total: 644,329 sq km
Total: 6,018 km
border countries (6):
The central African Republic 1,055 km,
The Democratic Republic of the Congo 714 km,
Ethiopia 1,299 km,
Kenya 317 km,
Sudan 2,158 km,
Uganda 475 km
Coastline: 0 km
Total: 6,018 km
hot with seasonal rainfall influenced by the annual shift of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone;
rainfall heaviest in upland areas of the south and diminishes to the north
plains in the north and center rise to the southern highlands along the border with Uganda and Kenya;
The Sudd is a large swampy area of more than 100,000 sq km fed by the waters of the White Nile that dominates the center of the country
mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: White Nile 381 m
highest point: Kinyeti 3,187 m
petroleum, natural gas, timber, gold, bauxite, diamonds, tantalum, sand and gravel, clay
agricultural land: 100%
arable land 0%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 100%
1,000 sq km (2012)
Population – distribution:
clusters found in urban areas, particularly in the western interior and around the White Nile
People and Society
South Sudan has a population of approximately 12 million (UN estimate, the exact figure is disputed) and a predominantly rural, subsistence economy. This region has been negatively affected by war for all but 10 of the years 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. more than 80% of the populace lives in rural areas. The maternal mortality rate is among the world’s highest for a variety of reasons, including a shortage of health care workers, facilities, and supplies; poor roads and a lack of transport; and cultural beliefs that prevent women from seeking obstetric care.
Most women marry and start having children early, giving birth at home with the assistance of traditional birth attendants, who are unable to handle complications. Educational attainment is extremely poor due to the lack of schools, qualified teachers, and materials. Less than a third of the population is literate (the rate is even lower among women), and half live below the poverty line. Teachers and students are also struggling with the switch from Arabic to English as the language of instruction. Many adults missed out on schooling because of warfare and displacement.
Almost 2 million South Sudanese have sought refuge in neighboring countries since the current conflict began in December 2013. Another 1.96 million South Sudanese are internally displaced as of August 2017. Despite South Sudan’s instability and lack of infrastructure and social services, more than 240,000 people have fled to South Sudan to escape fighting in Sudan.
13,026,129 (July 2017 est.)
Dinka 35.8%, Nuer 15.6%, Shilluk, Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona, Acholi, Baka, Fertit (2011 est.)
English (official), Arabic (includes Juba and Sudanese variants), regional languages include Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande, Shilluk
Ethnicity, Language, and Religion
South Sudan’s people can be generally classified by whichever language their culture speaks. Two branches of the Nilo-Saharan language family – Northern Nilotic and Eastern Nilotic – are represented in South Sudan. The vast majority of ethnic groups speak these dialects. One group – the Azande – is unique because it is the only ethnic group that belongs to the Niger-Congo language family. About 36% of South Sudanese are Dinka, and about 16% are Nuer. The rest of South Sudan’s population belongs to the Shilluk, Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Murle, Mandari, or other ethnic groups.
The Dinka form the largest ethnic group in South Sudan. In general, it is also the group that enjoys the most economic and political power. South Sudan’s first President – Salva Kiir – is of Dinka heritage. The Nuer live in the northeastern part of the country, as well as in neighboring Ethiopia. The conflict between Nuer and Dinka is historic and based on the groups’ proximity to one another. The Nuer are also traditional cattle herders and came into conflict with the Dinka over land. The Nuer and Dinka (as well as other groups) frequently attack each other and take cattle – as has been the case since the 1800s, when the Nuer first expanded into territory controlled by the Dinka. Pastoralists like the Nuer and Dinka, the Shilluk are unique because they trace their ancestry to their own independent kingdom. They live in an area formerly ruled by the Shilluk Kingdom, which is now part of South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. Their region is also home to Dinka and Nuer groups, but the Shilluk live mostly along the Nile.
