South Sudan, officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in northeastern Africa that gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city.
The capital city is planned to be changed to the more centrally located Ramciel in the future. South Sudan is bordered by the Republic of the Sudan to the north, Ethiopia to the east, Kenya to the southeast, Uganda to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest, and the Central African Republic to the west. It includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal.
At a Glance
- Official Name: Republic of South Sudan
- Independence Day: 9 July 2011
- Capital City: Juba
- Time Zone: East African Time (GMT+3)
- Official Language: English
- Currency: South Sudan Pound (SSDG)
- Population: 8,260,490 (2008 census)
India, Arab Republic of Egypt, Republic of Uganda, Republic of Kenya, State of Eritrea, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, The Great Socialist People’s Arab Jamahiriya of Libya, British Embassy, The Royal Netherlands Embassy Office Juba, Norway, Italy, The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, China, South Africa, United States, France, Turkey, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.
Representative offices include the European Union Office, Joint Donor Team Office, Arab League of Nations, African Union, Japan International Cooperation Agency, World Bank, and Swiss Cooperation Office Juba.
RSS Missions Abroad:
Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa, Australia, Norway, Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada and United States of America
Transitional Constitution of South Sudan (2011)
The Republic of South Sudan has ten states. They include Central Equatoria (Juba), Western Equatoria (Yambio), Eastern Equatoria, (Torit), Jonglei (Bor), Unity (Bentiu), Upper Nile (Malakal), Lakes (Rumbek), Warrap (Kuacjok), Western Bahr el Ghazal (Wau), and Northern Bahr el Ghazal (Aweil).
Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM), National Congress Party (NCP), Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), Sudan African National Union (SANU), United Democratic Front (UDF), Union of Sudan African Parties (USAP 1), Union of Sudan African Parties (USAP 2), South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF), and United Democratic Salvation Front.
History of South Sudan
No state existed in the territory now known as South Sudan before the European scramble for Africa. The area only consisted of small, medium and large nationalities that coexisted in relative harmony.
The indigenous populations and their territories remain largely the same to date. This tranquil existence was interrupted by European invaders seeking trade commodities and markets.
South Sudan became the main source of trade commodities such as slaves, gold, ivory and timber. Thus, enormous human and other resources were plundered for generations.
Modern South Sudan emerged during the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1898-1955), upon the break-up of the Ottoman Empire. Britain and Egypt colluded to occupy Sudan with separate administrative arrangements for the north and south.
After the defeat of the Mahdist army in 1898 during the battle of Omdurman, North Sudanese accepted the rule of the new Anglo-Egyptian regime. However, South Sudanese rejected the regime and continued to fight for their independence.
This struggle for liberation continued for several years, even after Sudan obtained independence in 1956. Sadly, 37 of the past 56 years have been wasted on major civil conflicts; the first from 1955-1972 and the second from 1983 to 2005 when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed.
In fulfillment of a provision of the CPA, South Sudanese voted for total independence during the January 2011 referendum. South Sudan was declared a sovereign state on 9 July 2011.
The economy of South Sudan has been predominately rural-based and subsistent in nature
There are 30 commercial investment and agricultural banks operating in South Sudan under regulation of the Bank of South Sudan (BoSS). Commercial banks include Ivory Bank (1993), Nile Commercial Bank (2005), Buffalo Commercial Bank (2007), Bank of Ethiopia (2009), KCB Bank Group (2005) and Equity Bank (2009).
Still a growing sector, microfinance and microcredit institutions include Sudan Microfinance Initiative, Bangladesh Rural Cooperation (BRAC), Savannah Farmers’ Cooperation (SFC) and Finance Sudan
South Sudan has great agricultural potential. Of its 82 million-hectare land surface, more than half is estimated to be suitable for agriculture. Some common agricultural products include pineapple, cotton, groundnuts, sorghum, millet, wheat, cotton, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pawpaw, sugarcane, cassava and sesame
The majority of indigenous communities are pastoralists with an estimated 31 million cattle. Additionally, there are millions of poultry, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, sheep and other animals
Despite huge water bodies in South Sudan, commercial fishing remains largely unexploited. Fish species include Nile perch, tilapia, catfish, mudfish, lungfish, moon fish (opah) and electric fish
Natural forests and woodlands cover 29 per cent of the total land area of South Sudan. Currently, commercial exploitation is limited only to teak, natural mahogany and gum Arabic
Currently, the largest manufacturing plant is Southern Sudan Beverages Ltd, which produces beer and soft drinks. Manufacturing sectors, including sugar, textile, cement, fruit, vegetable and timber, were wiped out during the war. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has prioritized agro-based industrialization, with a focus on fruit processing, cereal processing and production of livestock.
