South Sudan, also called Southern Sudan, is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa that gained its independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011. This is the culmination of a six-year process that ended a long, brutal civil war that caused the deaths of millions. South Sudan is bordered by 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. Its rich biodiversity includes lush savannas, swamplands, and rainforests that are home to many species of wildlife. Prior to 2011, South Sudan was part of Sudan, its neighbor to the north. South Sudan’s population, predominantly African cultures who tend to adhere to Christian or animist beliefs, was long at odds with Sudan’s largely Muslim and Arab northern government. South Sudan’s capital is Juba. Sudan was once Africa’s largest country.
Egypt invaded in 1821, and made an attempt to construct forts in the region; disease and defection prompted a hasty abandonment of this project, however. Isma’il Pasha, of Egypt, established the province of Equatoria in present-day South Sudan, with plans to colonize the area, and hired British explorer Samuel Baker to govern. An attempt by Britain to unify North and South Sudan fell through in 1947, and military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since Sudanese independence from the UK in 1956.