For years, the official languages were Spanish and French. Portuguese was also adopted as an official language later in 2010. Spanish has been an official language since 1844. It is still the language of education and administration. 67.6% of Equatorial Guineans can speak it, especially those living in the capital, Malabo. Each ethnic group speaks its own language; among the most prominent of these languages are Fang and Bubi. The official languages of the country, however, are Spanish and French. Spanish is taught in schools and used by the press; it is the primary means of communication common to both Bioko and the mainland. As a result of Equatorial Guinea’s closer economic association with Francophone countries begun in 1983, French became a compulsory subject in schools in 1988 and an official language in 1997. In addition, an English-based creole is used extensively in petty commerce and forms the lingua franca on Bioko, and a Portuguese patois is spoken on both Bioko and Annobón.
Although African traditional religion has left its vestiges among the indigenous tribes, about 93% of the population are Christian. Within the Christian population, 87% are Roman Catholic and about 4.5% are mainline Protestant, primarily Baptist and Episcopalian. Though there is no state religion, a 1992 law established an official preference for the Catholic Church and the Reform Church of Equatorial Guinea, based on the traditional importance of these two denominations in popular culture. Other religious groups must register through the Ministry of Justice and Worship. Religious study (primarily Catholic) is required in public schools.
The most important linguistic grouping in South Sudan is that of the Nilotes, who speak various languages of the Eastern Sudanic subbranch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. Chief among the Nilotic peoples are the Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Bari, and Anyway. The Zande and many other smaller ethnic groups speak various languages belonging to the Adamawa-Ubangi branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages. Arabic, a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family, is spoken by the country’s small Arab population and by others.
Christians, primarily Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian, account for about three-fifths of South Sudan’s population. Christianity is a result of European missionary efforts that began in the second half of the 19th century. The remainder of the population is a mix of Muslims and those who follow traditional animist religions, the latter outnumbering the former. Although the animists share some common elements of religious belief, each ethnic group has its own indigenous religion. Virtually all of South Sudan’s traditional African religions share the conception of a high spirit or divinity, usually a creator god. There exist two conceptions of the universe: the earthly and the heavenly, or the visible and the invisible.
When South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, hopes were high that the world’s newest country could finally be free of decades of violence that had afflicted the region. Instead, a civil war broke out two years later, killing thousands and displacing more than 2 million people. With a population of 13 million, South Sudan has a higher proportion of children out of school than any other place in the world. More than half of the country’s primary and lower secondary school-age children, up to age 15, are not attending school, according to UNICEF.
February marked the beginning of the country’s school year, and already there are signs more students are being kept from classrooms. Many schools have either been closed by the government or occupied and damaged by internally displaced people or armed groups. More than 800 schools were destroyed between December 2013 and August 2015, when the latest peace deal was signed. More than 6,000 schools remain operable, but they all lack resources. In South Sudan, only 27 percent of adults can read. In many cases, teachers aren’t much older than their students. Nguyen said about 37 percent of teachers have actual teaching certification. An equal percentage have only attained the equivalent of an 8th-grade education. The rest have either unchecked or unconfirmed teaching qualifications.
Under South Sudan’s current system, there are two general educational tracks. The formal track includes eight years of primary education, beginning at six years of age, followed by four years of secondary education and then postsecondary training or four years of tertiary education. This track includes a provision for three years of pre-primary schooling, but the implementation of this option has been slow. Higher education in South Sudan is provided by several institutions, including the University of Juba (1977) in the capital, the University of Bahr el Ghazal (1991) in Wau, and Upper Nile University (1991) in Malakal.
The renewed conflicts in December 2013 and July 2016 have undermined the development gains achieved since independence and worsened the humanitarian situation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, more than 4.2 million people have been displaced both internally and to neighboring countries, and about 5.3 million (nearly half the population) face severe food insecurity. Without conflict resolution and a framework for peace and security, the country’s longer-term development and prosperity are threatened.
