A fair share of the events described in the novel take place in the country of Sudan. Geographically, Sudan lies south of the Sahara Desert. It spreads nearly across the entire African continent from the state of Sudan as far as Senegal. Its name comes from Arabic and means “the land of the black people” – most of the indigenous population have dark skin.
The state of Sudan is a republic situated in north western Africa, south of Egypt, along the Nile. It covers nearly 2,000,000km² (775,000mi²) and has a population exceeding 30 million.
The territory of the country has long been inhabited, and such peoples as the Kushites and the Nubians, known for example from the Bible and other ancient texts, developed sophisticated societies in the area already thousands of years ago. In the early Middle Ages a large part of today’s Sudan was inhabited by Christians, yet as of the 7th century, in the wake of the influx of an Arab population, Islam developed there. Gradually, over the course of 800 years, it came to dominate there. From the 19th century until 1956 when Sudan became an independent state, it was the realm of influence of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Egypt on the one hand, and of global colonial powers, especially the British Empire, on the other. Such was the highly complicated historical background for the writing of In Desert and Wilderness.