The World's 193rd Country - South Sudan

On July 9, 2011 the world gained its 193rd country when the Republic of South Sudan celebrated its independence from the rest of Sudan.

South Sudan is land-locked and shares its borders with six countries – Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan and Ethiopia and covers an area of 32,000 square kilometres. The current president is Salva Kiir Mayardit, a 60-year-old battle-hardened army officer with a penchant for cowboy hats.

South Sudan is in East Africa and includes the huge swamp region of the Sudd formed by the White Nile. There is a range of habitats including grasslands, savannahs, swamps, floodplains, high-altitude plateaux and tropical forests. There are large populations of wildlife with some of the largest wildlife migrations in the world.

The population of the Republic of South Sudan is a mix of those who hold indigenous traditional beliefs and Christians. There are many tribal groups and many languages. The south and north areas of the Sudan have been at loggerheads for 38 of the 54 years that the region has been independent of Britain. The northern areas are mainly Muslim. Such prolonged periods of war have resulted in serious destruction and displacement. Over 2 million people have died and another 4 million or so are displaced persons or have become refugees.

States of South SudanCredit: Wikimedia

The main towns in South Sudan are Juba (the capital), Wau, Rumbak and Malakal. The capital is Jura, established on the west bank of the White Nile by Greek traders in 1922. The Greeks enjoyed an excellent rapport with the indigenous tribe of Juba, the Bari. Juba lies at 550 metres above sea level and has a population estimated at 372, 410. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the world thanks to money from oil.

Between 1899 and 1956, Juba was administered jointly by Britain and Egypt. Britain had hoped to join southern Sudan with Uganda but it was not to be. There was a push to unify northern and southern Sudan. A mutiny of southern soldiers led to the First Sudanese Civil War (1955-1972). This was followed by a second civil war which ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005. In the same year, the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan was formed.

Following independence, South Sudan became a United Nations member state on 14 July 2011 and a fortnight later joined the African Union.

Flag of South Sudan(61183)Credit: Wikimedia

The climate is tropical with high temperatures year-round. Total rainfall is about 39 inches. South Sudan spans latitudes 3oN to 13oN so is very near the equator.

South Sudan's main export is timber. Natural resources include petroleum, copper, iron ore, zinc, tungsten, silver and gold. It is estimated that 80% of Sudan's untapped oil resources are in South Sudan. There was no immediate agreement struck on how to split the revenue from oil exports as refining and exporting facilities are in the north.

The economy is mainly rural and subsistent, and is one of the weakest in the world. There is little existing infrastructure and the country has the world's highest rates of maternal mortality and female illiteracy. The reality is that a 15-year-old girl is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to complete her schooling. At least 80% of South Sudanese men are illiterate (and 92% of women), most civil servants have not finished secondary school and, in a country similar in area of France, there is believed to be less than 500 trained doctors.

With such statistics, Zimbabwe is set to move up from bottom spot on the index of human development. South Sudan will need much support if it is ever to become a viable nation.