Khartoum (in Arabic, al-Khartūm: الخرطوم, meaning elephant trunk) is the capital of Sudan, at the point where the White Nile coming from Uganda meets the Blue Nile coming from Ethiopia. The Nile flows north from here towards Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.
The city proper has a population of well over a million inhabitants, but forms with its neighbours Khartoum North (al-Khartūm Bahrī) and Omdurman (Umm Durmān) a metropolis totalling now probably over four million.
Troops loyal to the Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad laid siege to Khartoum starting on March 13, 1884 and captured the city, defended by General Gordon, on January 26, 1885. Omdurman was the scene of the bloody battle (September 2, 1898) in which British forces destroyed the Mahdist army defending the city.
Following the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, the United States, accusing Osama bin Laden's Islamic extremist al-Qaeda group of responsibility, retaliated with cruise missile attacks (August 20) on al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum.