Early civilisations sprung along the Nile during the 8th century BC. The kingdom of Kush was formed that conquered Egypt. Egyptian culture and ways became a part of Kush, including burying the kings in pyramids. Christianity was the religion in the 6th century AD and Islam came into the country in the 14th century. Modern Egypt conquered Sudan and turned it into a slave market in the 1820s. Britain was also keen to control the area around the Suez Canal and was resisted by the Mahdist armies. Mahdi Mohammed Ahmed is a revered figure whose armies threw both Egypt and Britain out of Khartoum. However, it was re-conquered in 1898 that left the Sudanese resistance movement again fighting for independence. The country gained independence in 1956.
A civil war on and off between the north and the Christian dominated south broke out. For five decades, the civil war took an estimated two million lives. President Nimeiri granted the south autonomy and ended the civil war in 1972. Civil war returned when the economy of the south went into decline. Sudan saw a history of coups and in 1989 General Omar al-Bashir took control. The South gained its independence in 2011 although clashes continue. President Bashir became the first head of state to be tried by the International Criminal Court for inhuman crimes.