Photos of South Sudan

Juba, a port city on the White Nile, is the capital of South Sudan and one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Juba's population is estimated to be roughly 350,000 to 400,000. The city has doubled in size since 2005, when a peace agreement ended the civil war in Sudan. Both hopeful immigrants and returning residents have created the population surge. The city was a central point for humanitarian aid, and the operations base for the UN and NGOs during the Sudanese conflicts. During the fighting, city infrastructure and main transportation arteries suffered heavy damage. The city is still surrounded by army camps and squatter settlements (labeled "informal built-up areas" in the image). They appear as muted gray areas extending outward from the center of the city. The city also hosts the Juba Game Reserve, a protected area of savannah and woodlands that is home to key bird species. Since independence, a variety of countries and international organizations have helped rebuild Juba's roads, railroads, and airport. Unfortunately, South Sudan continues to experience local wars with a variety of armed groups, including on-going conflicts with Sudan over oil-rich territories. Image courtesy of NASA.



British explorer Samuel BAKER established the colony of Equatoria in 1870, in the name of the Ottoman Khedive of Egypt who claimed the territory. Headquartered in Gondokoro (near modern day Juba), Equatoria in theory composed most of what is now South Sudan. After being cut off from colonial administration during the Mahdist War from 1885-1898, Equatoria was made a state under the Anglo-Egyptian condominium in 1899. It was largely left to itself over the following decades, but Christian missionaries converted much of the population and facilitated the spread of English, rather than Arabic. Equatoria was ruled by British colonial administrators separately from what is now Sudan until the two colonies were combined at the 1947 Juba Conference, as part of British plans to prepare the region for independence. When Sudan gained its independence in 1956, it was with the understanding that the southerners would be able to participate fully in the political system. When the Arab Khartoum government reneged on its promises, a mutiny began that led to two prolonged periods of conflict (1955-1972 and 1983-2005) in which perhaps 2.5 million people died - mostly civilians - due to starvation and drought. Ongoing peace talks finally resulted in a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in January 2005. As part of this agreement, the south was granted a six-year period of autonomy to be followed by a referendum on final status. The result of this referendum, held in January 2011, was a vote of 98% in favor of secession.

Since independence on 9 July 2011, South Sudan has struggled with good governance and nation building and has attempted to control opposition forces operating in its territory. Economic conditions have deteriorated since January 2012 when the government decided to shut down oil production following bilateral disagreements with Sudan. In December 2013, conflict between government and opposition forces killed tens of thousands and led to a dire humanitarian crisis with millions of South Sudanese displaced and food insecure. The warring parties signed a peace agreement in August 2015 that created a transitional government of national unity in April 2016. However, in July 2016, fighting broke out in Juba between the two principal signatories, plunging the country back into conflict. A "revitalized" peace agreement was signed in September 2018 ending the fighting. Under the agreement, the government and various rebel groups agreed that the sides would form a unified national army and create a transitional government by May 2019. The agreement was extended until November 2019 and then subsequently to February 2020. However, implementation has been stalled, in part by a failure to agree on the country's internal political boundaries.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



East-Central Africa; south of Sudan, north of Uganda and Kenya, west of Ethiopia

Geographic coordinates

8 00 N, 30 00 E


total: 644,329 sq km

land: NA

water: NA

country comparison to the world: 44

Area - comparative

more than four times the size of Georgia; slightly smaller than Texas

<p>more than four times the size of Georgia; slightly smaller than Texas</p>

Land boundaries

total: 6,018 km

border countries (6): Central African Republic 1055 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 714 km, Ethiopia 1299 km, Kenya 317 km, Sudan 2158 km, Uganda 475 km

note: South Sudan-Sudan boundary represents 1 January 1956 alignment; final alignment pending negotiations and demarcation; final sovereignty status of Abyei Area pending negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


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


plains in the north and center rise to southern highlands along the border with Uganda and Kenya; the White Nile, flowing north out of the uplands of Central Africa, is the major geographic feature of the country; The Sudd (a name derived from floating vegetation that hinders navigation) is a large swampy area of more than 100,000 sq km fed by the waters of the White Nile that dominates the center of the country


highest point: Kinyeti 3,187 m

lowest point: White Nile 381 m

Natural resources

hydropower, fertile agricultural land, gold, diamonds, petroleum, hardwoods, limestone, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver

