Alas, July 9, 2011 marks the official date of independence for the newest country in the world, The Republic of South Sudan. Officially marking the 195th independent country recognized by the US Department of State, South Sudan is a diverse region home to the many ethnicities predominantly Dinka, Shilluk, and Nuer. While South Sudan has its roots in subsistence agriculture, the majority of its wealth is based on their oil reserves.
Even with this oil wealth, former Sudan was one of the poorest nations in the world. Currently, South Sudan is home to 6 million people. After a 22 year civil war between the North and South, Sudan has taken a major hit economically, socially and politically. During this period, 2 million people have died and 4 million people have been displaced.
In an effort to change the current environment, leaders decided back in January to put forth a referendum to vote on whether the South Sudanese wanted sovereignty from their northern neighbor. An overwhelming 99% voted in favor of independence which was the final seal in their separation from North Sudan back to the 1956 boundaries.
Currently, South Sudan is making the switch over to an independent, sovereign nation. One major issue to the border dispute is over the oil reserves. While the land borders have not yet been finalized, approximately 75% of the oil reserves are located in South Sudan. That being said, however, most of the refineries and Red Sea pipelines are in Sudan (North). This reliance on the northern neighbor reveals that both parties will continue to work together in order to promote progress within both countries. This is critical to both parties as South Sudan is a landlocked country that requires access to the sea for oil transport.
We will continue to follow developments on this new country as South Sudan is officially the newest country since 1993 when Eritrea split from Ethiopia.