South Sudan is the most oil-dependent country in the world, with oil accounting for almost the totality of exports, and around 60% of its gross domestic product (GDP). On current reserve estimates, oil production is expected to reduce steadily in future years and to become negligible by 2035. The country’s growth domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2014 was $1,111 dropping to less than $200 in 2017. Outside the oil sector, livelihoods are concentrated in low productivity, unpaid agriculture and pastoralists work
South Sudan’s economic collapse continues in FY17 (July 2017/June 2018), with output contracting, and inflation and parallel exchange market premium soaring. The economy is estimated to have contracted by about 6.9% in FY17 due to the ongoing conflict, oil production disruptions and below-average agriculture production. Declining oil production has put additional pressure on an economy already weakened by the 2012 oil export shutdown (linked to a dispute with Sudan about transit fees) and the civil war.
The monetization of the fiscal deficit accelerated inflation from 187% in June 2016 to 550% September 2016 before declining to 362%in June 2017. As the pace of money printing slowed in recent months, inflation decelerated to 118% during December 2016–December 2017. Driven by foreign exchange shortages, the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) continued its depreciation on both the official and the parallel market. Since the move from a fixed exchange rate arrangement to a managed float in 2016, the SSP has depreciated by 90% (by end-December 2017) with ongoing pressure as evidenced by the continued spread between the official and parallel market exchange rates.
The fiscal deficit is estimated at about 4.6%of GDP in FY17 due to falling government revenues and rising security-related spending. Expenditures are skewed toward defense at the expense of poverty reduction. Security and accountability/public administration and rule of law spending have accounted for over 70%of the total budget over the past three fiscal years. By contrast, combined expenditures on health and education are expected to make up around 6%of total government spending.
The first challenge is restoring peace and security through the cessation of hostilities and implementation of governance and security arrangements that serve the interests of the nation’s people. The is an urgent need for the government to implement comprehensive macroeconomic reforms to unify the official and parallel exchange markets and reduce inflation, as well as longer-term action to boost employment, build infrastructure, and diversify the economy, with special emphasis on agriculture development. Without the government’s real commitment and proactive action to end the conflict and stabilize the economy, it is premature to envisage a post-conflict path for the economy.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$11.07 billion (2017 est.)
$12.37 billion (2016 est.)
$13.28 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$2.915 billion (2017 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
-10.5% (2017 est.)
-6.9% (2016 est.)
-12.8% (2015 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$600 (2017 est.)
$700 (2016 est.)
$800 (2015 est.)
Gross national saving:
9.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
20% of GDP (2016 est.)
7.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
Agriculture – products:
sorghum, maize, rice, millet, wheat, gum arabic, sugarcane, mangoes, papayas, bananas, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, cotton, sesame seeds, cassava (manioc, tapioca), beans, peanuts; cattle, sheep
Population below poverty line:
66% (2015 est.)
revenues: $259.6 million
expenditures: $298.6 million (FY2017/18 est.)
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of South Sudan. Estimates on value added by agriculture, forestry, and fisheries accounted for 36% of non-oil GDP in 2010. It is evident that about 80% of the population lives in rural areas, with agriculture, forestry, and fisheries providing the primary livelihood for a majority of the households in each state. Much of the rural sector activity is currently focused on low-input low-output subsistence agriculture instead of production for markets.
- Among the significant reasons for this are:
(i) the need for improved agricultural inputs and techniques such as seeds and fertilizers, storage facilities and advisory services, and irrigation development;
(ii) the difficulties faced by farmers in accessing markets due to the poor road network, lack of other transport modes and nuisance taxes and charges, including bribes;
(iii) the lack of a critical mass of farmer and rural producer associations as a means of entering the marketplace with the aim of minimizing the cost of inputs, accessing loan finance at affordable rates and influencing farm-gate prices; and
(iv) uncertainties pertaining to property rights and access to land.
