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Khartoum is the capital of Sudan and part of its largest metropolitan area; it is also the capital of North Sudan in the present power-sharing agreement. It is really a metropolitan area and twin city with Omdurman, where the White Nile River and Blue Nile River rivers join into the main Nile River. The population of Omdurman is actually greater than that of Khartoum City; they are both in Khartoum State.

Much of Sudan's key industry is located here, such as the first oil refinery, which is the terminus of the pipeline from the oil fields of South Sudan. It has an international airport, which can get fuel from the refinery; exported products then go to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, approximately 160 miles northwest. There is a major highway between the Khartoum area and Port Sudan, built by Osama bin Laden's construction company.

Khartoum was the site of a major battle, at which the British were defeated in the Mahdi War and Gen. "Chinese" Gordon killed; the classic movie Khartoum deals with this battle. The British, including a brash young lieutenant-journalist named Winston Churchill, took back control at the Battle of Omndurman