It’s official, South Sudan has officially become the world’s youngest nation as of midnight on July 9th, 2011. After 40+ years of civil wars between the Islamic northern and the Christian southern region of Africa’s (once) largest country, South Sudan has finally gained its independence.
Sudan, before its separation, was one of the least visited countries is Africa, mostly due to its ongoing conflicts but now that peace has arrived, South Sudan is gearing up for a brighter future, although the path to get there may take a while. While the north is quite arid, it’s in the south where Sudan begins to turn from desert to tropics. Visitors who have made their way to South Sudan before will all agree that the Sudanese are some of the friendliest people on earth.
- Full name: Republic of South Sudan
- Capital city: Juba
- Currency: South Sudan Pound
- Official language: English
- Population: unofficially 8 million
- Main export: Oil
ATMs only work with local bank accounts so bring any money you will need for your trip in cash. As well, there is no use of credit cards in the country as a result of the American embargo.
You will need a visa to enter South Sudan, which is best obtained from your home country. It will be next to impossible to obtain a visa if you have a stamp from Israel in your passport. It can take anywhere from 24 hours to 2 months. Once you arrive, you must register with the local police within 3 days but most hotels will register on your behalf.
What to see:
Juba – Located along the White Nile River, Juba is the newly named capital of South Sudan. Mostly walk-able, this is a small city with big plans for the future. As for things to do, this place is pretty relaxed with a thriving restaurant and bar scene. If you want to get out of the city, fishing trips along the Nile are extremely popular, especially on weekends.
The Sudd – As one of the world’s largest wetlands, the Sudd is definitely something to explore for its wildlife. It’s huge, 130,000km² during the wet season! More than 400 species of birds can be found here at any given time including the graceful Black Crowned Cranes and Great While Pelicans… a paradise for ornithologists and bird-watchers.
Wildlife – Conservation of South Sudan’s natural habitats and incredible wildlife are at the forefront of the new country’s tourism priorities. South Sudan is home to the world’s second biggest land migration, a seasonal sight in itself to witness when 1.3 million antelope cross the savannah and wetlands. On top of that the country is home to 8,000+ elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions and chimps.
When to go:
The worst time to visit South Sudan is without a doubt during the rainy season, which falls from April to November.
Congratulations South Sudan on gaining independence! Keep your eye on this country, especially if you’re a wildlife-spotting aficionado.