South Sudan, the world’s newest state, on Monday marks the first anniversary of its independence from the north.
The division of Sudan, which until last year was the biggest country in Africa, followed a 2005 peace deal that ended a north-south civil war. (For an Interactive look “A land divided: the troubled history of Sudan and South Sudan” – please click on link.reuters.com/qex29s)
Here are some facts about South Sudan:
HEAD OF STATE: Salva Kiir
POPULATION: 8.26 million
Note: The 2009 census showed a total Sudanese population of 39.15 million, with 30.89 million living in the north and 8.26 million in the south. The south contested the census and said it had undercounted the Southerners. Hundreds of thousands of expatriate Southerners have moved back home since the census, Reuters reports.
Almost three quarters of the population are under the age of 30 and 83 percent live in rural areas.
AREA: 640,000 sq km. (About one third of united Sudan and roughly the size of France)
RELIGION: Mostly Christian and traditional beliefs.
ECONOMY: Landlocked South Sudan faces an economic crisis as a result of its decision in January to shut down oil production in a dispute with Sudan over how much it should pay to transport and export its crude through Khartoum’s infrastructure.
– Oil accounted for about 98 percent of the South’s total revenue. South Sudan had inherited at independence the three-quarters of unified Sudan’s roughly 500,000 barrels per day of oil output that came from southern oilfields. But the export pipelines all pass through the north, which has the only refineries and sea port.
– South Sudan became the International Monetary Fund’s 188th member country in April 2012 and also joined the World Bank.
A leaked March 1 memo cited a top World Bank official warning that South Sudan faced a catastrophic collapse in GDP, reserves running out by July, runaway inflation and increased poverty as a direct result of the oil shutdown.
South Sudan’s leaders disputed this and adopted a defiant stance. The government imposed an austerity programme and said it was counting on foreign loans and aid to keep South Sudan on its feet until planned alternative pipelines were built in 2-3 years to carry the crude to Kenya or Ethiopia, instead of through Sudan.
– Donors are strongly urging South Sudan to resolve the standoff with Khartoum over oil exports and restore the energy output and revenues that can help build its institutions and fund economic and social development.
– Critics have accused President Salva Kiir’s government of of doing little to clamp down on widespread corruption that has hampered efforts to develop the country. Kiir has written to officials offering an amnesty if they return an estimated $4 billion of stolen public funds.
– Despite its oil, much of the population lives below the poverty line, surviving on just a half a dollar a day.
According to the most recent UNDP study, the infant mortality rate exceeds 100 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the prevalence of wasting is more than three times the regional average. The country lags behind the rest of sub-Saharan Africa in almost all health measures.
– The net primary school enrolment rate in 2010 was 44 percent, the fourth lowest in the world.
– In May 2011 the European Union allocated 200 million euros for South Sudan to support its 2011-13 Development Plan. The World Bank also established a $75 million South Sudan Transition Trust Fund before independence.
* IMPACT ON SUDAN:
— Sudan has also faced economic problems, such as soaring inflation, since South Sudan seceded in 2011, inheriting the oil fields that had produced 75 percent of Sudan’s oil.
— Anti-government protests erupted across Khartoum last month. Hundreds of Sudanese took to the streets in the most widespread demonstrations yet against austerity measures introduced by the government. These included a cut in fuel subsidies.