10,204,581 (Jul 2018)
Until South Sudan became independent in 2011, it was part of Sudan – a country long divided between its Muslim and Arab-dominated North and the traditional, “African” South. A former British colony, Sudan gained independence in 1956 but was then devastated by 17 years of civil war. A further 22 years of conflict followed a decade later, ending in 2005. According to rebel estimates, the violence and resulting famine caused more than two million deaths.
High hopes for the new country of South Sudan were dashed when political tensions between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar sparked ethnic violence in late 2013. Because of the outbreak of violence, 2.2 million people were displaced from their homes by 2015 (1). A peace deal was forged in 2015 under threat by the UN, but continued civil conflict has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
South Sudan is a presidential republic, led by President Salva KIIR Mayardit since 2011. Salva KIRR previously held a leadership role while South Sudan was still a part of Sudan and he has led the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) since 2005. Salva KIRR has taken a hard stand against political corruption, putting policies in place in South Sudan to monitor government contracts and make officials publish their income. Salva KIIR is a Christian. (2)
While South Sudan struggles with an underdeveloped market and infrastructure, the area is rich in agriculture. Oil is their main export with 80% of its gross domestic product (GDP) derived from oil. 66% of the population lives below the poverty line. Over $11 billion in foreign aid since 2005 has been funneled into the country. South Sudan faces long-term challenges handling corruption in the public sector, improving agricultural productivity, alleviating poverty and unemployment, providing transparency with oil revenues, lowering inflation, increasing government revenues, and establishing a rules-based business environment. (3)
The violence in South Sudan, already one of the world’s least developed countries, has displaced millions. More than half the population is on the brink of famine. Serious systematic human rights abuses by both sides have been documented, including rape, killing, pillaging, and the use of child soldiers. Aid workers have been targeted for attack.
FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is a widespread practice in South Sudan, with an estimated 87% of girls and women affected. (4)
Approximately 11.8 million in South Sudan have access to the Internet. In the World Press Freedom Index of 2019, South Sudan was placed 139th of the 180 countries assessed.(5)
The population of South Sudan is majority Christian with many different denominations represented. There is also a significant Muslim minority, but there are no reliable statistics for this group. Many people in rural areas practice traditional African beliefs.
The 2011 transitional constitution allows for freedom of religion and forbids religious discrimination. Members of different religions generally live side-by-side in peace, and faith groups have promoted peace-building since the current civil violence broke out.
- Pray for peace in South Sudan and for an end to the horrendous violence against civilians.
- Pray that aid supplies will reach the millions who are desperately in need, and that those who have been displaced will find safety.
- Give thanks that Christian leaders are promoting peace, and ask God to strengthen them and bless their efforts.
 CIA World Factbook
 Reporters Without Borders