The key dates for South Sudan are as follows:
1956 Despite the British Government’s acknowledgement of significant ethnic differences between the northern and southern regions, Sudan becomes independent from Britain & Egypt – an attempt by Britain to join the southern part of Sudan with Uganda on independence, creating a separate state, fails in the face of pan-Arabic opposition.
1962 Civil war begins in the south, led by the Anya Nya movement, as a result of the mounting repression of the south by the Khartoum Government
1972 Under the Addis Ababa peace agreement between the government and the Anya Nya, the south becomes a self-governing region, ending hostilities.
1978 Oil is discovered in the Bentiu region of southern Sudan.
1983 President Numeiri declares the introduction of Sharia Islamic law. Civil war (the Second Sudanese Civil War) breaks out again in the south involving government forces and the newly-formed Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by Dr John Garang de Mabior, a former Sudanese Army colonel. The civil war would see enormous brutality exercised by both sides and millions killed or displaced in the southern part of Sudan.
1985 After widespread popular unrest, Numeiri is deposed by a group of officers and a Transitional Military Council is set up to rule the country.
1989 The Islamist National Salvation Revolution, led by Lt. Gen Omar al-Bashir, takes over in a military coup
2002 The Khartoum Government and the SPLM sign a landmark ceasefire agreement providing for six-month renewable ceasefire. Talks in Kenya lead to a breakthrough agreement between the government and the southern rebels on ending the 19-year civil war. The Machakos Protocol provides for the south to seek self-determination after six years.
2004 The Khartoum Government and the southern rebels agree on power-sharing protocols as part of a peace deal to end their long-running conflict. The deal follows earlier breakthroughs on the division of oil and non-oil wealth.
2005 (July) The Khartoum Government and the southern rebels sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This agreement includes a permanent ceasefire and accords on wealth and power sharing. Former southern rebel leader Dr Garang is sworn in as first vice president. A constitution giving a large degree of autonomy to the south is signed.
2005 (August) Vice president and former rebel leader Dr Garang is killed in a crash involving a Ugandan Army helicopter. He is succeeded by Salva Kiir. Garang’s death sparks deadly clashes in the capital between southern Sudanese and northern Arabs.
2005 (October) An autonomous government is formed in the south, in line with the January 2005 peace deal. The administration is dominated by former rebels and SPLM members.
2009 (December) Leaders of North and South reach a deal on the terms of a referendum on independence due in the south by 2011.
2010 (January) President Omar al-Bashir says he would accept the referendum result, even if the south opts for independence.
2011 (January) People of the South vote overwhelmingly in favour of full independence from the North within 6 months.
South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011, following a referendum that passed with 98.83% of the vote. It is a United Nations member state, a member state of the African Union, and a member state of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. In July 2012, South Sudan signed the Geneva Conventions.
Sadly, South Sudan has suffered internal conflict virtually continuously since its independence.