South Sudan, or officially the Republic of South Sudan, became an independent country on the 9th of July 2011, after a period of autonomy from Sudan of about 4 years.
Initially, the country was part of the British and Egyptian condominium of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and became part of the Republic of Sudan when independence was achieved in 1956. Following the First Sudanese Civil War, the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was formed in 1972 and lasted until 1983. A second Sudanese civil war soon developed and ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005. Later that year southern autonomy was restored when an Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan was formed. South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011 at midnight local time following a referendum held in January 2011 in which nearly 99% of voters opted for separation from the rest of Sudan.
The Republic of South Sudan covers almost 620,000 square kilometres. It is a landlocked country bordered by Ethiopia to the east, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Central African Republic to the west, and finally to the north its the country with which it formed one until the 9th of July 2011: Sudan. The country is covered by tropical forests, swamps and grassland. Other habitats in the country include high-altitude plateaus and escarpments, and wooded and grassy savannas. The White Nile passes through the country as well, passing by Juba.
South Sudan still has quite a few protected areas and parks, which surprisingly are for the larger part still intact. The Boma-Jonglei Landscape region encompasses Boma National Park, broad pasturelands and floodplains, Bandingilo National Park, and the Sudd, a vast area of swamp and seasonally flooded grasslands that includes the Zeraf Wildlife Reserve. The country hosts the second largest wildlife migration in the world (after the one in the Masai Mara and Serengeti National Park in Kenya and Tanzania) with about 1.3 million antelopes being part o that migration! Boma National Park, as well as the Sudd wetland and Southern National Park provided habitat for large populations of hartebeest, kob, topi, buffalo, elephants, giraffes, and lions. South Sudan's forest reserves also provided habitat for bongo, giant forest hogs, Red River Hogs, forest elephants, chimpanzees, and forest monkeys. Although numbers have been decreasing during the last decades, signifcant numbers are still here. Other wildlife species include the endemic white-eared kob and Nile Lechwe, as well as Common and Giant Eland, oryx and African Wild Dogs.
South Sudan is divided three historical regions, again divided into ten states and furthermore subdivided into 86 counties. The regions and states are:
|Bahr el Ghazal||Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, Warrap|
|Equatoria||Western Equatoria, Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria|
|Greater Upper Nile||Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile|
In the past few years, more and more events have been added to South Sudan's calendar. This means that there is often a choice of distractions and celebrations whatever time of the year you choose to visit.
Many of the country's festivals are aimed at promoting its cultural assets, alongside peace and prosperity. Others have the aim of raising much-needed funds for hospitals or other public projects.
If you are planning to holiday in South Sudan during the month of July or August, then you will find plenty of quality attractions and events. Each year on July 9th, the Independence Day festivities come along, being at their biggest within the capital city of Juba, where they also comprise a well-supported marathon race. During the following month of August, the Festival of Fashion and Arts for Peace is well worth looking out for in the capital, as is the oriental extravaganza that is the Japanese Summer Fest.
Unlike its arid northern neighbour, South Sudan has a more tropical climate with hot and humid conditions year round and very marginal difference in temperatures between the warmest and the coolest months. Typically, June to September sees average highs of around 26-27 °C, with nights around 23-24 °C, while days from October to May are in the 28-31 °C range and lows in the 25-28 °C range. Humidity is mostly in the 80% or higher area, though December to March is somewhat better and also is the driest time of the year. July to September sees most showers and the annual amount of precipitation is around 1,000mm. Note that the above averages are for Juba and that regional variations apply. Also note that the further north you go, the drier and hotter it becomes.
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There is one railway line in South Sudan that enters from Sudan in the north and terminates at Wau. Before independence there were services between Wau and Babanosa, which had rail connections to Khartoum. As of 2014, however, there are no scheduled passenger services.
As South Sudan achieved independence fairly recently, the immigration rules are still prone to change. They have, however, instituted proper visas in your passport now, instead of the travel permits that were formerly used. The visas are issued for US$100 at all border crossings and Juba International Airport. The length of the visas issued seems to vary randomly between 1 and 6 months. An invitation letter may be required depending on which official is at the desk on your day of arrival. The process can take 3 hours. If you do not have a local contact with official connections, it would be safer to get a visa before arriving in the country. Visas are now available from the embassy in London for GBP35 cash and typically take 3 working days to process.
The Sudanese Pound (SDG) is the official currency of the country.
English is the official language of the country, though the so-called Juba Arabic is spoken in and around the capital as well.
In the towns of South Sudan such as Rumbek and Juba, Kenyan and Ugandan beers are starting to appear in bars at inflated cross-border prices.
Fresh fruit juices are available throughout Sudan. One of the local juices is "aradeab" (tamarind).
See also Travel Health
Proof that you had a yellow fever vaccination is required upon entering South Sudan when you have been in a yellow fever country within 7 days of entering South Sudan. Still, it is recommended you get the yellow fever vaccination anyway. You have to have a cholera stamp (prove of the fact that you don't have that desease) when entering overland.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to South Sudan. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also both hepatitis A as well as typhoid would be recommended.
If you are staying longer than 3 months or have a particular risk (travelling by bike, handling of animals, visits to caves) you might consider a rabies vaccination. Vaccination against Tuberculosis as well as hepatitis B are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months. When staying longer than 6 months, vaccination against meningitis might be recommended, depending on your contact with other people.
Like most African countries south of the Sahara, Malaria is prevalent in the country. Don't underestimate this tropical disease and take precautions. Buy repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Dengue is present in some parts of the country, mainly around urban areas.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
Due to an ongoing conflict with Sudan, as well as violent political/civil unrest, South Sudan is currently dangerous for travel - especially the areas close to the border. Although the level of violence has subsided since the establishment of the country and the end of the civil war, this will not at all guarantee safety for any traveller to the country. Travel near the Sudan or CAR borders is extremely dangerous.
Following what was called an attempted coup on 16 Dec 2013, travel to Juba and South Sudan should be avoided if at all possible.
A curfew is in place from 18:00 to 06:00. Though Juba has remained quiet, fighting is still reported from other towns, possibly as a result of departing combatants from the Juba area.
On and after 18 Dec, a number of embassies evacuated their staff after the airport reopened. The UK and Canada are recommending their citizens leave the country. Other visitors should likewise consider leaving as soon as possible, now that commercial flights have resumed. EU citizens should contact an EU embassy for assistance, if they cannot make contact with the embassy of their home country.
See also International Telephone Calls
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