Land use

agricultural land: 45% (2018)

arable land: 4.4% (2018)

permanent pasture: 40.7% (2018)

forest: 11.3% (2018)

other: 43.5% (2018)

Irrigated land

1,000 sq km (2012)

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km), (Mediterranean Sea) Nile (3,254,853 sq km)

Population distribution

clusters found in urban areas, particularly in the western interior and around the White Nile as shown in this population distribution map

Geography - note

landlocked; The Sudd is a vast swamp in the north central region of South Sudan, formed by the White Nile, its size is variable but can reach some 15% of the country's total area during the rainy season; it is one of the world's largest wetlands

People and Society


noun: South Sudanese (singular and plural)

adjective: South Sudanese

Ethnic groups

Dinka (Jieng) 35.8%, Nuer (Naath) 15.6%, Shilluk (Chollo), Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona, Acholi, Baka, Fertit (2011 est.)


English (official), Arabic (includes Juba and Sudanese variants), regional languages include Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande, Shilluk

major-language sample(s):
The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information. (English)

كتاب حقائق العالم، المصدر الذي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه للمعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

Arabic audio sample:


animist, Christian, Muslim

Demographic profile

South Sudan, independent from Sudan since July 2011 after decades of civil war, is one of the world’s poorest countries and ranks among the lowest in many socioeconomic categories. Problems are exacerbated by ongoing tensions with Sudan over oil revenues and land borders, fighting between government forces and rebel groups, and inter-communal violence. Most of the population lives off of farming, while smaller numbers rely on animal husbandry; more than 80% of the populace lives in rural areas. The maternal mortality rate is among the world’s highest for a variety of reasons, including a shortage of health care workers, facilities, and supplies; poor roads and a lack of transport; and cultural beliefs that prevent women from seeking obstetric care. Most women marry and start having children early, giving birth at home with the assistance of traditional birth attendants, who are unable to handle complications.

Educational attainment is extremely poor due to the lack of schools, qualified teachers, and materials. Less than a third of the population is literate (the rate is even lower among women), and half live below the poverty line. Teachers and students are also struggling with the switch from Arabic to English as the language of instruction. Many adults missed out on schooling because of warfare and displacement.

Almost 2 million South Sudanese have sought refuge in neighboring countries since the current conflict began in December 2013. Another 1.96 million South Sudanese are internally displaced as of August 2017. Despite South Sudan’s instability and lack of infrastructure and social services, more than 240,000 people have fled to South Sudan to escape fighting in Sudan.

Age structure

0-14 years: 41.58% (male 2,238,534/female 2,152,685)

15-24 years: 21.28% (male 1,153,108/female 1,094,568)

25-54 years: 30.67% (male 1,662,409/female 1,577,062)

55-64 years: 3.93% (male 228,875/female 186,571)

65 years and over: 2.53% (male 153,502/female 113,930) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for South Sudan. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 80.8

youth dependency ratio: 74.7

elderly dependency ratio: 6.1

potential support ratio: 16.5 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 18.6 years

male: 18.9 years

female: 18.3 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 208

Birth rate

38.26 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Death rate

9.84 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

Net migration rate

22.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 2

Population distribution

clusters found in urban areas, particularly in the western interior and around the White Nile as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 20.5% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 4.12% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

421,000 JUBA (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.23 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.35 male(s)/female

total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

1,150 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 1

Infant mortality rate

total: 64.77 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 70.75 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 58.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 58.6 years

male: 56.92 years

female: 60.36 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 223

Total fertility rate

5.43 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 85.2% of population

rural: 71.7% of population

total: 74.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 14.8% of population

rural: 28.3% of population

total: 25.7% of population (2017 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 54.1% of population

rural: 10.7% of population

total: 19.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 45.9% of population

rural: 89.3% of population

total: 80.9% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, Trypanosomiasis-Gambiense (African sleeping sickness)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 34.5%

male: 40.3%

female: 28.9% (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 38.6%

male: 39.5%

female: 37.4% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 12


Environment - current issues

water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; wildlife conservation and loss of biodiversity; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; periodic drought

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 41.12 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.73 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 7.61 megatons (2020 est.)


