Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Beginning a country is hard

South Sudan women on the road from Bentiu to Yida
South Sudan women on the road from Bentiu to Yida

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa's longest-running civil war. South Sudan independence did not bring the civil war conflict in South Sudan to an end that displaced 2.2 million people.

Beginning a country is hard

South Sudan self-descriptive name is from the country's former position within Sudan prior to independence; the name Sudan derives from the Arabic bilad-as-sudan meaning Land of the Black. South Sudan, since independence on July 9, 2011 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.

In December 2013, conflict between government and opposition forces led to a humanitarian crisis with millions of South Sudanese displaced and food insecure. The warring parties signed a peace agreement in August 2015 that created a transitional government of national unity in April 2016. However, in July 2016, fighting broke out between the two principal signatories plunging the country back into conflict.

Sudan is fighting Africa's longest-running civil war. Beginning a country is hard, July 9, 2011 South Sudan toxic independence day.


South Sudan becomes an independent country, after over 20 years of guerrilla warfare, which claimed the lives of at least 2.5 million people and more than four million were displaced due to violence, starvation and drought.


Disagreements with Sudan over the oil-rich region of Abyei erupt into fighting, known as the Heglig Crisis. A peace deal was reached in June 2012 that helped resume South Sudan's oil exports and created a 10km demilitarized zone along the border.


Civil war breaks out in December 2013, soldiers from President Salva Kiir's Dinka ethnic group tried to disarm Nuer soldiers perceived to be loyal to then-ousted Vice President Riek Machar, sparking fighting and inflaming ethnic tensions in South Sudan. Kiir is a member of the country's majority Dinka population, while Machar is Nuer, the country's second-largest ethnic group. In the ensuing civil war, at least 50,000 were killed, more than 2 million displaced and nearly 5 million people faced severe food shortages. Kiir dissolves the country's 10 states and creates 28 new ones, state media reports. Rebels say the move is in violation of the treaty signed in August.


The United Nations estimates more than 2.2 million people have been displaced. The civil war has also caused food shortages and disease. The African Union releases a report listing forced cannibalism, gang rapes and death by burning as among the atrocities marking the civil war in South Sudan. Under threat of UN sanctions, Kiir signs a peace deal which rebel leader Machar signed the previous week.


Machar is sworn in on April 26, 2016. In July 2016, fighting broke out between the two principal South Sudan signatories plunging the country back into civil war conflict. Fighting breaks out with skirmishes between the Sudan People's Liberation Army, loyal to Kiir, and soldiers backing Machar. The disputes leave more than 150 dead across South Sudan capital of Juba. Kiir removes Machar as vice president for the second time and replaces him with Taban Deng Gai, who had previously served as Machar's chief negotiator, as well as South Sudan's mining minister. The UN's refugee agency UNHCR reports that more than 60,000 people, most of whom are women and children, have fled South Sudan since fighting began in July. That brings the overall total of South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries to almost 900,000 since December 2013.


August 2017, at least 19 people were killed in fighting in South Sudan, American journalist Christopher Allen was among those killed amid fighting between government forces and rebels in Yei River state, according to a statement from the US State Department.

Special event in Juba South Sudan for International Day for elimination of Sexual Violence in conflict
Special event in Juba South Sudan for International Day for the elimination of Sexual Violence in conflict

Did you know?

South Sudan-Sudan boundary represents January 1, 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.

The Ilemi Triangle is an area of disputed land in East Africa. Arbitrarily defined, it measures between 3,985 and 5,405 sq miles or 10,320 and 14,000 square kilometers. Named after Anuak chief Ilemi Akwon, the Ilemi Triangle territory is claimed by South Sudan and Kenya and borders Ethiopia.

South Sudan independence did not bring an end to the civil war conflict. Timeline of South Sudan independence and war. Sudan fighting is Africa's longest-running civil war one-third of the population in South Sudan have fled their homes after independence.

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