Port Sudan is the main seaport for the country of Sudan, handling most of that country’s external trade. Lying on the continent of Africa’s eastern coast on the Red Sea, Port Sudan is about 160 nautical miles southwest of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, making it a travel point for Muslims embarking on their Hajj to Mecca through Jeddah Islamic Port. In 2000, about 410 thousand people lived in the urban area of Port Sudan, including Arab and Nubian Sudanese, indigenous Beja, West Africans, and some Europeans and Asians.
Port Sudan was built in the early 20th Century to replace the traditional port of Suakin that had become choked with coral. Port Sudan lies on the shores of a gulf connected to the Red Sea by an 18-26 meter deep coral-free channel. In addition to its modern dock facilities, Port Sudan is home to an oil refinery and an international airport. Petroleum comes to the Port Sudan refinery from on-shore wells and an 850-kilometer pipeline to Khartoum that was finished in 1977.
The British established Port Sudan in 1909 as the last stop of a railway line that linked the Nile River to the Red Sea. The railway moved Sudanese cotton, sesame seeds, and sorghum from Egypt’s rich agricultural fields to export markets through Port Sudan. Port Sudan also was a modern port used to replace the traditional but coral-choked port of Suakin.
Port Sudan is familiar to travelers for two primary reasons. Many Muslim pilgrims traveling from Africa for their Hajj to Mecca use Port Sudan as their departure point for their destination at Jeddah Islamic Port in Saudi Arabia. Port Sudan is also world-famous for its beautiful beaches and excellent scuba-diving opportunities.