South Sudan is country in north-eastern Africa, formally the southern region of Sudan until independence in July 2011. Following near-continuous civil wars and local conflicts since Sudanese independence from the United Kingdom, agreement was reached on a treaty that included provision for a referendum, in January 2011, in which the South had the option of whether or not to become an independent state. The result was 98.83% of voters - almost 3.8 million people - in favour of independence. South Sudan now issues its own currency. Its current capital is Juba, but in the future the capital will move to Ramciel. The official language of South Sudan is English, despite Arabic being quite widely used and the presence of many indigenous languages.
South Sudan is an oil-rich region. Actual oil drilling is centred around Bentiu, though oil must be exported via a port in Sudan. A politically and economically significant, if difficult, alternative being explored is to develop a rail service linking Bentiu to railway facilities in northern Kenya, which would take crude oil as far as the head of a pipeline in Kenya, and thence to a refinery and port at Mombasa. While an experienced German firm has been ready to build and fund the railway, there has been slow progress in getting Kenyan approval for the project. The oil facilities in Mombasa are in need of renovation. If the South Sudan to Kenya alternative became viable, it would be an immense political-economic lever on the Sudanese government, which saw the southern deposits as a source of foreign income.
While the Darfur Conflict has drawn the most world attention, there were more deaths in 2008 in what was then southern Sudan than in Darfur, along with more than 350,000 Internally Displaced Persons. These are primarily local and tribal conflicts, although there is a possibility of limited destabilization from Sudan, which the International Crisis Group considered possible but not probable. The New York Times reported it as being more likely, mentioning a flow of weapons into the South. Before the Power-Sharing Agreement, Sudan assisted the Ugandan-based Lord's Resistance Army against the South.
The worst violence is in the state of Jonglei, with an area of 120,000 km2 and a population of 1.3 million engaged primarily in pastoralism with seasonal migration. Roads and other infrastructure are largely absent, as is a secure food supply and access to justice. "The escalating conflict cycles witnessed in and around Jonglei in 2009 have sown deep mistrust, and movement during the dry season could reignite large-scale conflict". An attack in September, against Dinka-majority Duk Padiet in Jonglei, was conducted by Nuer, who said, "Dinka-led local government was blockading a road into Nuer areas and not allowing the Nuer access to the river. 'The Nuer felt the government was ignoring them,' said Solomon Pur, a Nuer youth leader."
- BBC News: 'South Sudan backs independence - results'. 7th February 2011.
- Jonglei's Tribal Conflicts: Countering Insecurity in Southern Sudan, International Crisis Group, 23 December 2009, Africa Report N°154
- Jeffrey Gettleman (12 December 2009), "Violence Grips South Sudan as Vote Nears", New York Times