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

Land use

agricultural land: 45% (2018)

arable land: 4.4% (2018)

permanent pasture: 40.7% (2018)

forest: 11.3% (2018)

other: 43.5% (2018)


urban population: 20.5% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 4.12% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, Trypanosomiasis-Gambiense (African sleeping sickness)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis

Food insecurity

widespread lack of access: due to economic downturn, civil insecurity, lingering impact of floods and prolonged conflict - despite sustained humanitarian assistance, food insecurity still affects large segments of the population, driven by insufficient food supplies, an economic downturn, high food prices and the lingering impact of widespread floods in 2020; about 7.2 million people (about 60% of the total population) are estimated to be severely food insecure in the April−July 2021 period; particular concern exists for households in Jonglei, Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal and Warrap states and in neighboring Pibor Administrative Area, where 60-85% of the  population is estimated to be severely food insecure, with a total of 108,000 people facing “Catastrophe” levels of food insecurity (2021)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 2,680,681 tons (2013 est.)

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km), (Mediterranean Sea) Nile (3,254,853 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 193 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 225 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 240 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

49.5 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of South Sudan

conventional short form: South Sudan

etymology: self-descriptive name from the country's former position within Sudan prior to independence; the name "Sudan" derives from the Arabic "bilad-as-sudan" meaning "Land of the Black [peoples]"

Government type

presidential republic


name: Juba

geographic coordinates: 04 51 N, 31 37 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name derives from Djouba, another name for the Bari people of South Sudan

Administrative divisions

10 states; Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, Upper Nile, Warrap, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Western Equatoria; note - in 2015, the creation of 28 new states was announced and in 2017 four additional; following the February 2020 peace agreement, the country was reportedly again reorganized into the 10 original states, plus 2 administrative areas, Pibor and Ruweng, and 1 special administrative status area, Abyei; this latest administrative revision has not yet been vetted by the US Board on Geographic Names


9 July 2011 (from Sudan)

National holiday

Independence Day, 9 July (2011)


history: previous 2005 (preindependence); latest signed 7 July 2011, effective 9 July 2011 (Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011)

amendments: proposed by the National Legislature or by the president of the republic; passage requires submission of the proposal to the Legislature at least one month prior to consideration, approval by at least two-thirds majority vote in both houses of the Legislature, and assent of the president; amended 2013, 2015, 2018 (2021)


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of South Sudan

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Salva KIIR Mayardit (since 9 July 2011); First Vice President Riek MACHAR Teny Dhurgon (since 22 February 2020); Vice President James Wani IGGA (since 26 April 2016); Vice President TABAN Deng Gai (since 22 February 2020); Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng Chol GARANG de Mabior (since 22 February 2020); Vice President Hussein ABDELBAGI Ayii (since 22 February 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Salva KIIR Mayardit (since 9 July 2011); First Vice President Taban Deng GAI (since 26 July 2016); Vice President James Wani IGGA (since 26 April 2016); Vice President TABAN Deng Gai (since 22 February 2020); Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng Chol GARANG de Mabior (since 22 February 2020); Vice President Hussein ABDELBAGI Ayii (since 22 February 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

cabinet: National Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the Transitional National Legislative Assembly

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 11-15 April 2010 (next election scheduled for 2015 postponed to 2018 and again to 2021)

election results: Salva KIIR Mayardit elected president; percent of vote - Salva KIIR Mayardit (SPLM) 93%, Lam AKOL (SPLM-DC) 7%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Legislature consists of:
Council of States, established by presidential decree in August 2011 (50 seats; 20 former members of the Council of States and 30 appointed representatives)
Transitional National Legislative Assembly, established on 4 August 2016, in accordance with the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (400 seats; 170 members elected in April 2010, 96 members of the former National Assembly, 66 members appointed after independence, and 68 members added as a result of the 2016 Agreement); the TNLA will be expanded to 550 members after the transitional government forms

