Geography of South Sudan

Kids play on a street in Juba, South Sudan

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South Sudan, officially called the Republic of South Sudan, is the world's newest country. It is a landlocked country located on the continent of Africa to the south of Sudan. South Sudan became an independent nation at midnight on July 9, 2011, after a January 2011 referendum regarding its secession from Sudan passed with around 99% of voters in favor of the split. South Sudan mainly voted to secede from Sudan because of cultural and religious differences and a decades-long civil war.

Fast Facts: South Sudan

  • Official Name: Republic of South Sudan
  • Capital: Juba
  • Population: 10,204,581 (2018)
  • Official Language: English
  • Currency: South Sudanese pounds (SSP)
  • Form of Government: Presidential republic
  • Climate: Hot with seasonal rainfall influenced by the annual shift of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone; rainfall heaviest in upland areas of the south and diminishes to the north
  • Total Area: 248,776 square miles (644,329 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Kinyeti at 10,456.5 feet (3,187 meters)
  • Lowest Point: White Nile at 1,250 feet (381 meters)

History of South Sudan

South Sudan's history did not become documented until the early 1800s when Egyptians took control of the area; however, oral traditions claim that the people of South Sudan entered the region before the 10th century and organized tribal societies existed there from the 15th to the 19th centuries. By the 1870s, Egypt attempted to colonize the area and established the colony of Equatoria. In the 1880s, the Mahdist Revolt occurred and Equatoria's status as an Egyptian outpost was over by 1889. In 1898, Egypt and Great Britain established joint control of Sudan and in 1947, British colonists entered South Sudan and attempted to join it with Uganda. The Juba Conference, also in 1947, instead joined South Sudan with Sudan.

In 1953, Great Britain and Egypt gave Sudan the powers of self-government and on January 1, 1956, Sudan gained full independence. Shortly after independence though, Sudan's leaders failed to deliver on promises to create a federal system of government, which began a long period of civil war between the northern and southern areas of the country because the north has long tried to implement Muslim policies and customs on the Christian south.

By the 1980s, the civil war in Sudan caused serious economic and social problems which resulted in a lack of infrastructure, human rights issues and the displacement of a large part of its population. In 1983, the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) was founded and in 2000, Sudan and the SPLA/M came up with several agreements that would give South Sudan independence from the rest of the country and put it on a path to becoming an independent nation. After working with the United Nations Security Council the government of Sudan and the SPLM/A signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on January 9, 2005.
On January 9, 2011, Sudan held an election with a referendum regarding South Sudan's secession. It passed with nearly 99% of the vote and on July 9, 2011, South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan, making it the world's 196th independent country.

Government of South Sudan

South Sudan's interim constitution was ratified on July 7, 2011, which established a presidential system of government and a president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, as the head of that government. In addition, South Sudan has a unicameral South Sudan Legislative Assembly and an independent judiciary with the highest court being the Supreme Court. South Sudan is divided into 10 different states and three historical provinces (Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria, and Greater Upper Nile), and its capital city is Juba, which is located in the state of Central Equatoria.

Economy of South Sudan

South Sudan's economy is based mainly on the export of its natural resources. Oil is the main resource in South Sudan and oilfields in the southern part of the country drive its economy. There are, however, conflicts with Sudan as to how the revenue from the oilfields will be split following South Sudan's independence. Timber resources like teak, also represent a major part of the region's economy and other natural resources include iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, and gold. Hydropower is also important, as the Nile River has many tributaries in South Sudan. Agriculture also plays a major role in South Sudan's economy and the main products of that industry are cotton, sugarcane, wheat, nuts and fruit like mangoes, papaya, and bananas.

Geography and Climate of South Sudan

South Sudan is a landlocked country located in eastern Africa. Since South Sudan is located near the Equator in the tropics, much of its landscape consists of tropical rainforest and its protected national parks are home to a plethora of migrating wildlife. South Sudan also has extensive swamp and grassland regions. The White Nile, a main tributary of the Nile River, also passes through the country. The highest point in South Sudan is Kinyeti at 10,456 feet (3,187 m) and it is located on its far southern border with Uganda.

The climate of South Sudan varies but it is mainly tropical. Juba, the capital and largest city in South Sudan, has an average yearly high temperature of 94.1 degrees (34.5˚C) and an average yearly low temperature of 70.9 degrees (21.6˚C). The most rainfall in South Sudan is between the months of April and October and the average yearly total for rainfall is 37.54 inches (953.7 mm).


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Briney, Amanda. "Geography of South Sudan." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Briney, Amanda. (2020, August 27). Geography of South Sudan. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "Geography of South Sudan." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).