Political History

Political History

South Sudan

South Sudan is officially known as the Republic of South Sudan. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city, with around 600,000 inhabitants (2018). South Sudan is bordered by the Republic of Sudan to the north, Ethiopia to the east, Kenya to the southeast, Uganda to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest, and the Central African Republic to the west. It includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal (translated as River of the Mountain).

The territories of modern South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan were part of Egypt in the nineteenth century, and later governed as an Anglo-Egyptian condominium until Sudanese independence was achieved in 1956. Following the First Sudanese Civil War, the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was formed in 1972 and lasted until 1983. A second Sudanese civil war soon developed and ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005. Later that year, southern autonomy was restored when an Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan was formed. Following a referendum, South Sudan became an independent country on 9th July, 2011.

For further details about the key dates for South Sudan, please click here


The term “Sudan” derives from the Arabic bilād as-sūdān “land of the Blacks”, and is used more loosely of West and Central Africa in general, especially the Sahel region – the border land between the Sahara Desert and the savannah of Central Africa.    

The modern Republic of Sudan was formed in 1956 and inherited its boundaries from Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, established 1899. The early history of what is now northern Sudan, along the Nile River, known as the Kingdom of Kush, is intertwined with the history of ancient Egypt, with which it was united politically over several periods.  

By virtue of its proximity to Egypt, Sudan has participated in the wider history of the Near East in as much as parts of it were Christianised by the 6th century and it was gradually Islamized between the 7th and 15th centuries. As a result of Christianisation, the Old Nubian language stands as the oldest recorded Nilo-Saharan language (earliest records date to the 9th century).  

Since its independence in 1956, the history of Sudan has been plagued by internal conflict, including the First Sudanese Civil War (1955-1972), the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005), culminating in the secession of South Sudan on 9 July 2011, and the War in Darfur (2003-2010).  

More recently, Sudan has been plagued by political & economic instability, caused in part by US sanctions, as well as by fluctuating oil prices and splits within the ruling National Congress Party.  With greater participation by Sudan in international institutions and the partial lifting of sanctions in late-2017, there are hopes for a greater degree of peace for the country and its people.