Council of States - established and members appointed 1 August 2011
National Legislative Assembly - last held 11-15 April 2010 but did not take office until July 2011; current parliamentary term extended until 2021)

election results:
Council of States - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - SPLM 20, unknown 30; composition - men 44, women 6, percent of women 12%
National Legislative Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - SPLM 251, DCP 10, independent 6, unknown 133; composition - men 291, women 109, percent of women 27.3%; note - total National Legislature percent of women 25.6%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court of South Sudan (consists of the chief and deputy chief justices, 9 other justices and normally organized into panels of 3 justices, except when sitting as a Constitutional panel of all 9 justices chaired by the chief justice)

judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the president upon proposal of the Judicial Service Council, a 9-member judicial and administrative body; justice tenure set by the National Legislature

subordinate courts: national level - Courts of Appeal; High Courts; County Courts; state level - High Courts; County Courts; customary courts; other specialized courts and tribunals

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Change or DC [Onyoti Adigo NYIKWEC] (formerly Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Democratic Movement or SPLM-DC)
Sudan People's Liberation Movement or SPLM [Salva KIIR Mayardit]
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition or SPLM-IO [Riek MACHAR Teny Dhurgon]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Philip Jada NATANA (since 17 September 2018)

chancery: 1015 31st Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20007

telephone: [1] (202) 600-2238

FAX: [1] (202) 644-9910

email address and website:

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Deputy Chief of Mission Jon F. DANILOWICZ (since September 2020)

embassy: Kololo Road adjacent to the EU's compound, Juba

mailing address: 4420 Juba Place, Washington DC  20521-4420

telephone: [211] 912-105-188

email address and website:

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green; the red band is edged in white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side contains a gold, five-pointed star; black represents the people of South Sudan, red the blood shed in the struggle for freedom, green the verdant land, and blue the waters of the Nile; the gold star represents the unity of the states making up South Sudan

note: resembles the flag of Kenya; one of only two national flags to display six colors as part of its primary design, the other is South Africa's

National symbol(s)

African fish eagle; national colors: red, green, blue, yellow, black, white

National anthem

name: South Sudan Oyee! (Hooray!)

lyrics/music: collective of 49 poets/Juba University students and teachers

note: adopted 2011; anthem selected in a national contest


Economic overview

Industry and infrastructure in landlocked South Sudan are severely underdeveloped and poverty is widespread, following several decades of civil war with Sudan. Continued fighting within the new nation is disrupting what remains of the economy. The vast majority of the population is dependent on subsistence agriculture and humanitarian assistance. Property rights are insecure and price signals are weak, because markets are not well-organized.

South Sudan has little infrastructure – about 10,000 kilometers of roads, but just 2% of them paved. Electricity is produced mostly by costly diesel generators, and indoor plumbing and potable water are scarce, so less than 2% of the population has access to electricity. About 90% of consumed goods, capital, and services are imported from neighboring countries – mainly Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. Chinese investment plays a growing role in the infrastructure and energy sectors.

Nevertheless, South Sudan does have abundant natural resources. South Sudan holds one of the richest agricultural areas in Africa, with fertile soils and abundant water supplies. Currently the region supports 10-20 million head of cattle. At independence in 2011, South Sudan produced nearly three-fourths of former Sudan's total oil output of nearly a half million barrels per day. The Government of South Sudan relies on oil for the vast majority of its budget revenues, although oil production has fallen sharply since independence. South Sudan is one of the most oil-dependent countries in the world, with 98% of the government’s annual operating budget and 80% of its gross domestic product (GDP) derived from oil. Oil is exported through a pipeline that runs to refineries and shipping facilities at Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The economy of South Sudan will remain linked to Sudan for some time, given the existing oil infrastructure. The outbreak of conflict in December 2013, combined with falling crude oil production and prices, meant that GDP fell significantly between 2014 and 2017. Since the second half of 2017 oil production has risen, and is currently about 130,000 barrels per day.

Poverty and food insecurity has risen due to displacement of people caused by the conflict. With famine spreading, 66% of the population in South Sudan is living on less than about $2 a day, up from 50.6% in 2009, according to the World Bank. About 80% of the population lives in rural areas, with agriculture, forestry and fishing providing the livelihood for a majority of the households. Much of rural sector activity is focused on low-input, low-output subsistence agriculture.

