South Sudan (09/22/11)

September 22, 2011

For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.


Area: TBD sq. km. (TBD sq. mi.); Negotiations between the North and South over borders continue. This information will be updated upon conclusion of those talks. South Sudan is comprised of 10 states; Western Bahr el Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Lakes, Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity and is estimated to be the 7th largest country in Africa.
Cities: Capital--Juba. Other cities--Aweil , Malakal, Yambio, Torit, Wau, Bentiu, Bor.
Land boundaries: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.
Terrain: Mainly grasslands, wooded and grassy savannahs, floodplains, and wetlands. Generally flat with some high altitude plateaus. Divided by the White Nile River, South Sudan is inundated during the annual floods of the Nile River system (the Suud or swamps).
Climate: Tropical, hot and humid.

Nationality: Noun and adjective (sing. and pl.)—South Sudanese.
Population (June 2009 est.): 8,260,490.

Jonglei state: 1,358,602
Central Equatoria state: 1,103,592
Warrap state: 972,928
Upper Nile: 964,353
Eastern Eqatoria state: 906,126
Northern Bahr el Ghazal: 720,898
Lakes state: 695,730
Western Equatoria state: 619,029
Unity state: 585,801
Western Bahr el Ghazal: 333,431
Annual population growth rate: TBD%.

Ethnic groups: Black African/Christian and animist south, among the largest ethnic groups are the Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk.
Religions: The majority of South Sudanese maintain traditional/indigenous beliefs, followed closely by Christianity, and some Islam.
Languages: English (official), tribal languages, some Arabic.
Education: Years compulsory--TBD. Attendance--TBD%. Literacy--TBD%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--TBD. Life expectancy--TBD yrs.
Work force: Agriculture--TBD%; industry and commerce--TBD%; government--TBD%.

Independence: July 9, 2011
Type: Democratic Government established by the declaration of independence on July 9th, marking an end of the interim period under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in January 2005 that provided for power sharing between the North and South.

Constitution: On July 9th, 2011, the Government of South Sudan will amend the December 2005 interim constitution. The new Transitional Constitution of South Sudan will come into force, subject to approval by the assembly, and further signed into law by the President. The draft transitional constitution has the approval of the Council of Ministers, and is due to be passed by the South Sudan Legislative Assembly. When passed, the new Constitution will be reviewed, in the future, by a representative National Constitutional Review Commission. This will involve a national consultation, gathering views from communities and stakeholders across the country.

Branches: Executive--executive authority is held by the president, who also is the prime minister, head of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces. The executive branch also includes a vice president. Legislative—The National Assembly has TBD elected members.

Administrative subdivisions: Ten states, most with an elected governor, along with a state cabinet and elected state legislative assembly.

Political parties: Currently there are very few political parties, with the landscape dominated by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)

Central government budget (YR est.): $TBD billion.

Defense (YR est.): TBD% of GDP.

GDP (YR est.): $ billion
GDP annual growth rate (YR est.): TBD%.
Per capita income GDP (YR est.): $TBD.
Avg. annual inflation rate (YR est.): TBD%.

Natural resources: Sudan has significant oil reserves, with the vast majority found in South Sudan. Productions figures are estimated to be 470,000 bbl/d for all of Sudan, with roughly 75% coming from the South. They also export timber, specifically teak and other natural trees for timber. One of the major natural features of the Southern Sudan is the River Nile whose many tributaries have sources in the country. In addition to oil, the region also contains many other natural resources such as iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, and hydropower. The country's economy, as in many other developing countries, is heavily dependent on agriculture. Products include cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), sorghum, millet, wheat, gum arabic, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), mangos, papaya, bananas, sweet potatoes, and sesame.

Agriculture: Products--cotton, peanuts, sorghum, sesame seeds, gum arabic, sugarcane, millet, livestock.

Industry: Types-- cotton, edible oils and sugar refining.

Trade: Exports (YR est.)--$TBD billion


The southern region has a population of around 8 million and a predominantly rural, subsistence economy. Except for a 10-year hiatus, southern Sudan has been embroiled in conflict, resulting in major destruction and displacement since independence. The conflict has severely affected the population of the South, resulting in over 2 million deaths and more than 4 million people displaced between 1983 and 2005. The Southern Sudanese practice mainly indigenous traditional beliefs, although Christian missionaries have converted some. The South also contains many tribal groups and many more languages than are used in the north. The Dinka--whose population is estimated at more than 1 million--is the largest of the many black African tribes in Sudan. The Shilluk and the Nuer are among the Nilotic tribes. The Azande, Bor, and Jo Luo are Sudanic tribes in the west, and the Acholi and Lotuhu live in the extreme south, extending into Uganda.