While the country produces and consumes a wide range of agricultural commodities, with the passage of time some commodities have become prominent in the national pattern of consumption. Cereals, primarily sorghum and maize, millet and rice are the dominant staple crops in South Sudan. More than 75% of rural households consume cereals. At the state level, the percentage ranges from a low of 28% in Upper Nile state to 62% in Western Bahr el Ghazal and to as much as 95% in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. For the country as a whole, cereal consumption accounts for about 48% of total basic food consumption in term of value. Livestock accounts for approximately 30%, fish 4%, roots 2%, seeds about 3.8% and other non-cereal crops combined, 12.7%.
Sorghum is the main crop cultivated with a wide range of local landraces. It is the main staple food in all states, except for the three Equatoria where the local diet is also based on maize fl our (largely imported from Uganda) and cassava (mainly in the Green Belt). Livestock provides the main source of livelihood for a substantial portion of the population, with herds (mostly cattle) concentrated primarily in western parts of Upper Nile state, and in East Equatoria, Jonglei, and Bahr ElGhazal states. Livestock is raised by nomads and seminomads and is entirely dependent on access to grazing land and watering points.
population without electricity: 11,200,000
electrification – total population: 1%
electrification – urban areas: 4%
electrification – rural areas: 0% (2013)
Electricity – production:
310.3 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – consumption:
0 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – exports:
0 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – imports:
0 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – installed generating capacity:
80,000 kW (2015 est.)
Electricity – from fossil fuels:
100% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity – from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Telephones – fixed lines:
total subscriptions: 0 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 220
Telephones – mobile cellular:
total: 2.7 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21 (July 2016 est.)
Internet country code:
Industry and Mining
Petroleum is by far South Sudan’s most important natural resource. Oil was first discovered in the southwestern Sudan (now part of South Sudan) in 1977, and a commercially viable find was made in 1980. The long-running civil war prevented any exploitation of the oil deposits, however, until the end of the 20th century. Although the vast majority of these oil reserves are now in South Sudan, the necessary infrastructure for transporting the oil goes through Sudan, its neighbor to the north. Other known resources include marble, mica, and uranium.
At independence, its oil was identified as its most important source of income. It was hoped that it that could help fund the country’s development and future prosperity. Yet much of this hope has now evaporated. The country is wracked by civil conflict and boasts some of the world’s worst humanitarian indicators on record. More than half of school-age children have never set foot in a classroom. The government, with support from donor bodies and NGOs like Global Witness, has passed key legislation to govern the oil sector. But it has yet to be properly implemented. There is little evidence that oil revenue is reaching those who need it most and the industry is shrouded in secrecy.
Oil is also a key driver of the devastating conflict. The oil fields have become a key strategic target for the rebels. Battles to control them have displaced communities and destroyed existing infrastructure. The citizens of South Sudan have lived through an almost uninterrupted civil war for decades. As a result, they are some of the poorest on earth. The current conflict has displaced 1.9 million people – or 1 in 5 of the population. Despite the huge government income generated from oil, most of the revenue is being spent on the military, the war effort and serving debts owed to oil companies. Just five percent of the latest budget [2013/14] was used on health care, education and infrastructure combined.
Global Witness investigates the oil sector in South Sudan to expose the links between corruption, conflict, and oil. We campaign to ensure the country’s oil wealth benefits its citizens. The government must urgently secure a meaningful peace deal and halt the issuing of new oil contracts until law and order have been restored.
Banking and Finance
After independence in 2011, the Bank of Southern Sudan began to operate as the central bank for South Sudan with a mandate to monitor policy and price stability, and ensure a stable exchange rate. However, the country still has to rely on its neighbors such as Kenya and Uganda for its external financial transactions such as money transfers. The current situation for the banking sector is quite limited with minimal geographic coverage for banks and a weak regulatory framework and limited management capacity and expertise.
There are a small number of commercial banks in the country – the majority of which are owned by banks in Kenya and Uganda. The services provided by the banks are limited to foreign exchange transactions for remittances and bank transfers. The provision of the loan, finance, and savings transactions are limited. Complaints by customers in the online and printed media are rampant regarding the quality of service and high transaction charges. The sentiments in the country regarding the Kenya and Uganda owned banks are very negative with charges of exploitation leveled at the banks.
