomb of the Mahdi, grew rapidly. However, in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 (which actually took place in the nearby village of Kerreri), Lord Kitchener decisively defeated the Mahdist forces and killed the Khalifa, ensuring British control over the Sudan. In September 1898 the British army of twenty thousand of well drilled men equipped with the latest arms, Maxim guns and Martini-Henry rifles under the command of General Herbert Horatio Kitchener invaded Sudan. In the battle Omdurman, the British army faced Sudanese defenders consisting of over 52,000 poorly armed desert tribesmen dervishes. In space of five hours the battle was over. The Sudanese defenders suffered over 93 percent casualty with at least 10,000 killed. By contrast there were fewer than four hundred casualties on the British side with forty-eight British soldiers lost their life. Then, General Kitchener proceeded to order the destruction of the Mahdi’s tomb and in Churchill’s words “carried off the Mahdi’s head in a kerosene can as a trophy”. Kitchener restored Khartoum as the capital and, from 1899 until 1956 Sudan was jointly governed by Great Britain and Egypt. Although most of the city was destroyed in the battle, the Mahdi’s tomb was restored and refurbished. On 10 May 2008 the Darfur rebel group of the Justice and Equality Movement moved into the city where they engaged in heavy fighting with Sudanese government forces. Their goal was to topple Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government.



Khartoum features a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWhw) with a dry season occurring during “wintertime”, typical of the Saharo-Sahelian zone which marks the progressive passage between the Sahara Desert, vast arid areas and the Sahel, vast semi-arid areas. The climate is extremely arid for most of the year with about nine months where average rainfall is lower than 5 mm (0.20 in).

The very long dry season is itself divided into a hot, very dry season between November and March as well as a very hot, dry season between April and June. During this part of the year, hot, dry continental trade winds from deserts sweep over the region such as the harmattan (a northerly or northeasterly wind): the sky is perfectly clear, the weather is stable, very dry and the rainfall inhibition is total.

The very irregular, very brief, rainy season lasts about 1 month as the maximum rainfall is recorded in August with about 75 mm (3.0 in). The rainy season is characterized by a seasonal reverse of wind regimes, when the Intertropical Convergence Zone goes northerly. Average annual rainfall is very low, with only 121.3 mm (4.78 in) of precipitation. Khartoum records on average six days with 10 mm (0.39 in) or more and 19 days with 1 mm (0.039 in) or more of rainfall.



Arabic and English are the official languages



Omdurman features a hot arid climate, with only the summer months seeing noticeable precipitation. The city averages a little over 155 millimetres (6.1 in) of precipitation per year. Based on annual mean temperatures, the city is one of the hottest major cities in the world. Temperatures routinely exceeds 40 °C (104 °F) in mid-summer. Its average annual high temperature is 37.1 °C (99 °F), with six months of the year seeing an average monthly high temperature of at least 38 °C (100 °F). Furthermore, throughout the year, none of its monthly average high temperatures falls below 30 °C (86 °F). During the months of January and February, while daytime temperatures are generally very warm, nights are relatively cool, with average low temperatures just above 15 °C (59 °F).