1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Port Sudan

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PORT SUDAN, a town and harbour on the west coast of the Red Sea, in 19° 37′ N. 37° 12′ E., 700 m. by boat S. of Suez and 495 m. by rail N.E. of Khartum. Pop. (1906), 4289. It is the principal port of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and the headquarters of the customs administration. The coral reefs fringing the coast are here broken by a straight channel with deep water giving access to the harbour, which consists of a series of natural channels and basins. The largest basin is 900 yds. long by 500 broad and has a minimum depth of 6 fathoms. On the north side of the inlet are quays (completed 1909), fitted with electric cranes, &c. Here are the customs-house, coal sheds and goods station. The town proper lies on the south side of the inlet, connected with the quays by a railway bridge. Besides government offices the public buildings include hospitals, and a branch of the Gordon College of Khartum. Beyond the bridge in the upper waters of the inlet is a dry dock. The climate of Port Sudan is very hot and damp and fever is common. Adjacent to the town is an arid plain without vegetation other than mimosa thorns. Some 10 m. west is a line of hills parallel to the coast.

The port dates from 1905. It owes its existence to the desire of the Sudan administration to find a harbour more suitable than Suakin (q.v.) for the commerce of the country. Such a place was found in Mersa Sheikh Barghut (or Barud), 36 m. north of Suakin, a harbour so named from a saint whose tomb is prominent on the northern point of the entrance. When the building of the railway between the Nile and the Red Sea was begun, it was determined to create a port at this harbour—which was renamed Port Sudan (Bander es-Sudan). Up to the end of 1909 the total expenditure by the government alone on the town and harbour-works was £E914,320. The railway (which has termini both at Port Sudan and Suakin) was opened in January 1906 and the customs-house in the May following. Port Sudan immediately attracted a large trade, the value of goods passing through it in 1906 exceeding £470,000. In 1908 the imports and exports were valued at about £750,000. It is a regular port of call of British, German and Italian steamers. The imports are largely cotton goods, provisions, timber and cement; the exports gum, raw cotton, ivory, sesame, durra, senna, coffee (from Abyssinia), goat skins, &c. Forty miles north of Port Sudan is Mahommed Gul, the port for the mines of Gebet, worked by an English company.

The Foreign Office Report, Trade of Port Sudan for the Year 1906, by T. B. Hohler, gives a valuable account of the beginnings of the port. A chart of the harbour was issued by the British Admiralty in 1908. See also Sudan: § Anglo-Egyptian.