To date, very little data is available regarding the state of the Bank of South Sudan and the health of the financial system is in doubt especially after the collapse of the oil-exporting sector earlier this year. Prior to the shutdown of the pipeline, oil accounted for 98% of the economy and provided the foreign currency needed for imports. The situation is perilous for a nation that imports almost all of its consumption and the lack of foreign currency drove inflation up over 60% in July this year. After trading 3.5 to a dollar in January, the South Sudan Pound dropped to 5 last month and is trading at about 4.4 after the Qatar National Bank stepped in with a $100 million to fund imports in September.
Regardless of the economic situation, it is imperative that South Sudan focuses on developing a solid, reliable, and transparent banking system offering expanded services such as a loan, finance, and savings transactions. It may behoove South Sudan to work with Sudan to take advantage of the Sudan expertise in banking and their shared economic interests until the South develops its own indigenous talent to manage the financial sector. Without a financial system, operating under a strong regularity framework the entire future economic development of the nations will be in question.
Coming into existence in 2011 on 9th July, South Sudan has struggled to keep up with the lucrative tourism and travel industry, due to its natural capability to fit into this industry. Although the country might seem so young, this doesn’t rule out the plenty it offers in terms of tourist attraction. South Sudan holds one of the extensive grasslands, swamps, lakes, and rivers. All these natural features contribute a lot to the natural beauty of this amazing country located in East Africa northern region. It holds one of the antic wildlife features that rival other countries in the eastern part of Africa. South Sudan is actually the home of the greatest and largest migration routes of animals in the world.
The Central-East African country also holds some significant numbers of wild safari animals like elephants, lions, giraffes and many more others. Boma national park, Nimule, Bandigilo, Sudd and Southern national parks are some of the parks with thrilling wildlife experience that you can’t miss out. The cultural diversity displayed by several different communities creates a frontier that draws anyone close due to their social aspect. The dressing and some cultural activities performed by south Sudan people are captivating and wonderful as well.
Place of Attraction
Boma National Park; Environmentalists and naturalists have been arguing for years over weather Boma National Park is the home of the largest or the second-largest annual land mammal migration on the planet. Some say it’s the Serengeti and the movement of the countless wildebeest there, others – most notably the South Sudanese themselves! – claim the honor for this vast swathe of wilderness that clings to the edge of the Ethiopian border in the east.
Wau; It’s precisely because of Wau’s place at the confluence of several of South Sudan’s most populous tribal groups that this city is now embroiled in some of the bloodiest episodes of the current conflict engulfing the country. However, when that all subsidies, the hope is that this multicultural gem – the third largest town in the nation no less – will flower once again.
Southern National Park; Covering close to 7,800 square kilometers of land in the very heart of South Sudan, the seemingly endless swathes of patchwork woodlands and grassy savannah that form the Southern National Park are amongst the largest protected game areas in the nation.
Kidepo Game Reserve; The Kidepo Game Reserve is located in the southernmost depths of South Sudan. Contiguous with the famous Kidepo National Park in Uganda across the border, it’s a sea of greenery that extends for more than 1,200 square kilometers across the savannah grasslands and gallery woods of the region.
Bandingilo National Park; Another great place to come and witness the breathtaking phenomenon of the annual migration of the white-eared kob, Bandingilo National Park is the natural jewel of the Equatoria region.
Linguistic evidence shows that over time Nilotic speakers, such as the Dinka, Shilluk, and Luo, took over. These groups spread from the Sudd marshlands, where archaeological evidence shows that a culture based on transhumant cattle raising had been present since 3000 BCE, and the Nilotic culture in that area may thus be continuous to that date. Archaeological evidence, as well as the physical evidence in the livelihood of the Nilotes including their dome-shaped houses and tukuls, shows that they may have made an enormous contribution to the governance and wealth of the Nubia Kingdom before and during the 25th Dynasty.