Sudan was a collection of small, independent kingdoms and principalities from the beginning of the Christian era until 1820-21, when Egypt conquered and unified the northern portion of the country. However, neither the Egyptian nor the Mahdist state (1883-1898) had any effective control of the southern region outside of a few garrisons. Southern Sudan remained an area of fragmented tribes, subject to frequent attacks by slave raiders.

In 1881, a religious leader named Muhammad ibn Abdalla proclaimed himself the Mahdi, or the "expected one," and began a religious crusade to unify the tribes in western and central Sudan. His followers took on the name "Ansars" (the followers) which they continue to use today and are associated with the single largest political grouping, the Umma Party, led by a descendant of the Mahdi, Sadiq al Mahdi.

Taking advantage of dissatisfaction resulting from Ottoman-Egyptian exploitation and maladministration, the Mahdi led a nationalist revolt culminating in the fall of Khartoum in 1885. The Mahdi died shortly thereafter, but his state survived until overwhelmed by an invading Anglo-Egyptian force under Lord Kitchener in 1898. While nominally administered jointly by Egypt and Britain, Britain exercised control, formulated policies, and supplied most of the top administrators.

Sudanese Independence and North-South Conflict
In February 1953, the United Kingdom and Egypt concluded an agreement providing for Sudanese self-government and self-determination. The transitional period toward independence began with the inauguration of the first parliament in 1954. With the consent of the British and Egyptian Governments, Sudan achieved independence on January 1, 1956, under a provisional constitution. This constitution was silent on two crucial issues for southern leaders--the secular or Islamic character of the state and its federal or unitary structure. However, the Arab-led Khartoum government reneged on promises to southerners to create a federal system, which led to a mutiny by southern army officers that launched 17 years of civil war (1955-72).

Sudan has been at war with itself for more than three-quarters of its existence. Since independence, protracted conflict rooted in deep cultural and religious differences have slowed Sudan’s economic and political development and forced massive internal displacement of its people.

In 1958, General Ibrahim Abboud seized power and pursued a policy of Arabization and Islamicization for both North and South Sudan that strengthened Southern opposition. General Abboud was overthrown in 1964 and a civilian caretaker government assumed control. Southern leaders eventually divided into two factions, those who advocated a federal solution and those who argued for self-determination, a euphemism for secession since it was assumed the south would vote for independence if given the choice.

Until 1969, there was a succession of governments that proved unable either to agree on a permanent constitution or to cope with problems of factionalism, economic stagnation, and ethnic dissidence. These regimes were dominated by "Arab" Muslims who asserted their Arab-Islamic agenda and refused any kind of self-determination for southern Sudan.

In May 1969, a group of communist and socialist officers led by Colonel Gaafar Muhammad Nimeiri, seized power. A month after coming to power, Nimeiri proclaimed socialism (instead of Islamism) for the country and outlined a policy of granting autonomy to the South. Nimeiri in turn was the target of a coup attempt by communist members of the government. It failed and Nimeiri ordered a massive purge of communists. This alienated the Soviet Union, which withdrew its support.

Already lacking support from the Muslim parties he had chased from power, Nimeiri could no longer count on the communist faction. Having alienated the right and the left, Nimeiri turned to the south as a way of expanding his limited powerbase. He pursued peace initiatives with Sudan’s hostile neighbors, Ethiopia and Uganda, signing agreements that committed each signatory to withdraw support for the other’s rebel movements. He then initiated negotiations with the southern rebels and signed an agreement in Addis Ababa in 1972 that granted a measure of autonomy to the South. Southern support helped him put down two coup attempts, one initiated by officers from the western regions of Darfur and Kordofan who wanted for their region the same privileges granted to the south.

However, the Addis Ababa Agreement had no support from either the secularist or Islamic Northern parties. Nimeiri concluded that their lack of support was more threatening to his regime than lack of support from the south so he announced a policy of national reconciliation with all the religious opposition forces. These parties did not feel bound to observe an agreement they perceived as an obstacle to furthering an Islamist state. The scales against the peace agreement were tipped in 1979 when Chevron discovered oil in the south. Northern pressure built to abrogate those provisions of the peace treaty granting financial autonomy to the south. Ultimately in 1983, Nimeiri abolished the Southern region, declared Arabic the official language of the South (instead of English) and transferred control of Southern armed forces to the central government. This was effectively a unilateral abrogation of the 1972 peace treaty. The second Sudan civil war began in January 1983 when southern soldiers mutinied rather than follow orders transferring them to the North.

In September 1983, as part of an Islamicization campaign, President Nimeiri announced that traditional Islamic punishments drawn from Shari’a (Islamic Law) would be incorporated into the penal code. This was controversial even among Muslim groups. Amputations for theft and public lashings for alcohol possession became common. Southerners and other non-Muslims living in the north were also subjected to these punishments.

