Friday, September 8, 2023
South Sudan Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

South Sudan

travel guide

Egypt conquered the lands of current South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan under the Muhammad Ali Dynasty, and the areas were afterwards administered as an Anglo-Egyptian condominium until Sudanese independence was won in 1956. The Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was established in 1972 as a result of the First Sudanese Civil War and lasted until 1983. Soon after, a second Sudanese civil war erupted, which ended with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Later that year, an Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan was created, restoring southern autonomy.

South Sudan gained independence on July 9, 2011, following a referendum that received 98.83 percent of the vote. It is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the East African Community, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. South Sudan ratified the Geneva Conventions on July 2012. South Sudan has experienced internal strife since its independence, and as of 2016, is ranked second on the Fragile States Index (formerly the Failed States Index).

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South Sudan - Info Card




South Sudanese pound (SSP)

Time zone

UTC+2 (Central Africa Time)


644,329 km2 (248,777 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language


South Sudan | Introduction


South Sudan is located between the latitudes of 3° and 13°N and the longitudes of 24° and 36°E. It has tropical forest, wetlands, and grassland. The White Nile runs across the nation, stopping in Juba.


South Sudan has a climate that is comparable to that of an Equatorial or tropical climate, with a wet season marked by high humidity and significant quantities of rainfall followed by a dry season. The average temperature is usually high, with July being the coldest month with temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 °C (68 to 86 °F) and March being the hottest month with temperatures ranging from 23 to 37 °C (73 to 98 °F).

The rainiest months are May and October, although the rainy season may begin in April and last until November. May is the wettest month on average. The season is “affected by the yearly shift of the Inter-Tropical Zone” and the change to southerly and southwesterly winds, which results in somewhat lower temperatures, greater humidity, and increased cloud coverage.


South Sudan has a population of 8 to 10 million people (the precise number is debatable) with a mainly rural, subsistence economy. Since 1956, this area has been adversely impacted by conflict in all but ten years, resulting in chronic neglect, a lack of infrastructure development, and significant damage and displacement. As a consequence of the civil war and its aftermath, more than 2 million people have perished, and more than 4 million have been internally displaced or have become refugees.

Ethnic groups

South Sudan’s main ethnic groups include the Dinka, who number over one million people (about 15% of the total population), the Nuer (roughly 10%), the Bari, and the Azande. The Shilluk are a historically important polity along the White Nile, and their language is linked to Dinka and Nuer. Shilluk and Northeastern Dinka traditional areas are nearby.


Traditional indigenous faiths, Christianity, and Islam are among the religions practiced by South Sudanese. The most recent census to include southerners’ religion goes back to 1956, when the majority were categorized as following traditional beliefs or being Christian, while 18 percent were Muslim. According to scholarly and US Department of State sources, the majority of southern Sudanese adhere to traditional indigenous (sometimes referred to as animist) beliefs, with Christians constituting a minority (albeit an influential minority), making South Sudan a country where the majority of people adhere to traditional indigenous religion. However, the majority of the population adheres to Christianity, according to the United States State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report of 2012, but accurate data on animist and Muslim belief are unavailable.

According to the US Library of Congress’ Federal Research Division, “in the early 1990s, probably little more than 10% of southern Sudan’s population was Christian.” In the early 1990s, official Sudanese statistics said that 25% of the population of what was then known as South Sudan practiced traditional faiths and 5% were Christians. However, according to certain news sources, there is a Christian majority, and the US Episcopal Church claims a significant number of Anglican followers from the Episcopal Church of Sudan: 2 million members in 2005.

Similarly, the Catholic Church has been the biggest single Christian entity in Sudan since 1995, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, with 2.7 million Catholics mostly concentrated in South Sudan. According to a Pew Research Center study on religion and public life published on December 18, 2012, in 2010, 60.5 percent of South Sudan’s population was Christian, 32.9 percent practiced traditional African religions, and 6.2 percent were Muslim.

Sudan’s Presbyterian Church is the third biggest denomination in the country. It has about 1,000,000 members spread over 500 congregations. Some publications characterized the pre-partition battles as a Muslim-Christian war, while others disagree, saying that Muslim and Christian forces occasionally overlapped.