In AD 61, a party of Roman soldiers sent by Emperor Nero proceeded up the White Nile but were not able to get beyond the Sudd, which marked the limit of Roman penetration into equatorial Africa. For the same reasons in later times the search for the source of the Nile was particularly difficult; it eventually involved overland expeditions from the central African coast, so as to avoid having to travel through the Sudd. For many years the swamp, and especially its thicket of vegetation, proved an impenetrable barrier to navigation along the Nile.
The Sudd is a vast swamp in South Sudan, formed by the White Nile’s Baḥr al-Jabal section. The Arabic word sudd is derived from Sudd, meaning “barrier” or “obstruction”. The term “the sudd” has come to refer to any large solid floating vegetation island or mat. The area which the swamp covers are one of the world’s largest wetlands and the largest freshwater wetland in the Nile basin. The Sudd stretches from Mongalla to just outside the Sobat confluence with the White Nile just upstream of Malakal as well as westwards along the Bahr el Ghazal. The shallow and flat inland delta lies between 5.5 and 9.5 degrees latitude North and covers an area of 500 kilometers (310 mi) south to north and 200 kilometers (120 mi) east to west between Mongalla in the south and Malakal in the north.
The Nilotic people
The Nilotic people of South Sudan—the Acholi, Anyuak, Bari, Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Kaligi (Arabic Feroghe), and others—first entered South Sudan sometime before the 10th century. The Shilluk and the Anuak are the closest related members of the Luo Nilotic groups, many of the words in the Shilluk language are made up of words from Dha anywaa or the Anuak language. Historically, the Shilluk were led by a king Reth who is considered to be from the divine lineage of the culture hero Nyikang, and whose health is believed to affect that of the nation. Formerly, their society was fairly hierarchical, with castes of royals, nobles, commoners, and slaves. Like most Nilotic groups, cattle-raising formed a large part of their economy; however, agriculture and fishing were more significant than usual, and most were sedentary. The Shilluk people created the Shilluk Kingdom which existed in Southern Sudan since (1454 to Present).
From the 15th to the 19th centuries, tribal migrations, largely from the area of Bahr el Ghazal, brought the Anyuak Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk to their modern locations of both Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile Regions, while the Acholi and Bari settled in Equatoria. The Azande, Mundu, Avukaya, and Baka, who entered South Sudan in the 16th century, established the region’s largest state of Equatorial Region.
The most powerful group among the Nilotic speakers were Shilluk, who spread east to the banks of the white Nile under the legendary leadership of Nyikang, who is said to have ruled the Shilluk c.1490 to c.1517. The Shilluk gained control of the west bank of the river as far north as Kosti in Sudan. There they established an economy based on cattle raising, cereal farming, and fishing, with small villages located along the length of the river. The Shilluk developed an intensive system of agriculture, and the Shilluk lands in the 17th century had a population density similar to that of the Egyptian Nile lands. One theory is that it was pressure from the Shilluk that drove the Funj people north, who would establish the Sultanate of Sennar. The Dinka remained in the Sudd area, maintaining their transhumance economy.
The Shilluk and Azande people
The Shilluk controlled the west bank of the White Nile, but the other side was controlled by the Funj Sultanate, and there was a regular conflict between the two. The Shilluk had the ability to quickly raid outside areas by war canoe and had control of the waters of the Nile. The Funj had a standing army of armored cavalry, and this force allowed them to dominated the plains of the Sahel. Shilluk traditions tell of King Odak Ocollo who ruled c. 1630 and led them in a three-decade war with Sennar over control of the White Nile trade routes. The Shilluk allied with the Sultanate of Darfur and the Kingdom of Takali against the Funj, but the capitulation of Takali ended the war in the Funj’s favor. In the later 17th century the Shilluk and Funj allied against the Jiang, a group of Dinka who rose to power in the border area between the Funj and Shilluk. The Shilluk political structure gradually centralized under a king or Reth.
