KASSALA, a town and mudiria of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. The town, a military station of some importance, lies on the river Gash (Mareb) in 15 28' N., 36 24' E., 260 m. E.S.E. of Khartum and 240 m. W. of Massawa, the nearest seaport. Pop. about 20,000. It is built on a plain, 1700 ft. above the sea, at the foot of the Abyssinian highlands 15 m.W. of the frontier of the Italian colony of Eritrea. Two dome-shaped mountains about 2600 ft. high, jebels Mokram and Kassala, rise abruptly from the plain some 3 m. to the east and south-east. These mountains and the numerous gardens Kassala contains give to the place a picturesque appearance. The chief buildings are of brick, but most of the natives dwell in grass tukls. A short distance from the town is Khatmia, containing a tomb mosque with a high tower, the headquarters of the Morgani family. The sheikhs El Morgani are the chiefs of a religious brotherhood widely spread and of considerable influence in the eastern Sudan. The Morgani family are of Afghan descent. Long settled in Jidda, the head of the family removed to the Sudan about 1800 and founded the Morgani sect. Kassala was founded by the Egyptians in 1840 as a fortified post from which to control their newly conquered territory near the Abyssinian frontier. In a few years it grew into a place of some importance. In November 1883 it was besieged by the dervishes. The garrison held out till the 30th of July 1885 when owing to lack of food they capitulated. Kassala was captured from the dervishes by an Italian force under Colonel Baratieri on the 17th of July 1894 and by the Italians was handed over on Christmas day 1897 to Egypt. The bulk of the inhabitants are Hallenga " Arabs."
Kassala mudiria contains some of the most fertile land in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. It corresponds roughly with the district formerly known as Taka. It is a region of light rainfall, and cultivation depends chiefly on the Gash flood. The river is however absolutely dry from October to June. White durra of excellent quality is raised.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)