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 Jewel of

The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with its own independent government and sovereignty, GDP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.

South Sudan: Bold, new challenges after secession


South Sudan, officially known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in east- central Africa. It is landlocked by EthiopiaSudanCentral African RepublicDemocratic Republic of the CongoUganda and Kenya. It has a population of 11.4 million, of which 525,953 live in the capital and largest city Juba.

It gained independence from Sudan in 2011, making it the most recent sovereign state or country with widespread recognition as of 2022. South Sudan includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal meaning "Mountain River.”

The name Sudan is a name given to a geographical region to the south of the Sahara, stretching from Western Africa to eastern Central Africa. The name derives from the Arabic bilād as-sūdān, or the "Land of the Blacks.”

Geography, fauna, flora

South Sudan is covered in tropical forest, swamps, and grassland. The White Nile passes through the country winding by Juba. South Sudan's protected area of Bandingilo National Park is site of the second-largest wildlife migration on Earth. Close monitoring reveals that Boma National Park, west of the Ethiopian border, the Sudd wetland and Southern National Park near Congo, serves as habitat for large populations of hartebeestkob, topibuffalo, elephants, giraffes, and lions.

South Sudan's forest reserves also provides habitat for bongogiant forest hogsred river hogs, forest elephants, chimpanzees, and forest monkeys. Surveys begun in 2005 by the South Sudan- ese government revealed that significant populations still exist, and that, astonishingly, the huge migration of 1.3 million antelopes in the southeast is substantially intact. Habitats in the country include grasslands, high-altitude plateaus and escarpments, wooded and grassy savannas, floodplains, and wetlands. Associated wildlife species include the endemic white-eared kob and Nile Lechwe, as well as elephant, giraffe, common elandgiant elandoryx, lions, African

wild dogs, cape buffalo and topi antelopes.

The Boma-Jonglei Landscape region encompasses Boma National Park, broad pasturelands and floodplains, Bandingilo National Park, and the Sudd, a vast area of swamp and seasonally flooded grasslands that includes the Zeraf Wildlife Reserve.

Little is known of the fungi of South Sudan. A list of fungi in Sudan was prepared by S. A. J. Tarr and published by the then Commonwealth Mycological Institute (Kew, Surrey, UK) in 1955. The list, of 383 species in 175 genera, included all fungi observed within the then boundaries of the country. Many of those records relate to what is now South Sudan. Most of the species recorded were associated with diseases of crops. The true number of species of fungi in South Sudan is probably much higher.

Several eco-regions extend across South Sudan: the East Sudanian savannaNorthern Congo- lian forest—savanna mosaicSaharan flooded grasslands (Sudd), Sahelian Acacia savannaEast African montane forests, and the Northern Acacia–Commiphora bushlands and thickets.


South Sudan has a tropical climate, characterized by a rainy season of high humidity and large amounts of rainfall followed by a drier season. The temperature on average is always high with July being the coolest month with an average temperatures falling between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit and March being the warmest month with average temperatures from 73-98 degrees F.


Juba is the capital and largest city of South Sudan. The city is situated on the White Nile and also serves as the capital of the Cen- tral Equatoria State. It

is the world's newest capital city, and has a population of 439,993.  Juba was established in 1920 by the Church Missionary Society in a small Bari village, also called Juba. The city was made the capital of Mongalla Province in the late 1920s. Juba was made the capital of the Autonomous Government of South- ern Sudan in 2005.

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South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in the southern region of the African continent. However, after the nation became independent in July 2011, southern and northern negotiators were not immediately able to reach an agreement on how to split the revenue from these southern oilfields.


Agriculture in South Sudan plays a major part in the nation's economy. 

Agriculture and livestockare the main sources of livelihood for most of the Sudanese population. It is estimated that 80 per- cent of the labor force is employed in this sector, including 84 percent of the women and 64 per- cent of the men. Ag pro-  made up 80-95 percent of exports until the oil industry came on line. Total sector activities contributed an estimated 35.5 percent of GDP in 2006, a decline from the years prior to the devel- opment of the oil industry.


The most rainfall is seen between May and October, but the rainy season can commence in April and extend to November. On average May is the wettest month. The season is " influenced by the annual shift of the Inter-Tropical Zone" and the shift to southerly and southwesterly winds leading to slightly lower temperatures, higher humidity, and more cloud coverage.

History and independence

On July 9, 2011, South Sudan became the 54th independent country in Africa. The day is now celebrated as Independence Day, a national holiday. As of July 14, 2011, South Sudan became the 193rd member of the United Nations. On July 27, 2011, South Sudan became the 54th country to join the African Union.


The now-defunct Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly ratified a transitional constitution shortly before indepen- dence.The constitution was signed by President Salva Kiir Mayarditt, the first president on July 29 as the supreme law of the land. The constitution establishes a presidential system of government headed by a president who is head of statehead of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. It also establishes the National Legislature comprising two houses: a directly elected assembly, the National Legislative Assembly, and a second chamber of representatives of the states, the Council of States.

