Facts About South Sudan's Culture, Geography, and History
There is so much that remains unexplored in this richly diverse country. The 12 interesting facts offers you an opportunity to learn what to expect from South Sudan
12. South Sudan is the world’s newest country. It’s located in Central Africa, is about the size of France and has a population of about 11 million people.
The independence of South Sudan was achieved after almost two decades of struggle against the Sudan regime that imposed draconian religious laws against the southern people after scrapping off their autonomy. It is a large land with most parts remaining uninhabited.
11. South Sudan was created by splitting the country of Sudan, which had been one of the largest African nations.
After nearly two decades of war between the southern rebels led by Dr. John Garang and the Sudan government led by various leaders spanning the entire period of civil war, South Sudan managed to secede from the rest of Sudan.
This secession was made possible through a Referendum conducted in 2011. This eventually broke the once Africa’s largest country into two.
10. Juba is the capital of South Sudan. It is located on the White Nile and is the seat and metropolis of Juba County. It is also the capital of Central Equatorial.
Juba is the most vibrant city in South Sudan. It is also the most populated city. It currently has a population of about half-a-million people.
It became South Sudan’s first capital city immediately after splitting from the rest of Sudan. The city was founded in 1922 and the capital covers an area of about 52 square kilometers.
9. Today, though a large number of ecologists head for South Sudan it offers practically zero tourist infrastructure, no paved roads and the communications infrastructure is almost non-existent.
South Sudan was largely neglected by the former Sudan regime due to racial considerations as Southerners are predominantly Blacks while the Northerners (occupying current Sudan) are predominantly Arabs.
As such, South Sudan never had infrastructure worth talking about. After independence, many hoped that South Sudan would quickly develop. Unfortunately, civil war persists today.
Despite South Sudan having all the three important golds, namely, White gold (water), green gold (rich vegetation), and black gold (oil), it remains as close to the jungle as possible.
8. The Boma National Park, situated close to the Ethiopian border is a vast expanse of wilderness that is home to wildlife including migratory herds of over a million Mongalla gazelle, white-eared kob, tiang and antelope.
Home to some of Africa’s big herbivores and cats, Boma National Park hosts elephants, buffalos, hartebeests, elands, lions, leopards, cheetahs, tiang, and the rare white-eared kob, among hundreds of other wild animals and birds.
This protected area is located near the Ethiopian border in the eastern parts of Southern Sudan and covers 22,800 square kilometers.
7. The Dinka is the largest of the 200 ethnic groups that call South Sudan home. Other tribes include the Shilluk, Nuer, Acholi, and Lotuhu.
South Sudan has many different ethnic groups most of which are Nilotic (people of the Nile). Dinka forms the largest ethnic group followed by the Nuer. Other dominant tribes are the Silluk, Loluhu, and Acholi.
Unfortunately, this rich diversity hasn’t been the source of peace but rather a source of war with supremacy battles between the Dinka (roots of the current president, Kiir) and the Nuer (roots of the founder of the nation Dr. Garang, and Kiir’s bitter rive – Marchar).
6. South Sudan is one of Africa’s most linguistically-diverse countries. It has several hundreds of language groups.
Despite being largely Nilotic group, there a huge linguistic diversity not found elsewhere among the Nilotic groups who also occupy Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and parts of Sudan.
South Sudan seems to be the cradle of the Nilotic groups who eventually spread out to other parts of Africa. Some other members of this Nilotic group are the Teso, Turkana, and Luos found in Kenya; the Acholi, Teso, and Karamajong found in Uganda, among others.
5. Nimule, the small but breathtaking national park in South Sudan was home to the now-extinct white rhino.
Nimule National Park is located near the border with Uganda. It covers an area of 663 square kilometers. Illungwa Mountains and Nile River are the key landmarks characterizing this wetland region.
4. In 1977 Oil is discovered in southwestern Sudan. A civil war in the 1980s and 1990s prevented much exploration or development of oil deposits.
South Western Sudan is the home of the black gold (oil). It is this black gold that helped to fuel the bitter war between South Sudan and North Sudan (current Sudan).
North Sudan deliberately fueled this war by arming and financing various faction groups while pushing northern herders into this territory so as to alter its ethnic composition with the aim of claiming it for the North.
However, eventually, South Sudan got is black gold through international mediation with an exception of Abyei, a disputed territory claimed by both countries.
3. Many South Sudanese fled the Civil War to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda where they interacted with the nationals and learned their languages and culture.
Uganda continues to hold the largest contingent of Sudanese refugees, most of whom ran away due to civil war after independence.
Prior to independence most of the South Sudan refugees were located in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya due to political instability in Uganda in the 1970s and 1980s.
John Garang, the founder of South Sudan, lived more in Kenya than he ever lived elsewhere. Most of South Sudan Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, and senior public officials have homes and investments in Kenya. Dr. John Garang taught in Kenyan schools for long and mastered the Swahili language.
There are still many Sudanese studying in Kenyan schools as South Sudan has adopted the Kenyan education system, though it doesn’t have sufficient resources and infrastructure. Most of the pioneer teachers and professionals in South Sudan are Kenyans.
2. One of the most important forms of cultural expression among non-literate groups in South Sudan is an oral tradition.
Like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, knowledge was stored and transmitted orally. Prior to colonialism, the written form of communication was non-existent in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Folklores were the best means of expressing and retaining traditional knowledge. There were many rituals and ceremonies – almost for every major event – as a way of imparting this traditional knowledge and transmitting it from one generation to another through the rites of passage (birth, child naming, circumcision, courtship, marriage, divorce, death, etc).
While these traditions have fizzled out in most of Sub-Saharan Africa due to intrusion of modernity, they remain almost intact and are still practiced in South Sudan.
1. Traditional dress varies throughout South Sudan and among ethnic groups. Because of the hot climate, clothing tends to be loose-fitting and of light material.
Some of the hottest regions in the world are found in the larger Sudan (both Sudan and South Sudan). As such, the weather is generally hot most of the day.
This makes it necessary to wear light and loose garments to allow sufficient aeration. Traditionally, it is just the private parts that are covered. It is common to find teenagers comfortably walking and playing naked.
South Sudan is the world’s newest nation. It has a rich cultural diversity and natural wealth that rests largely unexplored.
It is a nation that is yet to benefit from its many years of struggle for independence. However, it remains an expatriates’ heaven as there are many unfilled opportunities.
Keep reading: What Is the Largest Country In Africa?