The 20th century saw the growth of Sudanese nationalism and in 1953 Britain granted Sudan self-government. Independence was proclaimed on January 1, 1956. Since independence, Sudan has been ruled by a series of unstable parliamentary governments and military regimes. Under Gaafar Nimeiri, Sudan instituted fundamentalist Islamic law in 1983. This exacerbated the rift between the Arab north, the seat of the government and the black African animists and Christians in the south. Differences in language, religion, ethnicity and political power erupted in a civil war between government forces, strongly influenced by the National Islamic Front (NIF) and the southern rebels, whose most influential faction was the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), eventually concluding in the independence of South Sudan in 2011. Before the Sudanese Civil War, South Sudan was part of Sudan, but it became independent in 2011. Since 2011 Sudan's government is engaged in a war with the Sudan Revolutionary Front. Human rights violations, religious persecution and allegations that Sudan had been a safe haven for terrorists isolated the country from most of the international community. In 1995, the United Nations (UN) imposed sanctions against it.
The country's place nameSudan is a name given to a geographical region to the south of the Sahara, stretching from Western Africa to eastern Central Africa. The name derives from the Arabicbilād as-sūdān (بلاد السودان), or "the lands of the Blacks". The name is one of several toponyms sharing similar etymologies, ultimately meaning "land of the blacks" or similar meanings, in reference to the dark skin of the inhabitants.