Indigenous people of South Sudan can be broadly categorized into the Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic and the South-Western Sudanic groups.
Nilotic people include the Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Murle, Kachiopo, Jie, Anyuak, Acholi, Maban, Kuma, Lou (Jur), Bango, Bai, Ndogo, Gulu, Endri, Forgee, Chod (Jur), Khara, Ngorgule, Forugi, Siri, Zandi, Benga, Agar, Pakam, Gok, Ciec, Aliap, Hopi, Guere, Atuot, Apaak, Lango, Pari, Otuho and Ajaa.
Nilo-Hamitic groups include the Bari, Mundari, Kakwa, Pojulu, Nyangwara, Kuku, Latuko, Lokoya, Toposa, Buya, Lopit, Kuku, Kakwa, Nyabgwara, Tennet, Lopit and Didinga.
The South-Western Sudanic group includes Kresh, Balanda, Banda, Ndogo, Zande, Madi, Olubo, Murus, Mundu, Baka, Avukaya and Makaraka.
South Sudanese are world renowned for their impressive height. They are bold, patriotic, hospitable, honest and hard working.
South Sudanese communities generally live in semi-independent homesteads forming villages inhabited by close and extended relatives.
Their societies are structured into kinships, clans and villages administered by a king or chief, depending on the ethnic community.
South Sudanese practise Christianity, Islam and indigenous religions.
Some communities also believe in the power of spirits. Consequently, diviners, rainmakers, fortune-tellers and spear-masters are revered in these communities.
The South Sudanese generally eat together in groups differentiated by gender, age and social status.
Depending on their communities, South Sudanese enjoy a wide variety of foods. Some of their staple foods include milk, beef, dura (millet), sorghum, honey, fish, mutton, traditional herbs and vegetables, groundnuts, beans, wild game, sesame, finger millet and yams.
Traditionally, there is clear division of labour depending on gender, age and social status. Men generally fend for and defend the family while women are homemakers.
All communities have some form of initiation rite into adulthood.
Removal of lower teeth, facial markings, wearing of special beads and male circumcision (among the Bantu groups) are some of the common initiation rites practised by the people of South Sudan.
Marriage is one of the major milestones among South Sudanese and often involves all members of the immediate and extended families, including maternal relatives in some communities.
Ordinarily, youth do not engage in marital arrangements directly; their parents discuss, facilitate and organize marriage of their children. Various communities perform diverse rites during marriages. However, exchange of gifts between families is common.
Bride-price (dowry) is an important element of marriage. Marriage creates deep bonds between the families involved, making divorce impossible except where serious matters are involved. In case of a divorce, the whole dowry or part of it is returned to the man and his family.
Childbirth is also treated as special, with specific rituals being performed depending on the community and gender of the child. Children are generally named according to seasons and events or after relatives.
Due to the elevated status of cattle in most communities, children may also be named after the colour of the family cattle. Boys take the colour of bulls while girls take that of cows.
Funeral rites are very elaborate. Among the Dinka community, men are buried on their right and women on their left. Wife inheritance is also practised among several South Sudanese communities, ostensibly to enable a dead husband’s kinsmen to continue his lineage and protect his family.
Generally, a widow is inherited by close relatives, although in some communities she is free to pick an inheritor of her choice.
Art & Music
Modern music in South Sudan includes hip-hop, Sudanese fusion based on Arabic rythms, reggae and other Western cadres of music. Popular musicians include Emmanuel Jal, Mijok Lang, Major Laks, Gordon Kong, Emmanuel Marko Kembe, and Kennedy Lorya, among others.
Mr. Gordon Kong, one of the South Sudanese musicians.
There are also a number of South Sudanese gifted as fine artists, drawers, portrait makers, cartoonists, and sketchers, among others. Using acrylic colours, oil, water and soft pencils, these artists produce creative pieces of art that are recognized globally.
Some of the artists include Dau Yong Deng, Mareng Chuor Deng, Leek Thon, Pancol Jook and Joseph Garang Deng, among others.
South Sudan is a large country covering 619,745 square kilometers. It is very rich in natural resources. This wealth is one of the root causes of the several decades of war in the country.
The northern Arabs and Egyptians backed by the Khartoum government elites sought to plunder the wealth in the south. This is the main reason why they resisted the calls for separation because they new that would deny them a chance to access the great wealth.
The River Nile is the dominant geographic feature in South Sudan, flowing across the country. South Sudan is home to the world’s largest swamp, the Sudd, which covers a total area of 30,000 square kilometres.
The river and its many tributaries also provide access to almost unlimited sources of water which services the land, making it fertile to support diverse vegetation and crops.
Treasured natural resources such as various agricultural products like mangoes; minerals like gold and rough diamonds; and forestry resources like teak.