25 interesting facts about South Sudan

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The most interesting facts about South Sudan, from Africa’s newest nation and decades of conflict to “mega-herds” of migrating wildlife.

Juba and the White Nile
Interesting facts about South Sudan include the River Nile (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of South Sudan
Capital city: Juba
Population: 10,561,244
Area: 644,329 sq km
Major languages: English, Arabic
Time zone: UTC+3 (East Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about South Sudan

1. South Sudan is a landlocked country in Africa. Landlocked countries are wholly surrounded by land and do not have access to open sea. Currently, there are 45 landlocked countries along with five partially recognised countries in the world.
– Source: CIA World Fact BookThe Telegraph

2. South Sudan was once part of Africa’s largest (Sudan) and the world’s 10th largest country. Now it ranks as Africa’s 19th and the world’s 41st largest country.
– Source: World Bank

3. The wider area of Sudan, known as Ancient Nubia, has been inhabited since Mesolithic times (Middle Stone Age), around 30,000 to 20,000 BC.
– Source: Britannica

South Sudanese people
Humans have inhabited Sudan for millennia (Shutterstock)

4. The name “Sudan” comes from the Arabic “bilad-as-sudan” meaning “land of the black people”.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

5. From 1899 to 1955, South Sudan was part of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and under joint British-Egyptian rule.
– Source: BBC News

6. In 1956, Sudan gained independence from the UK.
– Source: BBC News

A map of South Sudan showing Sudan to its north
A map of South Sudan showing Sudan to its north (Shutterstock)

7. In 2011 Sudan, split into two countries and South Sudan became the world’s newest internationally recognized country.
– Source: Britannica

8. The split followed a 2005 peace agreement, which ended Africa’s longest-running civil war – the Second Sudanese Civil War. The conflict lasted 22 years from 1983 to 2005, killed at least 1.5 million and displaced over four million people.
– Source: BBC News

9. This had followed a previous civil war that had been fought in Sudan from 1955 to 1972 between a guerrilla movement and the Sudanese government.
– Source: BBC News

10. In 2013, civil war broke out yet again, when President Salva Kiir accused his former vice-president, Riek Machar, of plotting to overthrow him. This led to yet another conflict that has displaced at least another four million people.
– Source: BBC News

11. South Sudan’s flag consists of horizontal black, red and green stripes, separated by two white lines. The thick stripes represent the (black) people, their (red) blood and the fertile (green) land. White is for peace. The blue triangle symbolises the River Nile and the yellow star represents hope for the people.
– Source: Britannica

South Sudan's flag
South Sudan’s flag (Shutterstock)

12. South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world when measured by GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). In 2020, is ranked eighth-poorest.
– Source: World Bank

13. With with hundreds of language groups, South Sudan is one of Africa’s most linguistically diverse countries.
– Source: The Guardian

14. South Sudan is one of 27 countries that doesn’t have any UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, it does have three properties on the Tentative List (properties intended to be submitted for nomination).
– Source: UNESCOThe Telegraph

Migrating animals in Boma National Park
Migrating animals in Boma National Park (CC 2.0: WCS/P Elkan/UNESCO)

15. One of these sites is the Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape which includes the Boma and Badingilo national parks. The Boma National Park is one of Africa’s largest reserves and home to one of the continent’s’ largest wildlife migrations with as many as two million animals simultaneously migrating in “mega-herds”.
– Source: UNESCO, Bradt Guides

16. South Sudan has one of the world’s lowest life expectancies. As of 2020, it had the eighth-lowest life expectancy of just 57.6 years.
– Source: World Bank

17. The longest river in the world, The Nile, runs through South Sudan. The White Nile, one of the two main tributaries of the Nile, runs through South Sudan’s capital city. It joins the other major tributary, the Blue Nile, at Khartoum in Sudan.
– Source: Britannica

Juba and the White Nile
Juba and the White Nile (Shutterstock)

18. The name Juba derives from Djouba, another name for the Bari people of South Sudan.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

19. There are over 60 different ethnic groups in South Sudan.
– Source: Vox

20. South Sudan is home to the Sudd, Africa’s largest wetland and one of the largest tropical wetlands in the world.
– Source: UNESCO

21. South Sudan suffers from some of the world’s worst air pollution. As of 202, it had the ninth highest number of deaths caused by air pollution.
– Source: Our World in Data

An armed soldier in South Sudan
South Sudan has suffered from decades of unrest (Shutterstock)

22. South Sudan is among the world’s most dangerous countries to visit according to the International SOS Travel Risk Map. It has been assessed as carrying an ‘extreme travel security risk’.
– Source: The Independent

23. South Sudan was once a major slave-trading area in the 19th Century in the Arab slave trade.
– Source: UNESCO

24. According to the UK Foreign Office, South Sudan is also one of 17 countries deemed to be entirely unsafe for tourists to visit.
– Source: The Telegraph

25. Due to the continued unrest in South Sudan, there are deep concerns about the population. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is an annual report produced to measure hunger around the world and suggests South Sudan is likely suffering from alarming levels of hunger.
– Source:  Global Hunger Index (GHI)


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