The non-Nilotic Azande people, who entered southern Sudan in the 16th century, established the region’s largest state. The Azande are the third largest nationality in Southern Sudan. They are found in Maridi, Iba, Yambio, Nzara, Ezon, Tambura and Nagere Counties in the tropical rainforest belt of western Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal. In the 18th century, the Avungara people entered and quickly imposed their authority over the Azande. Avungara power remained largely unchallenged until the arrival of the British at the end of the 19th century.
Geographical barriers protected the southerners from Islam’s advance, enabling them to retain their social and cultural heritage and their political and religious institutions. The Dinka people were especially secure in the Sudd marshlands, which protected them from outside interference, and allowed them to remain secure without a large armed force. The Shilluk, Azande, and Bari people had more regular conflicts with neighboring states.
The Egyptian Conquest
In 1821 the Sennar Sultanate to the north collapsed in the face of an invasion by Egypt under the Muhammad Ali Dynasty. After consolidating their control over northern Sudan, the Egyptian forces began to foray south. In 1827 Ali Khurshid Pasha led a force through the Dinka lands and in 1830 led an expedition to the junction of the White Nile and the Sobat. The most successful missions were led by Admiral Salim Qabudan who between 1839 and 1842 sailed the White Nile, reaching as far south as modern Juba. The Egyptian forces attempted to set up forts and garrisons in the region, but disease and defection forced their quick abandonment. While claimed by the Khedives of Egypt, they had no real authority over the region. In 1851, under pressure from foreign powers, the government of Egypt opened the region to European merchants and missionaries
The lack of formal authority was filled in the 1850s by a set of powerful merchant princes. In the east Muhammad, Ahmad al-Aqqad controlled much land, but the most powerful was Al-Zubayr Rahma Mansur who came to control the Bahr el Ghazal and other parts of South Sudan. Al-Zubair was a merchant from Khartoum, who hired his own private army and marched south. He set up a network of trading forts known as zaribas through the region, and from these forts controlled local trade. The most valuable commodity was ivory. In previous centuries Sudanese merchants had not placed a high price on ivory, but the period of Egyptian rule coincided with a great increase in global demand as middle-class Americans and Europeans began to purchase pianos and billiard balls.
The Khedive of Egypt, Isma’il Pasha, was concerned over the growing power al-Zubayr, and established the province of Equatoria and planned to colonize the area. In 1878, Gordon was replaced by Emin Pasha (Eduard Schnitzer). The Mahdist Revolt did not spread south to the non-Muslim region, but cut off South Sudan from Egypt, leaving Emin Pasha isolated and without resources. He was rescued by the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition led by Henry Morton Stanley. Equatoria ceased to exist as an Egyptian outpost in 1889. Important settlements in Equatoria included Lado, Gondokoro, Dufile, and Wadelai. In 1947, British hopes to join the southern part of Sudan with Uganda were dashed by the Juba Conference, to unify northern and southern Sudan.
In 1899 the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium was declared, providing for Sudan to be administered jointly by Egypt and Great Britain, with a governor-general appointed by the Khedive of Egypt but nominated by the British government. In reality, however, there was no equal partnership between Britain and Egypt in Sudan, as the British dominated the condominium from the beginning. Their first order of business was to pacify the countryside and suppress local religious uprisings. The north was quickly pacified, and modern improvements were introduced under the aegis of civilian administrators, who began to replace the military as early as 1900. In the south, resistance to British rule was more prolonged; administration there was confined to keeping the peace rather than making any serious attempts at modernization.
Other than a revolt in 1924, led by a new generation of Western-educated Sudanese in the north, British rule in Sudan remained unchallenged until after World War II. By then the growth of national consciousness among the educated Sudanese elite had led to the creation of the Graduates’ General Congress, which eventually demanded recognition by the British to act as the spokesman for Sudanese nationalism. The request was refused, and the Congress then split into two groups: a moderate majority and a radical minority. By 1943 the minority had won control of the Congress and organized the first genuine political party in Sudan. The moderates then formed the Ummah (Nation) Party, with the intention of cooperating with the British toward independence.
