Darfur is itself a very diverse place, made up of over 90 tribes and countless sub-clans. It is situated in western Sudan and covers an area the size of Texas, with a pre-conflict population of 6 million people. Darfur was an independent sultanate until it was incorporated into the rest of Sudan by British forces in 1916; however, it never received nearly the level of investment and development that Eastern Sudan and the Nile River Valley did under British rule. This marginalization continued under the string of central Sudanese governments that followed independence in 1956.
The ongoing genocide in Darfur has multiple interwoven causes. While rooted in structural inequity between the center of the country around the Nile and the “peripheral” areas such as Darfur, tensions were exacerbated in the last two decades of the twentieth century by a combination of environmental calamity, political opportunism and regional geopolitics.