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.
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Introduction

Background

South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011, is the world’s newest country. Home to a diverse array of mainly Nilotic ethnolinguistic groups that settled in the territory in the 15th through 19th centuries, South Sudanese society is heavily dependent on seasonal fluctuations in precipitation and seasonal migration. The land comprising modern-day South Sudan was conquered first by Egypt and later ruled jointly by Egyptian-British colonial administrators in the late 19th century. Christian missionaries propagated the spread of English and Christianity, rather than Arabic and Islam, leading to significant cultural differences between the northern and southern parts of Sudan. When Sudan gained its independence in 1956, the Southern region received assurances that it would participate fully in the political system. However, the Arab government in Khartoum reneged on its promises, prompting two periods of civil war (1955-1972 and 1983-2005) in which as many as 2.5 million people died - mostly civilians - due to starvation and drought. The Second Sudanese civil war was one of the deadliest since WWII, and left Southern Sudanese society devastated by humanitarian crises and economic deterioration. Peace talks resulted in a US-backed Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in January 2005, which granted the South a six-year period of autonomy 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, South Sudan has struggled to form a viable governing system and has been plagued by widespread corruption, political conflict, and communal violence. In December 2013, conflict erupted between forces loyal to President Salva KIIR, a Dinka, and forces loyal to Vice President Riek MACHAR, a Nuer. The conflict quickly spread throughout the country and unfolded along ethnic lines, killing tens of thousands and creating a dire humanitarian crisis, with millions of South Sudanese displaced and food insecure. KIIR and MACHAR signed a peace agreement in August 2015 that created a Transitional Government of National Unity in April 2016. However, in July 2016, renewed fighting broke out in Juba between KIIR and MACHAR’s forces, plunging the country back into conflict and drawing in additional armed opposition groups, including those in the southern Equatoria region that had largely stayed out of the first round of civil war. A "revitalized" peace agreement was signed in September 2018, which mostly ended the fighting. The government and most armed opposition groups agreed that they would form a unified national army, create a transitional government by May 2019, and prepare for elections in December 2022. Subsequent extensions pushed elections to late 2023, and the transitional government was formed in February 2020, when MACHAR returned to Juba as first vice president. Since 2020, implementation of the peace agreement has been stalled as the parties wrangle over power-sharing arrangements, contributing to an uptick in communal violence and the country’s worst food security crisis since independence, with 7 of 11 million South Sudanese citizens in need of humanitarian assistance.

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

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

8 00 N, 30 00 E

Area

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

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 6,018 km

border countries (6): Central African Republic 1,055 km; Democratic Republic of the Congo 714 km; Ethiopia 1,299 km; Kenya 317 km; Sudan 2,158 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

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

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

Terrain

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

Elevation

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 rivers (by length in km)

Nile (shared with Rwanda [s], Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt [m]) - 6,650 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

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

Map description

South Sudan map showing major population centers as well as parts of surrounding countries.

People and Society

Nationality

noun: South Sudanese (singular and plural)

adjective: South Sudanese

Ethnic groups

Dinka (Jieng) approximately 35-40%, Nuer (Naath) approximately 15%, Shilluk (Chollo), Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona, Acholi, Baka, Fertit (2011 est.)

note: Figures are estimations due to population changes during South Sudan's civil war and the lack of updated demographic studies

Languages

English (official), Arabic (includes Juba and Sudanese variants), ethnic 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:

Religions

Christian 60.5%, folk religion 32.9%, Muslim 6.2%, other <1%, unaffiliated <1% (2020 est.)

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% (2020 est.) (male 153,502/female 113,930)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

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

37.69 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 9

Death rate

9.52 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 46

Net migration rate

20.97 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 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

Urbanization

urban population: 20.8% of total population (2022)

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

Major urban areas - population

440,000 JUBA (capital) (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

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

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.19 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.28 male(s)/female

total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

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

country comparison to the world: 1

Infant mortality rate

total: 63.18 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 69.06 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 57 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 59.16 years

male: 57.43 years

female: 60.97 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 221

Total fertility rate

5.32 children born/woman (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 88.7% of population

rural: 75.8% of population

total: 78.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 11.3% of population

rural: 24.2% of population

total: 21.6% of population (2020 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 60.6% of population

rural: 15.5% of population

total: 24.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 39.4% of population

rural: 84.5% of population

total: 75.4% of population (2020 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

note: on 21 March 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; South Sudan is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Literacy

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.)

Environment

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.)