Economy, oil

The economy of South Sudan is one of the world's most underdeveloped with South Sudan having little existing infrastructure and the highest maternal mortality and female illiteracy rates in the world as of 2011.  South Sudan exports timber to the international market. The region also contains many natural resources such as petroleum, iron orecopperchromium ore, zinctungstensilvergolddiamondshardwoodslimestone, and hydro-power. The country's economy, as in many other developing countries, is heavily dependent on agriculture.

The oilfields in the south have been significant to the economy since the latter part of the 20th century. South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa.[206] However, after South Sudan became an independent nation in July 2011, southern and northern negotiators were not immediately able to reach an agreement on how to split the revenue from these southern oilfields.

It is estimated that South Sudan has around 4 times the oil deposits of the Republic of Sudan. The oil revenues, according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), were split equally for the duration of the agreement period.  Since South Sudan relies on pipelines, refineries, and Port Sudan's facilities in Red Sea state in Sudan, the agreement stated that the government of Sudan in Khartoum would receive a 50 percent share of all oil rev- enues. This arrangement was maintained during the second period of autonomy from 2005 to 2011.

In the run up to independence, northern negotiators reportedly pressed for a deal maintaining the 50-50 split of oil revenues, while the South Sudanese were holding out for more favorable terms. Oil revenues constitute more than 98 percent of the government of South Sudan's budget according to the government's Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. This amounted to more than $8 billion in revenue since the signing of the peace agreement.

After independence, South Sudan objected to Sudan charging US$34 per barrel to transport oil through the pipe- line to the oil terminal at Port Sudan. With production of around 30,000 barrels per day at a daily cost of more than one million dollars. In January 2012, South Sudan suspended oil production, causing a dramatic reduction in revenue and food costs to rise by 120 percent. In 2017, Nile Drilling & Services became South Sudan’s first locally owned and run petroleum drilling company.


South Sudan's forest reserves provide protective habitat for bongogiant forest hogsred river hogs, forest ele- phants, chimpanzees, and forest monkeys. A major annual spectacle in the Republic of South Sudan is the migration of 1.3 million antelopes.


China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is a major investor in South Sudan's oil sector, whose economy is under pressure to diversify away from oil as oil reserves will likely halve by 2020 if no new finds are made, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


Rail: South Sudan has 154 miles of single-track gauge railway line from the Sudanese border to Wau terminus. There are proposed extensions from Wau to Juba. There are also plans to link Juba with the Kenyan and Ugan- dan railway networks.

Air: The busiest and most developed airport in South Sudan is Juba Airport, which has regular international connections to AsmaraEntebbeNairobiCairoAddis Ababa, and Khartoum. Juba Airport was also the home base of Feeder Airlines Company and Southern Star Airlines.

Other international airports include Malakal, with international flights to Addis Ababa and Khartoum; Wau, with weekly service to Khartoum; and Rumbek, also with weekly flights to Khartoum. Southern Sudan Airlines also serves Nimule and Akobo, which have unpaved runways. Several smaller airports exist throughout South Sudan, the majority consisting of little more than dirt runways.

Water crisis

The water supply in South Sudan is faced with numerous challenges. Although the White Nile runs through the country, water is scarce during the dry season in areas that are not located on the river. About half the population does not have access to an improved water source, defined as a protected well, standpipe or a hand pump within one kilometer. The few existing piped water supply systems are often not well maintained and the water they provide is often not safe to drink.


Displaced people returning home put a huge strain on infrastructure, and the government institutions in charge of the sector are weak. Substantial external funding from numerous government agencies and non-governmental organizations is available to improve water supply. Numerous non-governmental organizations support water supply in Southern Sudan, such as Water is BasicWater for South Sudan, the Obakki Foundation and Bridgton-Lake Region Rotary Club  from North America.

Military, foreign relations

A Defense paper was initiated in 2007 by then Minister for SPLA Affairs Dominic Dim Deng, and a draft was produced in 2008. It declared that Southern Sudan would eventually maintain land, air, and riverine forces. As of 2015, South Sudan had the third highest military spending as a percentage of GDP in the world, behind Oman and Saudi Arabia.

South Sudan is a member state of the United Nations, the African Union, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. It was admitted to UNESCO and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional grouping of East African states in November 2011. The US supported the 2011 referendum on South Sudan's independence. The New York Times reported that "South Sudan is in many ways an American creation, carved out of war-torn Sudan in a referendum largely orchestrated by the US, its fragile institutions nurtured with billions of dollars in American aid."


The US government's long-standing sanctions against Sudan were officially removed from applicability to newly independent South Sudan in December 2011, and senior RSS officials participated in a high-level international engagement conference in Washington, D.C., to help connect foreign investors with the South Sudan government and private sector representatives. Given the interdependence between some sectors of the economy of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, certain activities still require OFAC authorization. Absent a license, current Sudanese sanction regulations will continue to prohibit US business representatives from dealing in property and interests that benefit Sudan or the government.

Demographics, population

The current population of South Sudan is 11.4 million as of 2022, based on World-o-meter elaboration of the latest United Nations data. The nation has a predominantly rural, subsistence economy. The region has been negatively affected by war since 1956, resulting in serious neglect, lack of infrastructure development, and major destruction and displacement. More than 2 million people have died, and more than 4 million are internally displaced persons or became refugees as a result of the civil war and its impact.