In April 1985, while out of the country, Nimeiri was overthrown by a popular uprising in Khartoum provoked by a collapsing economy, the war in the south, and political repression. Gen. Suwar al-Dahab headed the transitional government. One of its first acts was to suspend the 1983 constitution and disband Nimeiri’s Sudan Socialist Union.

Elections were held in April 1986, and a civilian government took over power. There were tentative moves towards negotiating peace with the south. However, any proposal to exempt the south from Islamic law was unacceptable to those who supported Arabic supremacy. In 1989, an Islamic army faction led by General Umar al-Bashir mounted a coup and installed the National Islamic Front. The new government’s commitment to the Islamic cause intensified the North-South conflict.

The Bashir government combined internal political repression with international Islamist activism. It supported radical Islamist groups in Algeria and supported Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Khartoum was established as a base for militant Islamist groups: radical movements and terrorist organizations like Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaida were provided a safe haven and logistical aid in return for financial support. In 1996, the UN imposed sanctions on Sudan for alleged connections to the assassination attempt on Egyptian President Mubarak.

Meanwhile, the period of the 1990s saw a growing sense of alienation in the western and eastern regions of Sudan from the Arab center. The rulers in Khartoum were seen as less and less responsive to the concerns and grievances of both Muslim and non-Muslim populations across the country. Alienation from the "Arab" center caused various groups to grow sympathetic to the southern rebels led by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and in some cases, prompted them to flight alongside it.

The policy of the ruling regime toward the South was to pursue the war against the rebels while trying to manipulate them by highlighting tribal divisions. Ultimately, this policy resulted in the rebels’ uniting under the leadership of Colonel John Garang. During this period, the SPLM/A rebels also enjoyed support from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda. The Bashir government's "Pan-Islamic" foreign policy, which provided support for neighboring radical Islamist groups, was partly responsible for this support for the rebels.

The 1990s saw a succession of regional efforts to broker an end to the Sudanese civil war. Beginning in 1993, the leaders of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya pursued a peace initiative for the Sudan under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), but results were mixed. Despite that record, the IGAD initiative promulgated the 1994 Declaration of Principles (DOP) that aimed to identify the essential elements necessary to a just and comprehensive peace settlement; i.e., the relationship between religion and the state, power sharing, wealth sharing, and the right of self-determination for the south. The Sudanese Government did not sign the DOP until 1997 after major battlefield losses to the SPLA. That year, the Khartoum Government signed a series of agreements with rebel factions under the banner of "Peace from Within." These included the Khartoum, Nuba Mountains, and Fashoda Agreements that ended military conflict between the government and significant rebel factions. Many of those leaders then moved to Khartoum where they assumed marginal roles in the central government or collaborated with the government in military engagements against the SPLA. These three agreements paralleled the terms and conditions of the IGAD agreement, calling for a degree of autonomy for the south and the right of self-determination.

The Road to Peace
In July 2002, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A reached an historic agreement on the role of state and religion and the right of southern Sudan to self-determination. This agreement, known as the Machakos Protocol and named after the town in Kenya where the peace talks were held, concluded the first round of talks sponsored by the IGAD. The effort was mediated by retired Kenyan General Lazaro Sumbeiywo. Peace talks resumed and continued during 2003, with discussions focusing on wealth sharing and three contested areas.

On November 19, 2004, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A signed a declaration committing themselves to conclude a final comprehensive peace agreement by December 31, 2004, in the context of an extraordinary session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in Nairobi, Kenya--only the fifth time the Council has met outside of New York since its founding. At this session, the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 1574, which welcomed the commitment of the government and the SPLM/A to achieve agreement by the end of 2004, and underscored the international community’s intention to assist the Sudanese people and support implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement. In keeping with their commitment to the UNSC, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A initialed the final elements of the comprehensive agreement on December 31, 2004. The two parties formally signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on January 9, 2005. The U.S. and the international community welcomed this decisive step forward for peace in Sudan.

National elections took place from April 11-15, 2010. The elections were largely peaceful. However, there were widespread irregularities reported during the polling and counting periods, as well as serious restrictions on political space in both north and south leading up to and during the elections. The NCP and SPLM won the overwhelming majority of the electoral races, and incumbent presidents were elected for the Government of Sudan and the semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan.

Comprehensive Peace Agreement
The 2005 CPA established a new Government of National Unity and the interim Government of Southern Sudan and called for wealth-sharing, power-sharing, and security arrangements between the two parties. The historic agreement provided for a ceasefire, withdrawal of troops from southern Sudan, and the repatriation and resettlement of refugees. It also stipulated that by the end of the fourth year of an interim period there would be elections at all levels, including for national and southern Sudan president, state governors, and national, southern Sudan, and state legislatures. These elections were held in April 2010.

