Population: 11.5 million people.
Half of the population is under 15 years of age.
Their diverse ethnic groups include Dinka 35.8%, Nuer 15.6%, Shilluk, Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona, Acholi
English is the official language, but Juba Arabic (and Sudanese variants) is widely used. The regional languages include Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande, Shilluk.
Many Southern Sudanese are Christian but this can sometimes be mixed with Animistic practices.
South Sudan has been wracked by years of war in their independence struggle from the north, leading to decades with little development. Then as independence loomed, Sudan (the north) forced millions of Southern Sudanese who had been refugees in Khartoum to return to the South, even though there was no infrastructure, housing or jobs for them to return to.
Consequently South Sudan's human statistics are very poor. South Sudan ranks 3rd in the world of population growth rate but is only 18% urbanized. Only 27% of the population is literate!
Alarmingly, South Sudan has the highest maternal death rate in the world: 2,054 deaths/100,000 live births (2006). They are 16th in the world for infant mortality rates. The women there on average have 5.5 children. 33% of children under 5 are underweight.
South Sudan is the newest country in the world, gaining its independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long and bitter independence war in which many died and the country was left devastated and neglected.
However South Sudan has huge potential for growth and development, it is rich in both oil and agriculture. Tension between the 2 major tribes erupted into major inter-ethnic fighting in January 2014. Creating a stable government and helping the various tribes cooperate together to build the nation sits as an almost overwhelming challenge for the nation.
South Sudan is a very Christian country however often these Christians are lacking in discipleship and many mix traditional tribal religious practices with their Christian faith.
South Sudan gained Independence from Sudan in July 2011 and Juba is the capital city – 250 000 people.
The weather is hot with seasonal rainfall.
The White Nile, flowing north from Lake Victoria, is the major geographic feature of the country, supporting agriculture and extensive wild animal populations. 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; it is one of the world's largest wetlands.
When Sudan gained its independence from Britain 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 its final status. The result of this referendum, held in January 2011, was a vote of 98% in favor of secession. Independence was attained on 9 July 2011.
Since independence, South Sudan has struggled with good governance and nation building and has attempted to control rebel militia groups 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 January 2014 inter-tribal fighting broke out that killed many and plunged the country into further insecurity and destruction.
South Sudan has a high risk of infectious diseases including cholera, hepatitis, typhoid fever, malaria, dengue fever, Trypanosomiasis-Gambiense (African sleeping sickness), meningococcal meningitis and rabies.
Following several decades of civil war with Sudan, industry and infrastructure in landlocked South Sudan are severely underdeveloped and poverty is widespread. Subsistence agriculture provides a living for the vast majority of the population. South Sudan has little infrastructure - approximately 250km of paved roads. Electricity is produced predominantly by costly diesel generators and indoor plumbing and potable water are scarce.
South Sudan depends largely on imports of goods, services, and capital - mainly from Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. Nevertheless, South Sudan does have abundant natural resources.
Long Term Opportunities
We have 5 bases in the country but the fighting in January 2014 has affected the operations of some of these bases. There is a desire to pioneer new works in the country.
We are pioneering a new base in the capital city of Juba to be a gateway and sending place for mission into Sudan, South Sudan and other African nations. We are starting with laying foundations of prayer and worship in the young people of the country.
- Worship and intercession
- Evangelism- Muslims, nominal
- Church planting
- Training seminars
- Childrens ministry (KK)
- Youth and sports Ministry – working with schools and street kids
- Mercy Ministry – visiting refugee camps
- Primary and High schools
- Agriculture training
Discipleship Training (DTS)
Other schools planned for the future:
School of Frontier Missions (SoFM)
School of Biblical studies (SBS)
Counselling Schools (FCM)
Because birthdays were not recorded, most peoples' passports show their birthday as1 January.
Only 2 million mobiles are used in the country.
It is one of the youngest countries in the world. Interestingly, the South Sudanese government considered numerous names such as Nile Republic, Azania and Kush Republic. It finally settled for what it thought was the safest choice- the Republic of South Sudan also called ROSS.
National Basketball Association (USA) players, the 7’7” tall Manute Bol and the Chicago Bulls-player, Luol Deng, both hailed from Southern Sudan.
Around 83% of the country’s population lives in circular stick and mud structures called “tukels”. These rustic cottages generally have no windows, are tall and have thatched roofs.
The Boma National Park, situated close to the Ethiopian border, is a vast expanse of wilderness that is home to wildlife including migratory herds of over a million Mongalla gazelle, white-eared Kob, Tiang and Antelope. Nimule, a small but breathtaking national park, was home to the now-extinct white rhino. Today a large number of hippopotamus, the Ugandan Kob, Buffalo and Elephants live there.
Though each tribe has their own language, the language spoken between them is Juba Arabic (a simplified form of Arabic).
The government recently introduced English into schools and plans for it to become the main language of the country. Many people understandbut not all speak, read and write. Only 20% of South Sudanese are literate.
The most helpful language to learn is Juba Arabic (the colloquial language). Right now, though, it is difficult to find a language school or any program that teaches it. New staff can learn with local staff team, on the street, or with a tutor. The local YWAM staff also know English.
Visitors need to get a tourist visa before coming to South Sudan.The cost is US$100 for most nationalities and you will probably need a letter of invitation from YWAM in South Sudan.
If there is no South Sudanese embassy, it may be possible for YWAM Juba to process your visa and have it ready for your collection when you arrive.
Visas for Egyptians are free!
Cost of Living
South Sudan is not cheap but not as expensive as the Gulf nations.
Accommodation in Juba is very expensive ($50/night for a guest house or $100 for a 3 star hotel). We are trying to rent a house to accommodate teams to bring this price down – contact us for more details.
Local food can be prepared for about $3-$4 per meal.
A van can be hired for about $40 per day.
Many airlines fly into Juba international airport, though if there is instability or fighting flights can be disrupted. It is possible to cross the border by bus from Uganda. We do not advise crossing into South Sudan from other bordering countries.
South Sudan is a nominally Christian country so the government isn’t against the church. There is freedom to share the gospel on the streets.
There is opportunity to do many different types of ministry in South Sudan.
- Church ministry
- Youth and children’s ministry
- Kings Kids
- Orphanage ministry
- Church planting among tribal or Muslim peoples.
- Practical help (YWAM Juba is preparing to build a base, so we are in need of help in all areas of building (including architect, engineers, builders, labourers etc).
Fighting between rebels and the government is an ongoing issue for safety and security. The situation is still variable, so communication with the local YWAM leaders is important before coming.
Visitors and staff should be careful of thieves on the streets.
Who to talk to