Lost city in Darfur

Posted by bdiscoe on 10 December 2013 in English (English)

I was mapping in rural Darfur today and discovered an entire city which was completely unknown/unmapped. It did not appear in Google, Bing, OSM or anywhere else, not even as a village dot. It's 90 km SSE of Nyala, Sudan (latlon: 11.28, 25.14, i.e. with an airstrip, two large markets, and large street grid. I've mapped it now, anyone care to find a name for the city?

Comment from Stereo on 10 December 2013 at 02:48

This is really quite fascinating. I'm not sure I searched the right way, but there doesn't seem to be a wikipedia article for that location either.

Comment from z-dude on 10 December 2013 at 07:46

It may be Gereida

The library of Texas has a huge map collection, some older maps and some US govt maps are public domain.

Comment from z-dude on 10 December 2013 at 08:19

There's some place names in this map as well. but I think the towns may have changed names since then, Buram is on the map between 24 and 26 degrees in an upper quadrant.

Comment from Wynndale on 10 December 2013 at 18:30

If it really is Gereida you could try asking Oxfam, the Red Cross or Action Contre la Faim if they can trace someone who worked there or may have done town planning. Maybe someone in HOT already has a contact.

Comment from bdiscoe on 11 December 2013 at 06:10

Thanks alexz! I'm not sure if the big town I found is "Gereida", but the town farther south is definitely Buram, so I added Buram there and named it. As you say, Darfur has clearly changed a ton since those 1963 maps (I picked a well-known city like Al Fashir, and it's almost unrecognizable now from how it is on those maps.)

Comment from z-dude on 11 December 2013 at 08:25

I'm sure that it's Gereida because the coordinates match the UN map The size of the city matches the approx 120,000 people there.

I think Gereida needs it's own Wikipedia article. The population was 120,000 in 2008
In the last week, 10,000 people moved there. Gereida is a term used in the news.

This UN map has a 'Gerida' I'm not sure if that's the name of a small village before 130,000 people moved in.

This UN map calls it Graida

This UN map calls it Gereida.

Unicef shows 'Gerida'

Oxfam calls it Gereida

I think most of the aid groups call it Gereida.

This BBC story says that Oxfam pulled out of Gereida in 2007

I think you're doing a great job mapping these two cities.

Comment from afonin on 11 December 2013 at 11:45


This town is signed on an old Soviet map as 'Саадун' (Saadun). Proof: There is a little difference in coordinates (11.27/25.13 in OSM; 11.16/25.08), but remember: - there was no GPS at Soviet period, so little mistakes are possible; - Saadun looks like your unknown town: angle of street grid, empty NWW part of town, little river on the north side.

Well, there is a town Sa'dun on another map:

Probably, "Sa'dun" is an old name of 'Gereida', such as 'Leningrad' and 'Saint Petersburg' in Russia?

Please excuse me if I'm wrong.

Comment from Wynndale on 11 December 2013 at 20:11

Your town (Sa’dun on the Russian map) is unlikely to be Gereida because it was an established town when the map was made. The Russian map has a village called Umm Bereida about 10km to the west and Bing imagery there has a pattern of disturbed ground.

Comment from z-dude on 18 December 2013 at 07:44

There's 2 camp-like spots about 40 km's west of Buram. Perhaps that's the real location of Gereida.

Comment from bdiscoe on 19 December 2013 at 05:01

Thanks everyone! Amazing research and maps you've all found. I've added an OSM place=town node to indicate that this is "Gereida", with "Gerida" as alt_name.

Comment from equiserre on 19 December 2013 at 21:56

After reading the last comment of Alexz, I started to search for new cities in that area and I found several. I have maped as many as I found, but they keep apearing. Losts of them are small vilages, but I found big cities like: Tulus Katayla Abu Ajura + Abu Ajala +Unknown Al Marwahah +Unknown Losts of Unknow cities here I named only the ones that I was really sure about. The rest remain without name.

I also named some cities that were already on the map but didn't have any name, like: Um Danga Abu Sellala Idd al Ghanam It's my first time mapping in Darfur. Thanks bdiscoe for the inspiration!

Comment from bdiscoe on 20 December 2013 at 11:40

Equiserre, great work! I am glad to see you found names for places like Um Danga which I had mapped but left unnamed.

Alexz, I have now made a wikipedia article at

Comment from z-dude on 22 December 2013 at 11:41

Great work with the Wiki article!

Comment from mxfh on 10 January 2014 at 00:42

There is a KML/Shapefile containing 30,990! gelocated settlement names here:

It is named Gereida/Garienda/Gerida Saadun is just north of it at

Comment from Firefishy on 10 January 2014 at 00:58

Link back to HN discussion of this thread:

Comment from sbp  on 10 January 2014 at 01:03

According to this map:

This town is more likely to be the camp Donkey Dereisa. Gereida is much further to the south. This map also assists in marking many of the other currently unknown camps in OSM.

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