South Sudanese President Kiir, a Roman Catholic, said at Saint Theresa Cathedral in Juba that his country will protect religious freedom. The majority of Christians are Catholic and Anglican, but other faiths are active, and animist ideas are often mixed with Christian beliefs.


Bandingilo National Park in South Sudan is home to the world’s second-largest animal migration. Large concentrations of hartebeest, kob, topi, buffalo, elephants, giraffes, and lions have been found in Boma National Park, west of the Ethiopian border, as well as the Sudd wetland and Southern National Park near the Congo border.

The forest reserves of South Sudan also offered home for bongo, giant forest pigs, red river hogs, forest elephants, chimps, and forest monkeys. WCS surveys, which began in 2005 in collaboration with the semi-autonomous government of Southern Sudan, showed that considerable, though reduced, animal populations still persist, and that, surprisingly, the massive movement of 1.3 million antelopes in the southeast remains mostly intact.

Grasslands, high-altitude plateaus and escarpments, forested and grassy savannas, floodplains, and wetlands are among the habitats found in the nation. The indigenous white-eared kob and Nile Lechwe, as well as elephants, giraffes, common eland, giant eland, oryx, lions, African wild dogs, cape buffalo, and topi, are among the associated animal species (locally called tiang). Little is known about the white-eared kob and tiang, two species of antelope whose mythical migrations preceded the civil war. Boma National Park, wide pasturelands and floodplains, Bandingilo National Park, and the Sudd, a large expanse of marsh and seasonally flooded grasslands that contains the Zeraf Wildlife Reserve, are all part of the Boma-Jonglei Landscape Area.

The fungi of South Sudan are little understood. S.A.J. Tarr compiled a list of fungi in Sudan, which was published in 1955 by the Commonwealth Mycological Institute (Kew, Surrey, UK). The list, which comprised 383 species in 175 genera, includes all fungus discovered within the country’s borders at the time. Many of the documents are about what is now South Sudan. The majority of the species discovered were linked to agricultural problems. The actual number of fungus species in South Sudan is most likely considerably greater.

President Kiir said in 2006 that his administration will do all in its power to preserve and spread South Sudanese wildlife and flora, as well as to mitigate the impacts of wildfires, trash dumping, and water contamination. The growth of the economy and infrastructure endangers the environment.

South Sudan is divided into many ecoregions, including the East Sudanian savanna, the Northern Congolian forest-savanna mosaic, the Saharan flooded grasslands (Sudd), the Sahelian Acacia savanna, the East African montane forests, and the Northern Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets.

Entry Requirements For South Sudan

Visa & Passport

Because South Sudan just recently gained independence, the immigration laws are still subject to modification. They have, however, replaced the previously utilized travel permits with appropriate visas in your passport. Visas cost USD100 and are available at all border checkpoints including Juba International Airport. The duration of the visas seems to fluctuate at random between 1 and 6 months.

Depending on whatever official is at the desk on the day of your arrival, an invitation letter may be needed. The procedure may take up to three hours. If you do not have a local contact with official ties, you should get a visa before entering the nation. Visas are now available for GBP35 in cash at the embassy in London and usually take 3 working days to complete.

How To Travel To South Sudan

By plane

There are no direct commercial flights from outside of Africa at the moment. Most airlines flying into Juba leave from Cairo (Egypt), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Entebbe (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya), and Khartoum (Sudan), from whence you should be able to arrange flights to and from Europe, Asia, or the Americas.

By train

South Sudan has a single railway line that runs from Sudan’s northern border to Wau. There were services between Wau and Babanosa before independence, with train links to Khartoum. However, as of 2014, there are no regular passenger services; fact, the whole Sudanese rail network has ceased operations. However, sporadic and non-scheduled trains may still operate, so contact the Sudan Railways Corporation for additional information.

Culture Of South Sudan

South Sudan’s culture has been significantly impacted by its neighbors as a result of the many years of civil conflict. Many South Sudanese refugees went to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, where they mingled with locals and acquired their languages and cultures. Most of those who stayed in the nation or moved north to Sudan and Egypt were heavily influenced by Arab culture.