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

Land use

agricultural land: 45% (2018)

arable land: 4.4% (2018)

permanent pasture: 40.7% (2018)

forest: 11.3% (2018)

other: 43.5% (2018)

Urbanization

urban population: 20.8% of total population (2022)

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

note: on 21 March 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; South Sudan is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

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 macroeconomic challenges that have resulted in rampant food and non-food inflation, insufficient food supplies due to a stagnant agricultural production, livelihood losses owing to consecutive years with widespread floods and the escalation of organized violence at the sub-national level since 2020; about 7.74 million people, approximately 63% of the total population, are estimated to be severely food insecure during the lean season between April and July 2022 (2022)

Waste and recycling

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

Major rivers (by length in km)

Nile (shared with Rwanda [s], Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt [m]) - 6,650 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

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.)

Government

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

Capital

name: Juba

geographic coordinates: 04 51 N, 31 37 E

time difference: UTC+2 (8 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 states; 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 (which is disputed between South Sudan and Sudan); this latest administrative revision has not yet been vetted by the US Board on Geographic Names

Independence

9 July 2011 (from Sudan)

National holiday

Independence Day, 9 July (2011)

Constitution

history: previous 2005 (preindependence); latest signed 7 July 2011, effective 9 July 2011 (Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011); note - new constitution pending establishment under the 2018 peace agreement

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

Citizenship

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

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Salva KIIR Mayardit (since 9 July 2011); Vice Presidents TABAN Deng Gai, Riek MACHAR Teny Dhurgon, James Wani IGGA, Rebecca Nyandeng Chol GARANG de Mabior, Hussein ABDELBAGI Ayii (since 22 February 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government; TABAN served as First Vice President from 23 July 2016 to February 2020

head of government: President Salva KIIR Mayardit (since 9 July 2011); Vice Presidents TABAN Deng Gai, Riek MACHAR Teny Dhurgon, James Wani IGGA, Rebecca Nyandeng Chol GARANG de Mabior, Hussein ABDELBAGI Ayii (since 22 February 2020); note - TABAN served as First Vice President from 23 July 2016 to February 2020

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 but postponed to 2018, then 2021, and again to 2023)

election results: 2010: Salva KIIR Mayardit elected leader of then-Southern Sudan in 2010; percent of vote - Salva KIIR Mayardit (SPLM) 93%, Lam AKOL (SPLM-DC) 7%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Legislature consists of:
Council of States, pending establishment as stipulated by the 2018 peace deal
Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), established on 4 August 2016, in accordance with the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan; note - originally 400 seats; the TNLA was expanded to 550 members from 400 and reestablished in May 2020 under the 2018 peace agreement

elections: Council of States - pending establishment as stipulated by the 2018 peace deal
Transitional National Legislative Assembly - 550 members; percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - 332 SPLM, 128 SPLM-IO, 90 other political parties; composition - NA

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 - pending formation (will likely consist of a chief and deputy chief justices as well as 9 other justices)

judge selection and term of office: justices will be appointed by the president upon proposal of the pending Judicial Service Council, likely consisting of a 9-member judicial and administrative body; justice tenure to be 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

Sudan People's Liberation Movement or SPLM [Salva KIIR Mayardit]
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Former Detainees [Rebecca Nyandeng Chol GARANG de Mabior]
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition or SPLM-IO [Riek MACHAR Teny Dhurgon]
South Sudan Opposition Alliance or SSOA [Hussein ABDELBAGI Ayii]

International organization participation

AU, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOM, IPU, ITU, MIGA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WMO

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:
info.ssdembassy@gmail.com

https://www.southsudanembassyusa.org/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires William FLENS (since 4 June 2022)


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:
ACSJuba@state.gov

https://ss.usembassy.gov/

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

Economy

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: 150

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

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 38.6%

male: 39.5%

female: 37.4% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 15

Budget

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

Exports

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

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

country comparison to the world: 144

Exports - partners

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

Exports - commodities

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

Imports

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

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

country comparison to the world: 157

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.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 28.2% (2018)

electrification - urban areas: 46.8% (2018)

electrification - rural areas: 23.6% (2018)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 121,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 531.66 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 26 million kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 99.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 157,100 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 12,900 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 126,500 barrels/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 barrels/day (2018 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

1.778 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 1.778 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 161