The South Sudanese diaspora is comprised of South Sudanese residing abroad. The number outside South Sudan has sharply increased since the beginning of the struggle for independence from the Republic of Sudan. Nearly 1.5 million South Sudanese are estimated to have left the country as refugees, either permanently or as temporary workforce, leading to the establishment of the South Sudanese diaspora. The largest communities of South Sudanese are located in North America, Western Europe, and Oceania in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and small communities in France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, and New Zealand.

Ethnic groups

The major ethnic groups present in South Sudan are the Dinka at more than one million (approximately 15 percent combined), the Nuer (approximately five percent), the Bari, and the Azande. The Shilluk constitute a historically influential state along the White Nile, and their language is fairly closely related to Dinka and Nuer. The traditional territories of the Shilluk and the Northeastern Dinka are adjacent. Currently, roughly 800,000 expatriates from the Horn of Africa are living in South Sudan.


Unlike the previous educational system of the regional Southern Sudan—which was modeled after the system used in the Republic of Sudan since 1990—the current educational system of South Sudan follows a system similar to Kenya, where primary education is eight years, followed by four years of secondary education, and then four years of university instruction.

The primary language at all levels is English, as compared to the Republic of Sudan, where the language of instruction is Arabic. In 2007 South Sudan adopted English as the official language of communication. There is a severe shortage of English teachers and English-speaking teachers, however, in the scientific and technical fields.

In October 2019, The South Sudan Library Foundation opened South Sudan's first public library, the Juba Public Peace Library in Gudele. The library currently employs a staff of over 40 volunteers and maintains a collection of over 13,000 books. The South Sudan Library Foundation was co-founded by Yawusa Kintha and Kevin Lenahan.


The official language of South Sudan is English. The government deleted Arabic as an official language and selec- ted English as the snation’s official language. There are over 60 indigenous languages, most classified under the Nilo-Saharan Language family. Collectively, they represent two of the first-order divisions of Nile Sudanic and Cen- tral Sudanic. The new transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan declares that "[a]ll indigenous lang- uages of South Sudan are national languages and shall be respected, developed and promoted." (Part 1, Chapter 1, No. 6 (1); Part 1, Chapter 1, No. 6 (2), it is defines thusly: "English shall be the official working language in the Republic of South Sudan.

In the capital, Juba, there are several thousand people who use non-classical Arabic, usually a pidgin called Juba Arabic, but the government ruled that Swahili would be introduced in South Sudan to supplant Arabic as a lingua franca, in keeping with the country's intention of orientation to the East African Community rather than Sudan and the Arab League


Religions followed by the South Sudanese include traditional indigenous religionsChristianity, and Islam. In 1956,  a majority of Sudanese were classified as following traditional beliefs or were Christian. According to a 2012 International Religious Freedom Report by the US Department of State, a majority of southern Sudanese maintain traditional indigenous beliefs—often referred to as animist beliefs, with those following Christianity in the minority.


Due to years of civil war, South Sudan's culture is heavily influenced by its neighbors. Many South Sudanese fled to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda where they interacted with the nationals and learned their languages and culture. For  those who remained in the country or went north to Sudan and Egypt, they largely assimilated Arab culture.


Many music artists from South Sudan use English, Swahili, Juba Arabic, their African language or a mix of all. Pop- ular Afro-beatR&B, reggae, hip hop, and folk artists include Barbz, Yaba Angelosi, and De Peace Child, Zouk, Dynamq, Emmanuel Kembe, Flizzame, and Emmanuel Jal. A former child soldier-turned musician, Jal has been accorded much acclaim on the talk radio circuit.

Games and sports

Many traditional and modern games and sports are popular in South Sudan, particularly wrestling and mock battles. The traditional sports were mainly played after the harvest seasons to celebrate the harvests and finish the farming seasons. During the matches, they smeared themselves with ochre—perhaps to enhance the grip or heighten their perception. The matches attracted large numbers of spectators who sang, played drums and danced in support of their favorite wrestlers. Though these were perceived as competition, they were primarily for entertainment.

Association football is also becoming popular in South Sudan, and there are many initiatives by the Government of South Sudan and other partners to promote the sport and improve the level of play. One of these initiatives is South Sudan Youth Sports Association (SSYSA). SSYSA is already holding football clinics in Konyokonyo and Muniki areas of Juba in which young boys are coached. In recognition of these efforts with youth football, the country recently hosted the CECAFA youth football competitions.

The South Sudan national association football team joined the Confederation of African Football in February 2012 and became a full FIFA member in May 2012. The team played its first match against Tusker FC of the Kenyan Premier League on 10 July 2011 in Juba as part of independence celebrations. 

The South Sudanese can boast links to top basketball players. Luol Deng was a NBA star in the US. Other leading international basketball players from South Sudan include Manute BolKueth DuanyDeng GaiAter Majok,  Wenyen Gabriel, and Thon Maker. The South Sudan national basketball team played its first match against the Uganda national basketball team on 10 July 2011 in Juba.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. / Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License