Suakin, Red Sea State, Sudan


Suakin is the historic port town of the Sudan. Suakin was the centre of a trade network that stretched from Indian and China in the East, Cairo and Baghdad in the North, Khartoum and Sennar to the West and Aksum and Mombassa to the South. The trade was plied by sailing ship and camel. The opening of the Suez Canal and the steamer trade put an end to Suakin's importance as the harbour was too shallow.

Suakin is an old port, on the Red Sea, similar to Venice in that it is located on a lagoon. Its golden age was in the 15th and 16th centuries. At that time it was the most important African port on the Red Sea. This is from Suakin that African pilgrims used to go to Mecca for the pilgimage. 6000 to 7000 people used to embark annually from Suakin.

After the first world war Suakin rapidly lost its importance and the island had already been deserted by 1930. Today only a few families live in the old town and on the mainland, The Geyf about 20.000 inhabitants. In 1973 and 1993 UNESCO did a survey with the aim of preserving Suakin. The old arabian towns constitute an outstanding cultural heritage. However they are threatened by numerous influences, amongst them the change in values and the infitration of modern ways of life connected with this.