South Sudan is located in East-Central Africa, north of Uganda and Kenya, west of Ethiopia. With an area of 644,329 sq km, it is slightly smaller than Texas. English and Arabic are the official languages, but regional languages that are also spoken include: Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande, and Shilluk. The capital city of Juba has an estimated population of 250,000 (country population: 11,090,104). The country is landlocked with the only major waterway being the White Nile.
Egypt attempted to colonize the region of southern Sudan by establishing the province of Equatoria in the 1870s. At the end of the 19th century, an Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was established, with Equatoria being the southernmost of its eight provinces. 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.
With an Arab Khartoum government in power, two periods of conflict (1955-72 and 1983-2005) caused vast devastation to the population. Ongoing peace talks 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 (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. South Sudan’s natural resources include: hydropower, fertile agricultural land, gold, diamonds, petroleum, hardwoods, limestone, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, and silver.
Its climate is 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. South Sudan’s terrain gradually rises from plains in the north and center to southern highlands along the border with Uganda and Kenya. The White Nile, flowing north out of the uplands of Central Africa, is the major geographic feature of the country supporting agriculture and extensive wild animal populations. The Sudd (one of the world’s largest wetlands) is a large swampy area of more than 100,000 sq km fed by the waters of the White Nile that dominates the center of the country.
CIA World Factbook, 1/2014