NOTE: On Saturday, July 9, 2011, southern Sudan became the independent country of South Sudan. This is the culmination of a six-year process that ended a long, brutal civil war that caused the deaths of millions.
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The area now called the Republic of South Sudan was mostly controlled by speakers of Central Sudanic languages until around 1500 AD. Eventually Dinka, Shilluk, and Luo groups took over, with additional tribal migrations occurring from the 15th through 19th centuries.
Azande people entered southern Sudan during the 16th century, and built the region’s largest state. Due to their vast expansion, the Azande had difficult relationships with neighboring tribes, and even fought against the French and Belgians to maintain their independence.
Egypt invaded in 1821, and made an attempt to construct forts in the region; disease and defection prompted a hasty abandonment of this project, however.
Isma’il Pasha, of Egypt, established the province of Equatoria in present-day South Sudan, with plans to colonize the area, and hired Britishexplorer Samuel Baker to govern.
An attempt by Britain to unify North and South Sudan fell through in 1947, and military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since Sudanese independence from the UK in 1956.
Two civil wars plagued South Sudan, the first beginning in 1955 and the second in 1983 – both of which lasted nearly 20 years.
Subsequently, South Sudan has suffered rather serious neglect in the form of infra structural development. Over 2.5 million citizens lost their lives, and an additional million becoming refugees.
In 2011, a referendum was proposed on whether South Sudan should separate and declare independence from Sudan.
The results were a staggering 98.3% in favor, and on July 9, 2011, southern Sudan officially became the independent country of South Sudan.
As with many newly independent nations, South Sudan is currently at war with armed groups resisting the change in government, and inter-ethnic fighting has intensified.
The Sudanese Air Force bombed key areas of South Sudan in March 2012, and in response, South Sudan seized the Heglig oil field. Fighting continues on….