South Sudan is burdened by considerable debt because of increased military spending and high levels of government corruption. Economic mismanagement is prevalent. Civil servants, including police and the military, are not paid on time, creating incentives to engage in looting and banditry. South Sudan has received more than $11 billion in foreign aid since 2005, largely from the US, the UK, and the EU. Inflation peaked at over 800% per year in October 2016 but dropped to 118% in 2017. The government has funded its expenditures by borrowing from the central bank and foreign sources, using forward sales of oil as collateral. The central bank’s decision to adopt a managed floating exchange rate regime in December 2015 triggered a 97% depreciation of the currency and spawned a growing black market.

Long-term challenges include rooting out public sector corruption, improving agricultural productivity, alleviating poverty and unemployment, improving fiscal transparency - particularly in regard to oil revenues, taming inflation, improving government revenues, and creating a rules-based business environment.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$20.01 billion (2017 est.)

$21.1 billion (2016 est.)

$24.52 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 151

Real GDP growth rate

-5.2% (2017 est.)

-13.9% (2016 est.)

-0.2% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 218

Real GDP per capita

$1,600 (2017 est.)

$1,700 (2016 est.)

$2,100 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 219

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.06 billion (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 34.9% (2011 est.)

government consumption: 17.1% (2011 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 10.4% (2011 est.)

exports of goods and services: 64.9% (2011 est.)

imports of goods and services: -27.2% (2011 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, sorghum, vegetables, cassava, goat milk, fruit, beef, sesame seed, sheep milk, mutton


revenues: 259.6 million (FY2017/18 est.)

expenditures: 298.6 million (FY2017/18 est.)

Public debt

62.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

86.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Current account balance

-$154 million (2017 est.)

$39 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 94


$3.01 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$3.09 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 145

Exports - partners

China 88%, United Arab Emirates 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, gold, forage crops, lumber, insect resins (2019)


$3.07 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$3.57 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 158

Imports - partners

United Arab Emirates 37%, Kenya 18%, China 18% (2019)

Imports - commodities

cars, delivery trucks, packaged medicines, foodstuffs, clothing and apparel (2019)

Exchange rates

South Sudanese pounds (SSP) per US dollar -

0.885 (2017 est.)

0.903 (2016 est.)

0.9214 (2015 est.)

0.885 (2014 est.)

0.7634 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 28.2% (2018)

electrification - urban areas: 46.8% (2018)

electrification - rural areas: 23.6% (2018)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 18


Telephones - fixed lines

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 2,221,967

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21.61 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 146

Telecommunication systems

general assessment:

landlocked and war-torn with little infrastructure and electricity, Sudan has one of the least developed telecom and Internet systems in the world and one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa; instability, widespread poverty, and low literacy rate all contribute to a struggling telecom sector; due to revenue losses, the few carriers in the market have reduced the areas in which they offer service; the government recognizes positive effects of ICT on development and is providing a range of investment incentives; international community provided billions in aid to help the young country; Chinese investment plays a growing role in the infrastructure build-out and energy sectors; by 2020, one operator had initiated e-money service; international fiber cable link from Juba to Mombasa will drive down costs of Internet; government utilizes unchecked power to conduct surveillance and monitor communications; importer of broadcasting equipment from China (2021)


domestic: fixed-line less than 1 per 100 subscriptions, mobile-cellular 33 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 211 (2017)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

a single TV channel and a radio station are controlled by the government; several community and commercial FM stations are operational, mostly sponsored by outside aid donors; some foreign radio broadcasts are available


Internet users

total: 814,326

percent of population: 7.98% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 143

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 200

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 201


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 2

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2020)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 84

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 12

914 to 1,523 m: 38

under 914 m: 33 (2020)


3 (2020)


total: 248 km (2018)

note: a narrow gauge, single-track railroad between Babonosa (Sudan) and Wau, the only existing rail system, was repaired in 2010 with $250 million in UN funds, but is not currently operational

country comparison to the world: 126


total: 90,200 km (2019)

paved: 300 km (2019)

unpaved: 89,900 km (2019)

note: most of the road network is unpaved and much of it is in disrepair

country comparison to the world: 55


see entry for Sudan

Military and Security

Military and security forces

South Sudan People’s Defence Force (SSPDF): Ground Force (includes Presidential Guard), Air Force, Air Defense Forces (2021)

Military expenditures

2.3% of GDP (2020 est.)

3.5% of GDP (2019 est.)

