After winning its independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan became the latest sovereign country in the world. Just as young as the country’s age is its population, with half of its 12 million citizens being just under 18 years of age.
South Sudan Facts
1. South Sudan has been occupied by its ancient peoples since the 10th century.
Following the fall of Nubia in the 10th century, the Nilotic people of Africa migrated to the area that is now South Sudan. As time progressed, they were able to settle in their current lands. Equatoria became the home of the Bari and Acholi while the Dinka, Anyuak, Shilluk and Nuer people went to Bahr El Ghazal and the Upper Nile Regions.
2. It started as the colony of Equatoria.
In 1870, Samuel Baker, a British explorer, colonized Equatoria – which is now mostly modern-day South Sudan. It stood alone for the longest time before it was combined with Sudan through the 1947 Juba conference. Just as history repeats itself, South Sudan re-separated itself from Sudan in 2011, an interesting South Sudan fact.
3. Its colorful flag bears deep meaning.
The flag of South Sudan is characterized by the stripes of black, red, and green, flanked with a blue triangle with a golden star inside it.
An interesting fact about South Sudan is that the black stripe represents the people of South Sudan, while the red color demonstrates the blood that was spilled to help achieve the country’s independence. The green shade, on the other hand, symbolizes the lush lands of the country. The blue triangle denotes the Nile River, while the golden star equates to the states that have united for South Sudan.
4. South Sudan’s official language is English.
South Sudan’s colonial roots influenced them so much so that their official language is English. The spread of the language can be attributed to Christian evangelists, who managed to convert most of the population.
While the majority of the population speaks English, as much as 60 dialects – known as the Nilo-Saharan languages – are used in the country as well.
5. Christianity is the country’s major religion.
As was mentioned, evangelists helped spread Christianity to most of South Sudan – making most of the country converted Christians. According to the Pew Research Center, almost 61% of the people belong to the Catholic, Episcopal, and Presbyterian denominations. About 33% of the citizens follow indigenous African religions while more than 6% of the people practice the Muslim faith.
6. It is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet.
South Sudan is home to the Bandingilo National Park, the world’s second-biggest location for wildlife migration, a fun South Sudan fact. It plays host to a variety of animals, such as giraffes, elephants, buffalo, hartebeests, and kopis, to name a few. South Sudan’s forests, on the other hand, serve as the habitat of giant forest hogs, bongo, red river hogs, chimpanzees, and forest monkeys.
7. Oil plays a huge role in the South Sudanese economy.
As the owner of the third-largest oil reserve in Africa, South Sudan’s oilfields have played a big role in the economy of the country. It has 4 times more oil than Sudan, with that accounting for a revenue of as much as $8 billion.
Due to issues with Sudan, South Sudan decided to halt oil production in 2012. This led to a loss of potential revenue, affecting food prices and spiking them up by as much as 120%. All of that is about to change, as the country is still teeming with lands profitable for oil production. With such interest in mind, China has decided to invest in the country’s reserves.
8. It finally gained independence in 2011.
South Sudan’s secession was a long time coming. When Sudan gained independence from Britain in 1956, the southerners expected to participate in the political system. This opportunity, however, was not granted to them by the Arab Khartoum system. As a result, they mutinied from 1955 to 1972 and from 1983 to 2005.
To quell the fire, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was drafted. It gave South Sudan autonomy for 6 years. Following this was the country’s independence in January 2011, after more than 98% of the population voted for separation from Sudan. An interesting fact about South Sudan is that this act made the country the 54th independent nation in Africa and the youngest member of the United Nations.
9. South Sudan has been involved in civil war since 2013.
Two years after its independence, the country found itself in another conflict: the South Sudanese Civil War. It started when President Salva Kiir Mayardit accused Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, his deputy, and 10 other people, of a failed coup d’etat. As a result, Dhurgon fled to the defense of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – in opposition, a group that ended up fighting the original Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. This turn of events helped start the war – one that has been going on until now.
10. South Sudan has some of the worst indices when it comes to health.
Due to poverty and ongoing warfare, South Sudan’s health indicators are heralded as some of the worst in the world, a crazy fact about South Sudan. An average of 153 in 1000 infants die in the country, while as much as 2,054 women out of 100,000 die due to childbirth and related complications.
These depressing rates are attributed to the country’s poor state of healthcare. Recent reports show that there are only three surgeons and three functioning hospitals in the country. In far-flung areas, the ratio can be a dismal 1 doctor per 500,000 people.
11. The country has bad social scores as well.
Many agencies rank countries according to happiness and global peace, among many other barometers. Sadly for South Sudan, it is almost always at the bottom (if not near the bottom) of the list. In 2019, the United Nations World Happiness Report ranked it as the lowest state. That same year, it was listed second to the last in the Global Peace Index list.
With its ongoing civil war and the substandard state of healthcare, South Sudan remains to be one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite its limitations, it continues to be a generous nation – playing home to as much as 200,000 refugees who were displaced by ethnic tensions and wars.
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