Even in exile and diaspora, most South Sudanese value understanding one’s ethnic background, traditional culture, and dialect. Although Juba Arabic and English are the most commonly spoken languages, Swahili is being taught to the people in order to enhance the country’s ties with its East African neighbors.


Many South Sudanese musicians utilize English, Swahili, Arabi Juba, their dialect, or a combination of all of these languages. Popular musicians include Yaba Angelosi, who performs Afro-beat, R&B, and Zouk; Dynamq, who is known for his reggae albums; and Emmanuel Kembe, who performs folk, reggae, and Afro-beat. Emmanuel Jal is a South Sudanese music musician who has achieved worldwide success with his distinct style of Hip Hop and uplifting message in his songs. Jal, a former child soldier turned singer, got positive radio and album reviews in the United Kingdom and has been sought out for the lecture circuit, giving significant speeches at renowned talkfests such as TED.

History Of South Sudan

South Sudan’s Nilotic people—the Acholi, Anyuak, Bari, Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Kaligi (Arabic Feroghe), Zande, and others—arrived in the country before the 10th century. Tribal migrations, mostly from the region of Bahr el Ghazal, transported the Anyuak Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk to their current positions in both the Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile Regions, while the Acholi and Bari settled in Equatoria. The Azande, Mundu, Avukaya, and Baka, who arrived in South Sudan in the 16th century, founded Equatoria Region, the region’s biggest state.

The Dinka are the biggest ethnic group in South Sudan, followed by the Nuer and Azande, with the Bari coming in fourth. They may be found in the Maridi, Yambio, and Tombura districts of Western Equatoria’s tropical rainforest region, as well as the Adio of Azande client in Yei, Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr el Ghazal. The Avungara clan came to prominence over the rest of Azande society in the 18th century, and this dominance lasted until the 20th. Geographical barriers, such as the swamplands along the White Nile, and the British preference for sending Christian missionaries to the southern regions, such as the Closed District Ordinance of 1922 (see History of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan), aided in preventing the spread of Islam to the southerners, allowing them to retain their social and cultural heritage, as well as their political and religious freedom. The main causes are the long history of British policy favoring development of the Arab north while neglecting the Black south. Following Sudan’s first independent elections in 1958, Khartoum’s persistent neglect of the south (lack of schools, roads, and bridges) sparked riots, revolts, and the continent’s longest civil war. Acholi, Anyuak, Azande, Baka, Balanda Bviri, Bari, Boya, Didinga, Dinka, Jiye, Kaligi(Arabic Faroghe), Kuku, Lotuka, Mundari, Murie, Nilotic, Nuer, Shilluk, Toposa, and Zande are among the peoples as of 2012.

Slavery has been a part of Sudanese society for centuries. The slave trade in the south grew in the nineteenth century and persisted even after the British abolished slavery in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Annual Sudanese slave raids into non-Muslim lands resulted in the capture of tens of thousands of southern Sudanese and the devastation of the region’s stability and economy.

Because to their monarch Gbudwe’s expansionist strategy in the 18th century, the Azande have had excellent ties with their neighbors, including the Moru, Mundu, Pöjulu, Avukaya, Baka, and minor tribes in Bahr el Ghazal. To preserve their freedom, the Azande battled the French, Belgians, and Mahdists in the nineteenth century. Egypt, under the reign of Khedive Ismail Pasha, tried to govern the area for the first time in the 1870s, creating the province of Equatoria in the south. Egypt’s first governor, Samuel Baker, was appointed in 1869, and he was succeeded by Charles George Gordon in 1874 and Emin Pasha in 1878.

The fledgling province was destabilized by the Mahdist Revolt of the 1880s, and Equatoria ceased to exist as an Egyptian frontier in 1889. Lado, Gondokoro, Dufile, and Wadelai were all important villages in Equatoria. The Fashoda Incident near present-day Kodok brought European colonial maneuverings in the area to a climax in 1898, when Britain and France almost went to war over the territory. The Rajaf Conference to unite North and South Sudan shattered British aspirations of joining South Sudan with Uganda and leaving Western Equatoria as part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1947.