3.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

2.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

4.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 43

Military and security service personnel strengths

the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) has an estimated 150-200,000 active personnel, mostly ground forces with small contingents of air and riverine forces (2021)

note - some active SSPDF personnel may be militia

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the SSPDF inventory is primarily of Soviet origin; from 2010 to 2015, Russia and the United Arab Emirates were the leading suppliers of arms and equipment; South Sudan has been under a UN arms embargo since 2018 (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for compulsory and voluntary military service; the Government of South Sudan signed agreements in March 2012 and August 2015 that included the demobilization of all child soldiers within the armed forces and opposition, but the recruitment of child soldiers by the warring parties continues; as of July 2019, UNICEF estimated that more than 19,000 child soldiers had been used in the country's civil war since it began in December 2013 (2019)

Military - note

the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF), formerly the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), was founded as a guerrilla movement against the Sudanese Government in 1983 and participated in the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005); the Juba Declaration that followed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 unified the SPLA and the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF), the second-largest rebel militia remaining from the civil war, under the SPLA name; in 2017, the SPLA was renamed the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF) and in September 2018 was renamed again as the SSPDF

under the September 2018 peace agreement, all armed groups in South Sudan were to assemble at designated sites where fighters could be either disarmed and demobilized, or integrated into unified military and police forces; the unified forces were then to be retrained and deployed prior to the formation of a national unity government; all fighters were ordered to these sites in July 2019; some progress toward merging the various armed forces into a national army has been made; for example, in May 2020, South Sudan announced that it was graduating some unified forces at various training centers across the country, and in June the SSPDF incorporated some senior officers from the main opposition force, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement Army - in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) into its rank structure; nevertheless, overall progress has been slow, and as of early 2021 armed clashes continued to occur between government forces and armed militant groups in several states

the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has operated in the country since 2011 with the objectives of consolidating peace and security and helping establish conditions for the successful economic and political development of South Sudan; UNMISS had about 18,300 personnel, including about 14,000 troops, deployed in the country as of August 2021

United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has operated in the disputed Abyei region along the border between Sudan and South Sudan since 2011; UNISFA's mission includes ensuring security, protecting civilians, strengthening the capacity of the Abyei Police Service, de-mining, monitoring/verifying the redeployment of armed forces from the area, and facilitating the flow of humanitarian aid; as of July 2021, UNISFA had some 3,800 personnel deployed

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

South Sudan-Sudan boundary represents 1 January 1956 alignment, final alignment pending negotiations and demarcation; final sovereignty status of Abyei Area pending negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan; periodic violent skirmishes with South Sudanese residents over water and grazing rights persist among related pastoral populations along the border with the Central African Republic; the boundary that separates Kenya and South Sudan's sovereignty is unclear in the "Ilemi Triangle," which Kenya has administered since colonial times

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 296,762 (Sudan), 16,985 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (2021)

IDPs: 1,436,000 (alleged coup attempt and ethnic conflict beginning in December 2013; information is lacking on those displaced in earlier years by: fighting in Abyei between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in May 2011; clashes between the SPLA and dissident militia groups in South Sudan; inter-ethnic conflicts over resources and cattle; attacks from the Lord's Resistance Army; floods and drought) (2020)

stateless persons: 10,000 (2020)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: South Sudan is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; South Sudanese women and girls, particularly those who are internally displaced or from rural areas, are vulnerable to forced labor and sexual exploitation in urban centers; the rising number of street children and child laborers are also exploited for forced labor and prostitution; women and girls from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Democratic Republic of the Congo are trafficked to South Sudan with promises of legitimate jobs and are forced into the sex trade; inter-ethnic abductions continue between some communities in South Sudan; government forces use children to fight and perpetrate violence against other children and civilians, to serve as scouts, escorts, cooks, and cleaners, and to carry heavy loads while on the move

tier rating:

Tier 3 — South Sudan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so: the government’s efforts include forming and staffing an anti-trafficking inter-ministerial task force, releasing 286 child soldiers, and identifying 19 potential trafficking victims; however, the recruitment of child soldiers by security and law enforcement continues and neither was held criminally responsible; authorities did not investigate or prosecute forced labor or sex trafficking crimes and made no effort to identify and protect trafficking victims; authorities continued to arrest and imprison child sex trafficking victims without screening for indicators of trafficking (2020)