British officials were well aware of the pervasive power of nationalism among the elite and sought to introduce new institutions to associate the Sudanese more closely with the task of governing. An advisory council was established for northern Sudan, but Sudanese nationalists soon began to agitate to transform the advisory council into a legislative one that would include southern Sudan. Previously, the British had facilitated their control of Sudan by segregating the south’s predominantly animist or Christian Africans from the north’s predominantly Muslim Arabs. A decision to establish a legislative council was seen as a way to force the British to abandon that policy, which they ultimately did, and southern participation in the legislative council was instituted in 1947. Arabic was mandated the official language, however. That action generated much discontent in southern Sudan, as English was long the primary language of education in the south, and using Arabic as the language of government severely limited the participation of southern Sudanese.
The referendum for Independence from Sudan
In 1955, four months before Sudan achieved independence, the First Sudanese Civil War started, with the aims of achieving representation and more regional autonomy. For seventeen years, the Sudanese government fought the Anyanya rebel army. In 1971, former Army Lt. Joseph Lagu gathered all the guerilla bands under his South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM). This was the first time in the history of the war that the separatist movement had a unified command structure to fulfill the objectives of secession and the formation of an independent state in South Sudan.
In 1983, President of Sudan Gaafar Nimeiry declared all Sudan an Islamic state under Shari’a law, including the non-Islamic majority southern region. The Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was abolished on 5 June 1983, ending the Addis Ababa Agreement. In direct response to this, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) was formed under the leadership of John Garang, and the Second Sudanese Civil War erupted. Several factions split from the SPLA often along ethnic lines and were funded and armed by Khartoum, with the most notable being the SPLA-Nasir in 1991 led by Riek Machar.
As a result of the infighting, more southerners died at each other’s hands than were killed by northerners during the war. In the Bor massacre of 1991, an estimated 2000 civilians were killed by SPLA-Nasir and armed Nuer civilians and another estimated 25,000 died from the resulting famine in the following years. This war lasted for twenty-two years (until 2005), becoming the longest civil war in Africa. In 2005, Comprehensive Peace Agreement, mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as well as IGAD-Partners, a consortium of donor countries, was signed in Nairobi and autonomous Government of Southern Sudan was formed. This agreement lasted until 2011 when South Sudan declared independence. At midnight on 9 July 2011, South Sudan became an independent country under the name Republic of South Sudan.
The Endless Civil war
Signs of growing dissension within the ruling party, the SPLM, were evident throughout 2013. Kiir dismissed his entire cabinet in late July and shortly thereafter unveiled his new cabinet, which was smaller. Riek Machar, who had served as Kiir’s vice president, was not retained. Meanwhile, Machar voiced his ambitions to challenge Kiir for SPLM leadership and to be the party’s presidential candidate in the country’s 2015 elections, as did Pagan Amum, another dismissed cabinet member also seen as a political rival of Kiir within the SPLM.
In December 2013, a political power struggle broke out between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, as the president accused Machar and ten others of attempting a coup d’état. Fighting broke out, igniting the South Sudanese Civil War. Ugandan troops were deployed to fight alongside South Sudanese government forces against the rebels. The United Nations has peacekeepers in the country as part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Numerous ceasefires were mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and SPLM – in opposition and were subsequently broken.
A peace agreement was signed in Ethiopia under threat of United Nations sanctions for both sides in August 2015. Machar returned to Juba in 2016 and was appointed vice president. Following the second breakout of violence in Juba, Machar was replaced as vice-president and he fled the country as the conflict erupted again. Once again another peace agreement signed between the president of South Sudan and his former vice president on June 27, 2018. Despite the agreement, signed in neighboring Sudan, many worry that a lasting resolution to the conflict is still a long way off. Peace deals signed by both leaders have fallen apart in the past, and the war now involves numerous smaller parties. Just two years ago, the pair struck a similar agreement that soon unraveled.