South Sudan has an estimated population of 8 million people, although due to the absence of a census in many decades, this figure may be greatly inflated. The economy is mostly rural and based on subsistence farming. Around 2005, the economy started to shift away from its rural dominance, and South Sudan’s metropolitan regions have experienced significant growth.

Since Sudan’s independence, the region has been negatively impacted by two civil wars: from 1955 to 1972, the Sudanese government fought the Anyanya rebel army (Anya-Nya is a term in the Madi language that means’snake venom’) during the First Sudanese Civil War, followed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) for over twenty years during the Second Sudanese Civil War. As a consequence, the nation suffered from severe neglect, a lack of infrastructure development, and widespread devastation and relocation. Over 2.5 million people have been murdered, and millions more have fled the nation, both within and beyond the country.

Independence (2011)

A referendum was conducted between the 9th and 15th of January 2011 to decide if South Sudan should become an independent nation and split from Sudan. The vote for independence was won by 98.83 percent of the people. Those residing in the north, as well as expatriates living abroad, voted. South Sudan officially declared independence from Sudan on 9 July, but some issues remained, notably the distribution of oil earnings, since South Sudan holds 75 percent of the former Sudan’s oil reserves. The Abyei area is still contested, and a second vote will be conducted in Abyei to determine whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan. The South Kordofan war began in June 2011 when the Sudanese Army and the SPLA clashed over the Nuba Mountains.

South Sudan is at war, with at least seven armed groups operating in nine of the country’s ten states, and tens of thousands of people displaced. The warriors accuse the government of planning to remain in power forever, of failing to properly represent and assist all ethnic groups, and of ignoring rural development. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony operates across a large region that encompasses South Sudan.

Inter-ethnic fighting is common, and in some instances precedes the struggle for independence. Tribal conflicts in Jonglei erupted in December 2011 between the Nuer White Army of the Lou Nuer and the Murle. The White Army threatened to wipe out the Murle and to attack South Sudanese and UN troops deployed to the Pibor region.

After a battle with Sudanese troops in the South Sudanese state of Unity, South Sudanese forces captured the Heglig oil resources in territories claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan in the province of South Kordofan in March 2012. South Sudan retreated on March 20, and the Sudanese Army took Heglig two days later.

Civil war (2013–present)

In December 2013, President Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, clashed for political authority, with the president accusing Machar and 10 others of plotting a coup. Fighting erupted, sparking the South Sudanese Civil War. Ugandan soldiers were stationed in South Sudan to fight alongside government forces against the rebels. IGAD negotiated a number of ceasefires between the SPLM and the SPLM – in opposition, which were later violated. In August 2015, a peace deal was reached in Ethiopia under the threat of UN sanctions for both parties. Machar returned to Juba and was named vice president in 2016. Machar was removed as vice-president after a second outbreak of violence in Juba, and he left the country.

The conflict is believed to have killed up to 300,000 people, including noteworthy crimes like as the 2014 Bentiu massacre. Despite the fact that both leaders have followers from beyond South Sudan’s ethnic divisions, following combat has been communal, with rebels targeting Kiir’s Dinka ethnic community and government troops assaulting Nuers. As a consequence of the war, more than 1,000,000 people have been internally displaced inside South Sudan, and over 400,000 have fled to neighboring countries, including Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

The administration is supposed to supervise a transition phase leading up to elections in 30 months, which may be a source of future conflict given Machar’s apparent desire to become president and President Salva Kiir’s apparent reluctance to accept it.

Stay Safe & Healthy in South Sudan

Although the degree of violence has decreased since the country’s creation and the conclusion of the civil war, South Sudan remains hazardous for travel due to ceasefire breaches and border disputes. Traveling near the Sudan or Central African Republic borders is very hazardous. Western countries continue to warn against any travel to South Sudan and Sudan’s neighboring areas. Violent crime persists, and explosive ordnance after years of civil conflict endangers people.



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