South Sudan is a landlocked country in East Africa. Juba is its capital city. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the east; Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south; the Central African Republic to the west; and the Republic of Sudan to the north. South Sudan includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd formed by the White Nile, locally called the Bahr al Jebel.
The country was initially part of the British and Egyptian condominium of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and became part of the Republic of Sudan when 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. South Sudan became an independent state on 8 July 2011 following a referendum held in January 2011 in which nearly 99% of voters opted for separation from the rest of Sudan. It is now the world's newest independent state and is currently recognized by two countries.
Unlike the predominantly Muslim population of Sudan (who are Arabs), the South Sudanese (Africans) follow traditional religions, while a minority are Christians . Roman Catholic missionaries began work in Sudan in 1842; there are now some 2,009,374 South Sudanese practicing Roman Catholicism. The majority of Christians in South Sudan are adherents of either the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches (represented by the Episcopal Church of the Sudan) but there are several other small denominations represented. Speaking at Saint Theresa Cathedral in Juba, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, a Roman Catholic, stated that South Sudan would be a nation which respects the freedom of religion.
South Sudan's population is predominantly Christian. Amongst Christians, most are Catholic and Anglican, though other denominations are also active, and animist beliefs are often blended with Christian beliefs. In recent years Christian churches have grown, often as a sign of resistance to the Arab-Muslim north ; this however is typically characterized as racism, rather than religious persecution, between the predominantly Arab North and the non-Arab/"African" South
The Telegraph: Crowds go wild as South Sudan marks its independence
Fireworks lit the sky and packed cars drove around the South Sudan capital with drivers honking and passengers waving their new flag from the windows.
Standing next to the city's flashing countdown clock, which read "free at last," 27-year-old university student Andrew Nuer said: "We have struggled for so many years and this is our day - you cannot imagine how good it feels."
South Sudan's independence comes exactly six months after a referendum that saw southerners vote almost unanimously to split with their former civil war enemies in the north.
For decades, until a peace agreement was signed in 2005, southern rebels fought two wars with successive Khartoum governments for greater autonomy and recognition, a conflict that left the south in ruins and millions of people dead.
Among the revellers was South Sudan's information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who told Reuters: "It is already the ninth so we are independent. It is now."