On July 9, 2005, the Presidency was inaugurated with al-Bashir sworn in as President and John Garang, SPLM/A leader, installed as First Vice President of Sudan. Ratification of the Interim National Constitution followed. The Constitution declares Sudan to be a “democratic, decentralized, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual State.”

On July 30, 2005, the charismatic and revered SPLM leader John Garang died in a helicopter crash. The SPLM/A immediately named Salva Kiir, Garang’s deputy, as First Vice President of the Government of National Unity and President of the Government of Southern Sudan.

Implemented provisions of the CPA include the formation of the National Legislature, appointment of Cabinet members, establishment of the Government of Southern Sudan and the signing of the interim Southern Sudan Constitution, and the appointment of state governors and adoption of state constitutions. The electoral law paving the way for national elections was passed in July 2008, and elections were held at six levels in April 2010. Laws governing the Southern Sudan and Abyei referenda and the popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile were passed in December 2009, and the parties agreed in February 2010 to begin demarcation of the north-south border.

With the establishment of the National Population Census Council, a population census was conducted in April/May 2008 in preparation for national elections that took place from April 11-15, 2010. The results from the census were released in early 2009. The CPA mandated that a referendum be held no later than January 2011, giving southerners the opportunity to vote either for unity within Sudan or separation, and that a parallel referendum be held for the people of Abyei to determine whether they wish to remain in the North or join the South.

On January 15, 2011 the week-long Southern Sudan referendum concluded, and official results were announced on February 7, 2011. More than 3.85 million people, or 97.58% of registered voters, participated with 98.83% voting for secession according to the final results. During the February 7, 2011 announcement ceremony, the Government of Sudan thanked the international community and issued the following statement: "In accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the Constitution of 2005, we accept the referendum result, and we renew our commitment to building constructive relations with the new state in the South." On the same day, President Barack Obama congratulated the people of Southern Sudan, and announced the United States' intent to formally recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011. In a separate statement on February 7, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated all of Sudan, and signaled the United States would initiate the process of withdrawing Sudan’s state sponsor of terrorism designation.

Republic of South Sudan Independence
On July 9, 2011 the Republic of South Sudan became the 195th country in the world and the 55th country in Africa. Sudan was the first country to recognize its independence. While the parties have reached sufficient agreement on citizenship that should avoid panic among southerners in the north, and the principles and management structure for a demilitarized border zone, not small achievements, several post-CPA issues--including oil management, and the status of Abyei --remained unresolved as of July 2011. The parties continue to work through these issues, and the United States remains actively engaged through its support of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and its chairman, President Thabo Mbeki.

The status of Abyei also remained unresolved as of July 2011. Although the boundaries of Abyei were defined through arbitration in The Hague in July 2009, and both sides have accepted the arbitration decision, issues persist and the Abyei boundary has not been demarcated. On June 29, 2011, the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan signed an agreement in Addis Ababa on border security arrangements in which they agreed to establish a Safe Demilitarized Border Zone and to stand-up the Joint Political and Security Mechanism before July 9. The agreement requests Ethiopian troops from the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) to provide protection for international border monitors, and invites the AU and UN to provide support for monitoring and verification within the border zone.

Humanitarian Situation
The Republic of South Sudan continues to cope with the countrywide effects of conflict, displacement, and insecurity. During more than 20 years of conflict between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), violence, famine, and disease killed more than 2 million people, forced an estimated 600,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring countries, and displaced approximately 4 million others within Sudan, creating the world's largest population of internally displaced people. Since the 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which officially ended the North-South conflict, the UN estimates that nearly 2 million displaced people have returned to Southern Sudan and the Three Areas of Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Abyei. As of September 2009, the UN estimated that Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)-related violence had displaced approximately 85,000 people in Southern Sudan, including more than 18,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. In addition, inter-ethnic conflict in Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Lakes states has killed more than 2,000 people and displaced approximately 250,000 individuals since January 2009.

The U.S. Government is the leading international donor to Sudan (both North and South) and has contributed more than $10 billion in humanitarian, development, peacekeeping, and reconstruction assistance for the people in Sudan and eastern Chad since 2005, including more than $2 billion in FY 2009 alone.

Principal Government Officials
President, -- H.E. Lt. General Salva Kiir Mayardit
Vice President— .E. Lt. General Dr. Riak Machar
Foreign Minister— H.E. Deng Alor Kuol
Ambassador to the U.S.—TBD
Ambassador to the UN—TBD

The Republic of South Sudan maintains an embassy in the United States, located at the following address:

The Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan
1233 206 Street N.W., Suite 602
Washington, D.C 20036


In March 2011, Princeton N. Lyman was appointed U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador/Charge d’affaires—Christopher Datta
Deputy Chief of Mission/Principal Officer—TBD