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, 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.
In 1952 Egypt's King Farouk was dethroned and replaced by the pro-Sudanese General Neguib.
In 1953 the British-Egyptian rulers agreed to sign a three-year preparation for independence, and on 1 January 1956 Sudan officially became independent.
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.
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.
When the British took control of Egypt in 1882, they were wary of the Mahdi's increasing power.
In the Battle of Shaykan in 1883, followers of the Sudanese leader defeated the Egyptians and their British supporting troops.
Also, European and Arab traders who came to the area looking for ivory established a slave-trade market.
This tore apart tribal and family structures and almost entirely eliminated several of the weaker tribes.