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The Republic of South Sudan is an East-Central African country surrounded by the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda. Its longest border is with Sudan, from which it separated in 2011.

Although South Sudan and Sudan were once part of the same country, it was neither an easy union or a natural one. While North Sudan is almost entirely Islamic, Islam is a minority religion in South Sudan, by most estimations, although no census has included religion since South Sudan became a country. Some estimate that as much as 90% of South Sudanese identify with Christianity, while others insist that the majority of the population follows traditional indigenous religions. Very likely, Christian practices are intermingled with traditional practices, as is often the case.

Sudan and South Sudan were together under the joint jurisdiction of Britain and Egypt for a time but, in practice, Britain made the appointments and the rules. During this era, Britain administered South Sudan and North Sudan separately, which probably fostered the differences between the two.

In 1953, North and South Sudan were given the right to self rule. With full independence in 1956, its constitution did not specify the secular or religious character of the new government or its governmental structure. While the people of South Sudan were led to believe that they would be part of a federal system of government, the Arab-controlled North Sudan government imposed a unitary form of government and an Islamic State.

This led to a mutiny by southern military officers, and to a 17-year Sudanese Civil War. Promised a degree of autonomy and exclusion from Sharia Law in 1972, a peace was negotiated. But it proved not to be a lasting one, for the North again reneged on its agreement, resulting in a Second Sudanese Civil War and the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

North and South Sudan were at war for three-fourths of the time that they were part of the same country. Violence, famine and death killed more than two million people, and about 600,000 people sought refuge in neighboring countries.

The Republic of South Sudan became an independent nation on July 9, 2011, with 98.83% of the people of South Sudan voting for independence from Sudan. Unfortunately, this was not a moment when everyone lived happily ever after.

South Sudan is a country made up of several tribal groups, many speaking different languages. South Sudan soon found itself at war with multiple armed groups in nine of its ten states, the rebels blaming the new government of not fairly representing all tribal groups, of neglecting development in rural areas, and there were concerns that the interim government was plotting to remain in power indefinitely. Additionally, there were inter-tribal clashes.

In December of 2013, the president accused a former deputy of attempting a coup, and fighting broke out, sparking a South Sudanese Civil War which continues as of this writing, in January of 2018. Ugandan military forces have been brought in on the side of the South Sudanese government, and the United Nations has peacekeepers in the country. A peace agreement was signed in 2015, but it proved to be short-lived. An estimated 300,000 people have been killed in the South Sudanese War thus far, and as many as three million have been displaced, some having fled to Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

In an attempt to pacify tribal groups, the South Sudanese issued a decree in 2015 that replaced South Sudan's original 10 states with 28 states that were established along ethnic lines. In 2017, 4 additional states were added.

South Sudan is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, and has taken steps to join the Commonwealth of Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

Several reports of human rights violations have been made, but the majority of them are attributed to various rebel or tribal groups. These include torture and the recruitment of child soldiers by rebel groups, as well as accusations of rape by soldiers on all sides of the conflict. Amnesty International has claimed that the South Sudanese Army suffocated more than 60 people to death in a shipping container for supporting the opposition.

Due to years of war, South Sudan's culture is heavily influenced by that of bordering countries, as many South Sudanese have fled to other countries, while many of those who remained during the Sudanese Wars have assimilated Arab culture.

The official language of South Sudan is English, but more than sixty indigenous languages are in use. The country's educational system is similar to that of North Sudan, except that English rather than Arabic is used. Illiteracy rates in South Sudan are as high as 80%, higher among women. Fewer than one percent of females complete primary school.


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