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South Sudan

South Sudan

South Sudan is a country in eastern Africa. It is bordered by Sudan to the north, Ethiopia to the east, Kenya, Uganda, and DRC to the south, and Central African Republic to the west.

Background History

Egypt attempted to colonize the region of southern Sudan by establishing the province of Equatoria in the 1870s. Islamic Mahdist revolutionaries overran the region in 1885, but in 1898 a British force was able to overthrow the Mahdist regime. An Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was established the following year with Equatoria being the southernmost of its eight provinces. The isolated region was largely left to itself over the following decades, but Christian missionaries converted much of the population and facilitated the spread of English. When Sudan gained its independence in 1956, it was with the understanding that the southerners would be able to participate fully in the political system. When the Arab Khartoum government reneged on its promises, a mutiny began that led to two prolonged periods of conflict (1955-1972 and 1983-2005) in which perhaps 2.5 million people died - mostly civilians - due to starvation and drought. Ongoing peace talks finally resulted in a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in January 2005. As part of this agreement the south was granted a six-year period of autonomy to be followed by a referendum on final status. The result of this referendum, held in January 2011, was a vote of 98% in favor of secession. Independence was attained on 9 July 2011. Since independence South Sudan has struggled with good governance and nation building and has attempted to control rebel militia groups operating in its territory. Economic conditions have deteriorated since January 2012 when the government decided to shut down oil production following bilateral disagreements with Sudan.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of South Sudan
  • conventional short form: South Sudan


  • name: Juba
  • geographic coordinates: 04 51 N 31 37 E
  • time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 9 July 2011 (from Sudan)

Government Type:

  • Republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Salva Kiir Mayardit (since 9 July 2011); Vice President James Wani Igga (since 23 August 2013)
  • head of government: President Salva Kiir Mayardit (since 9 July 2011); Vice President James Wani Igga (since 23 August 2013)
  • cabinet: National Council of Ministers; appointed by the president and approved by a resolution from the Legislative Assembly
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held on 11-15 April 2010 (the next election has been postponed from 2015 to 2017 or 2018 due to instability and violence)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: bicameral National Legislature consists of the National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, High Courts, County Courts


People & Society


  • 11,562,695 (global rank: 75)
  • growth rate: 4.12% (global rank: 3)


  • noun: South Sudanese
  • adjective: South Sudanese

Major Cities:

  • Juba (capital): 307,000 million

Ethnic Groups:

  • Dinka 35.8%, Nuer 15.6%, Shilluk, Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona, Acholi


  • animist, Christian


  • English (official), Arabic (includes Juba and Sudanese variants), regional languages include Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande, Shilluk

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 68.16 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 16)
  • male: 72.92 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 63.15 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 2.24% (2013 est.) (global rank: 26)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 27%
  • male: 40%
  • female: 16%



Overview: Following several decades of civil war with Sudan, industry and infrastructure in landlocked South Sudan are severely underdeveloped and poverty is widespread. Subsistence agriculture provides a living for the vast majority of the population. Property rights are insecure and price signals are weak, because markets are not well organized. South Sudan has little infrastructure - approximately 250 kilometers of paved roads. Electricity is produced mostly by costly diesel generators and indoor plumbing and potable water are scarce. South Sudan depends largely on imports of goods, services, and capital - mainly from Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. Nevertheless, South Sudan does have abundant natural resources. At independence in 2011, South Sudan produced nearly three-fourths of former Sudan's total oil output of nearly a half million barrels per day. The government of South Sudan derives nearly 98% of its budget revenues from oil. Oil is exported through two pipelines that run to refineries and shipping facilities at Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The economy of South Sudan will remain linked to Sudan for some time, given the long lead time and great expense required to build another pipeline, should the government decide to do so. In January 2012 South Sudan suspended production of oil because of its dispute with Sudan over transshipment fees. This suspension lasted fifteen months and had a devastating impact on GDP, which declined by 48% in 2012. With the resumption of oil flows the economy rebounded strongly during the second half of calendar year 2013. This occurred in spite of the fact that oil production, at an average level of 222,000 barrels per day, was 40% lower compared with 2011, prior to the shutdown. GDP is estimated to have grown by about 25% in 2014. However, the outbreak of conflict on December 15, 2013 combined with a further reduction of oil exports, means that GDP growth forecasts for 2014 are being revised downwards again, and poverty and food insecurity are rising. South Sudan holds one of the richest agricultural areas in Africa with fertile soils and abundant water supplies. Currently the region supports 10-20 million head of cattle. South Sudan is currently burdened by considerable debt, accrued largely in 2012, based on rapidly accumulating arrears, and increased military spending. South Sudan has received more than $4 billion in foreign aid since 2005, largely from the UK, the US, Norway, and the Netherlands. Following independence, South Sudan's central bank issued a new currency, the South Sudanese Pound, allowing a short grace period for turning in the old currency. Annual inflation peaked at 79.5% in May 2012 but declined rapidly thereafter, to 1.7% in 2013. Following the December 2013 outbreak of violence, inflation is on the rise again. Long-term challenges include diversifying the formal economy, alleviating poverty, maintaining macroeconomic stability, improving tax collection and financial management and improving the business environment.

 Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $23.31 billion (global rank: 139)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $2,000 (global rank: 202)
  • real growth rate: -12.3% (global rank: 220)


  • currency: South Sudanese pounds (SSP)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 0.7489


  • population below poverty line: 50.6%

Agricultural 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




  • East-Central Africa; south of Sudan, north of Uganda and Kenya, west of Ethiopia


  • total: 644,329 sq km (global rank: 42)
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Texas


  • hot with seasonal rainfall influenced by the annual shift of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone; rainfall is heaviest in the upland areas of the south and diminishes to the north

Natural Resources:

  • hydropower, fertile agricultural land, gold, diamonds, petroleum, hardwoods, limestone, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: South Sudan-Sudan boundary represents 1 January 1956 alignment, final alignment pending negotiations and demarcation; final sovereignty status of Abyei Area pending negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan; periodic violent skirmishes with South Sudanese residents over water and grazing rights persist among related pastoral populations along the border with the Central African Republic; the boundary that separates Kenya and South Sudan's sovereignty is unclear in the "Ilemi Triangle," which Kenya has administered since colonial times
  • refugees (country of origin): 235,667 (Sudan); 15,769 (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • internally displaced peoples: 1,520,300 (alleged coup attempt and ethnic conflict beginning in December 2013; information is lacking on those displaced in earlier years by: fighting in Abyei between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in May 2011; clashes between the SPLA and dissident militia groups in South Sudan; inter-ethnic conflicts over resources and cattle; attacks from the Lord's Resistance Army; floods and drought)
  • human trafficking: South Sudan is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; South Sudanese women and girls, particularly those who are internally displaced, orphaned, or from rural areas, are vulnerable to forced labor and sexual exploitation, often in urban centers; the rising number of street children and child laborers are also exploited for forced labor and prostitution; women and girls from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are trafficked to South Sudan with promises of legitimate jobs and are forced into the sex trade; inter-ethnic abductions continue between some communities in South Sudan, with abductees subsequently faced with domestic servitude, forced herding, or sex trafficking; government security forces and armed militia groups continue to recruit children

Published: Wednesday, April 29, 2015