Communications

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 2,221,970 (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20.09 (2019)

country comparison to the world: 146

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Following a referendum, oil-rich South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 and became an independent nation; having been deprived of investment for decades, it inherited one of the least developed telecom markets in the world; there was once investment activity among mobile network operators who sought to expand their networks in some areas of the country, but by late 2016 both Zain South Sudan and MTN South Sudan had cut back their work forces in a bid to save on operating costs, while their falling subscriber bases have strained revenue; Zain South Sudan in particular recorded considerable financial losses in 2015 and 2016; operators in the telecom sector placed themselves in survival mode and are hoping for a political settlement and a return to some degree of social stability; MTN as reported its financial data on the basis of South Sudan’s economy having been hyper inflationary since 2016; although MTN and Zain reported a significant fall in the number of mobile subscribers in 2017, with a consequent severe decline in revenue, both saw subscriber bases increase in 2018 as they absorbed customers which had migrated from VivaCell after that company was closed down for failing to pay back taxes; MTN South Sudan reported a 26.5% increase in the number of mobile subscribers in the year to September 2021; South Sudan has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa; growth in the sector in coming years is premised on a resolution to the political crisis and a recovery of the country’s economy; the virtually untapped internet and broadband market also depends to a large extent on the country gaining access to international fiber cables and on a national backbone network being in place; sophisticated infrastructure solutions are needed to reach the 80% of the population that live outside of the main urban centers; with a negligible rate of bank account ownership, mobile payment and banking solutions also have a strong potential once a reliable mobile infrastructure is built; some improvement has followed from the cable link completed by Liquid Telecom in February 2020 which connects Juba directly to the company’s submarine landing station at Mombasa; the cable was South Sudan’s first direct international fiber link, and has helped drive down the price of retail internet services for residential and business customers; a second cable linking to the border with Kenya was completed in December 2021. (2022)

domestic: fixed-line less than 1 per 100 subscriptions, mobile-cellular roughly 20 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 a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress towards 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

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

(2019)

Internet users

total: 783,561 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 7% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

Transportation

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 (2021)

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 (2021)

Heliports

3 (2021)

Railways

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

Roadways

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; the Juba-Nimule highway connecting Juba to the border with Uganda is the main paved road in South Sudan 

country comparison to the world: 54

Waterways

see entry for Sudan

Military and Security

Military and security forces

South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF): Ground Force (includes Presidential Guard, aka Tiger Division), Air Force, Air Defense Forces; National (or Necessary) Unified Forces (NUF) (2022)

note 1: the NUF are being formed by retraining rebel and pro-government fighters into military, police, and other government security forces; in August 2022, South Sudan held the first graduation ceremony for retrained personnel

note 2:
 numerous irregular forces operate in the country with official knowledge, including militias operated by the National Security Service (an internal security force under the Ministry of National Security) and proxy forces

Military expenditures

2% of GDP (2021 est.)

2% of GDP (2020 est.)

3.1% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $1.62 billion)

3.2% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $1.54 billion)

2.1% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $660 million)

country comparison to the world: 63

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimated 150-200,000 active personnel, mostly ground forces with small contingents of air and riverine forces (2022)

note: some active SSPDF personnel may be militia; the National/Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) will have about 50-80,000 troops from the SSPDF and armed opposition groups when it is formed; as of August 2022, approximately 20,000 NUF had been trained

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the SSPDF inventory is primarily of Soviet origin; South Sudan has been under a UN arms embargo since 2018 (2022)

Military service age and obligation

18 is the legal minimum age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscription only for men; women may volunteer; 12-24 months service (2022)

note: in 2019, women made up less than 10% of the active military

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

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 15,000 personnel deployed in the country as of mid-2022

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 mid-2022, UNISFA had approximately 2,000 personnel deployed

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

South Sudan- Central African Republic: periodic violent skirmishes persist among related pastoral populations along the border with the Central African Republic over water and grazing rights

South Sudan-Democratic Republic of the Congo: none identified

South Sudan-Ethiopia: the unresolved demarcation of the boundary and lack of clear limitation create substantial room for territorial conflict both locally among the border populations and between the two capitals; besides a large number of indigenous farmers, the border region supports refugees and various rebel groups opposed to the governments in Khartoum and Addis Ababa


South Sudan-Kenya: the boundary that separates Kenya and South Sudan's sovereignty is unclear in the Ilemi Triangle has been unclear since British colonial times; Kenya has administered the area since colonial times

South Sudan-Sudan: present boundary represents 1 January 1956 alignment, which clearly placed the Kafia Kingi area (adjacent to Central African Republic) within South Sudan as shown on US maps although it is mostly occupied by Sudan; final alignment pending negotiations and demarcation; the final sovereignty status of Abyei Area pending negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan; clashes continue in the oil-rich Abyei region; the United Nations interim security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has been deployed since 2011, when South Sudan became independent, Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting Sudanese rebel groups

South Sudan-Uganda: Lord’s Resistance Army operations in western Equatorial State displace and drive out local populations and steal grain stores

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 309,849 (Sudan), 19,452 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (2022)

IDPs: 2,017,236 (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) (2022)

stateless persons: 10,000 (mid-year 2021)

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)