Country Profiles:
South Sudan

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.

Two civil wars plagued South Sudan, the first beginning in 1955 and the second in 1983 - both of which lasted nearly 20 years.

As with many newly independent nations, South Sudan is still in the recovery and rebuilding stage. Salva Kiir Mayardit became president of South Sudan – then still part of Sudan – and head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in 2005, succeeding long-time rebel leader John Garang, who died in a helicopter crash. Mr. Kiir was re-elected as president in multiparty polls in the south in April 2010. In July 2011, when South Sudan became independent, he became president of the new state. Just two years later, however, the country was engulfed by civil war when Mr. Kiir sacked his entire cabinet and accused Vice-President Riek Machar of instigating a failed coup. Government and rebels agreed to attend peace talks in Ethiopia in 2014, and a deal was finally signed under threat of UN sanctions for both sides in August 2015. Mr. Machar returned from exile to be sworn in as first vice president of a new unity government in April 2016, but was sacked a few months later after renewed conflict. Rebel leader Riek Machar briefly reassumed his old job as first vice president in 2016.

One of the major natural features of South Sudan is the River Nile whose many tributaries have sources in the country. The forests of South Sudan yield hardwood timber, such as mahogany and sant (a type of acacia), and softwoods. Gum Arabic (in South Sudan it is called gum Africa), a water-soluble gum obtained from acacia trees and used in the production of adhesives, candy, and pharmaceuticals, is an important agricultural export. The Nile Rivers are the main source of fish, especially Nile perch. Most of the catch is consumed locally. The region also contains many natural resources such as petroleum, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, and hydropower. The country’s economy, as in many other developing countries, is heavily dependent on agriculture. Some of the agricultural produce includes cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), sorghum, millet, wheat, gum Arabic, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), mangoes, papaya, bananas, sweet potatoes, and sesame. 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. Prior to independence, South Sudan produced 85% of Sudanese oil output. The oil revenues according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) were to be split equally for the duration of the agreement period. Since South Sudan relies on pipelines, refineries, and port facilities in Red Sea state in North Sudan, the agreement stated that the government in Khartoum would receive 50% share of all oil revenues. According to the southern government’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and this has amounted to more than $8 billion in revenue since the signing of the peace agreement.

It is home to over 60 different major ethnic groups, and the majority of its people follow traditional religions.  The largest ethnic group is the Dinka, who constitute about two-fifths of the population, followed by the Nuer, who constitute about one-fifth. Other groups include the Zande, the Bari, the Shilluk, and the Anywa (Anwak).  With Nilotic peoples forming the majority of its population, the nation is also referred to as the Nilotic Republic, as a homeland and supposedly the place of origin for the Nilotic race. Both Arabic and English were official working languages, although English had been acknowledged as the principal language.

According to the Sudanese embassy, Sudan’s cuisine is a culture of a civilization is based upon its accumulating heritage.

The dietary habits of people show an aspect of this civilization’s culture. Sudanese cuisine is as diverse as its geography and cultures. Central Sudan is perhaps the region that is the most diversified and colorful in its cuisine and dietary habits. This is due to its being a melting pot for the different Sudanese cultures and peoples, and to its exposure to external influences, like the effect of the British domination during the Condominium period. As for the south, the abundance of rivers, lakes and swamps had made the people in these regions dependent on fish for their food. A popular dish is a stew named (Kajaik), which is cooked of dried fish. It is added to the porridge, which common throughout Sudan, (Aseeda) is made of sorghum. Sometimes natural margarine is added to the mixture. or a sweet Sudanese dessert, try sweetened semolina, which is particularly common in the south, Sweetened semolina (kuindiong), Ful Medames Sudanese Fava Beans, Swala African Okra Soup with Kombo, Fenugreek porridge – medeeda hilba, Mahshi, stuffed zucchini and bell peppers, Kahk Egyptian Cookies.

South Sudan has a rich tradition of folk music that reflects the diverse cultures of the region. For example, folk music of the Dinka people includes poetry, while the Azande are known, apart from the many other traditions and beliefs, for storytelling that often features a figure of a good wizard. South Sudanese music draws on sub-Saharan rhythms – often six-beat, three-against-two patterns – and modal or pentatonic melodies, along with the gleaming lines of Congolese-style electric guitars. Vocal styles arrived from two directions, namely Arabic-style glides and quavers, echoed by the strings, or African leaps and exhortations, according to music Africa.

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