The Egyptians conquered Sudan in 1874 and established the province of Equatoria. Islamic Mahdist revolutionaries entered the territory in 1885, but British troops defeated the invaders and took over Sudan in 1898. (Britain had occupied Egypt since 1882.) Britain and Egypt ruled the country in conjunction as Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Sudan Information and Travel Guide. Vacation package Book. In the early 20th century, Christian missionaries converted a large segment of the population and introduced English to the region. The result was a clearly defined line between the Arab north and the black African animists and Christians in the south. Egypt and Britain ruled Sudan until 1953, when Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was granted Sudan self-government. In 1955, army officers in the south mutinied, sparking a civil war between the north and south. Southerners accused the government, based in the north, of trying to force Islamic and Arab culture on the south. In addition, the south said the government reneged on promises to grant the south more autonomy through a federal system of government. Independence was proclaimed on Jan. 1, 1956, and the civil war dragged on until the 1972 signing of the Addis Ababa Agreement. About 500,000 people died in the war. Under the accord, the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was formed.