|The Republic of South Sudan in Today's Geopolitical Context|
Sudan, Africa’s largest country by area, has experienced two back-to-back civil wars during the past 40 years. Throughout Sudan’s post 1957 history of independence, the government in Khartoum has made concerted attempts to impose Sharia law nationwide, not only on the Arab Muslim north, but also on the non-Arab Christian and animist population of the South.
Led by a core group of countries (United States, United Kingdom, Norway) and the United Nations, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2005 between the government of Sudan (Khartoum) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) headquartered in the southern city of Juba.
The treaty granted the South autonomy for a transitional period of six years and provided for a referendum on full independence in 2011, but left major reconstruction and development challenges. An independent nation since July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan remains a seriously underdeveloped area.
A separate conflict, which broke out in the western Sudan region of Darfur in 2003, has displaced over a million people and caused an estimated 400,000 deaths. While South Sudan is not a party to the Darfur conflict, the conflict affects the South’s economy and burdens the country with large numbers of refugees.
Despite the country’s extensive proved oil reserves (Sudan currently produces 500,000 barrels of oil per day), Sudan remains one of the world’s poorest countries with the South being historically far more underdeveloped. Oil revenues are currently shared between the Arab-Muslim north and the Black – Christian and animist South. The South has rich lands for agriculture and ranching but is almost totally undeveloped. The oilfields are chiefly in the territory of South Sudan.