Sudan was still officially a united country at the start of 2011.
However, Southern Sudan was widely expected to secede and become a fully independent state following a referendum on independence in January 2011.
According to provisional results, nearly 99% voted for independence in the week-long referendum.
In 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended almost half a century of intermittent civil war. Since then, the south has been governed by the Sudan People.s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the former rebel movement, as an autonomous territory.
As a result, the media and telecoms landscape in the South has become very different from that of the North.
Broadcasting in the North remains under much tighter government control than in the south.
Since 2005, there has been a proliferation of private FM radio stations in Southern Sudan. This has increased the variety of programming available and has reduced the region.s dependence on short wave broadcasts.
Some of the telecoms companies that provide services in Southern Sudan are different from those in the North. One mobile operator in Southern Sudan even uses the international dialing code of Uganda to link to the rest of the world, rather than that of Sudan.
This guide therefore deals with Northern and Southern Sudan in two separate and self-contained sections.
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) gave Southern Sudan extensive autonomy to Southern Sudan and provided for a referendum on full independence to be held in the territory after five years.
Special arrangements were made in the peace agreement to decide the future of three disputed areas: Blue Nile State on the Ethiopian border, the fertile and oil-producing Abyei region in South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan. These are known as the Three Protocol Areas. They have been accorded local autonomy pending consultations with the local population on their future.
A 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force known as the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) was deployed to oversee implementation of the peace agreement and help maintain security, especially along the border between North and South.