South Sudan

After decades of protracted civil war, South Sudan was declared independent from the Republic of Sudan on July 9, 2011 and became the world’s newest nation, with a population of approximately 8.3 million people. This number has quickly grown past 10 million due to refugees returning to their homeland in the following years.

Natural Resources

South Sudan is a large country, rich in natural resources. This wealth is one of the root causes of the several decades of war in the country. The northern al-Jallabas and Egyptians backed by the Khartoum government elites sought to plunder the wealth in the south. This is the main reason why they resisted the calls for separation, as they knew that would deny them a chance to access these resources. (

The River Nile is a dominant geographic feature in South Sudan, flowing across the country, as well as the world’s largest swamp, the Sudd, which covers a total area of 30,000 square kilometres. The river and its many tributaries also provide access to almost unlimited sources of water which services the land, making it fertile to support diverse vegetation and crops.


South Sudan is largely under-developed, vulnerable to external shocks and overly dependent on oil revenues. For example, in 2010 trade in oil contributed nearly 100% of its gross domestic product (GDP). The economy increasingly relies on imports of goods, services and capital. 


Despite South Sudan having the highest GDP and gross national income (GNI) per capita in East Africa, more than half of its population is considered poor. Approximately 4.2 million people, or 51.6% of the population (most of them women), live on less than $28/month (the national poverty line). While this could imply that a large proportion of income is repatriated outside the country, it also gives an indication of the high levels of inequality that exist, with a large amount of income going to a small proportion of the population.

Inequalities in income are high in South Sudan. The Gini co-efficient, a measure used to estimate inequality, is estimated at 45.5, illustrating a significant gap in consumption between those classed as poor and non-poor. Consumption per person in the top 10% of the population is more than ten times that in the bottom 10%.


Nearly 90% of South Sudanese households depend on crop farming, animal husbandry, fishing or forestry for their livelihoods. Although the agriculture sector is thought to have more potential than oil, gas and minerals, it has remained largely under-developed and under-funded.

South Sudan has about 47% arable land, but only 5% is cultivated. The agricultural sector has not received significant attention either from government or from foreign investors and continues to be stifled by marked deficits in human and institutional capital, infrastructure, finance and technology. The sector experiences low yields and poor infrastructure prevents transportation of produce to markets, leading to large post-harvest losses and chronic food insecurity, especially for those unable to buy foodstuffs from the market. More than half of the population were living in moderate or severe food insecurity in 2011/2012.


Only 37% of the total population above six years old has attended school and the net enrolment rate is just 48%. These trends can be attributed to the long period of war, during which access to schooling was severely constrained.

In order to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on universal primary education and to develop the human capital necessary to drive the relatively fragile and under-developed South Sudanese economy, significant proportions of public money need to be spent on establishing, improving and maintaining educational infrastructure and services. However, between 2008 and 2011, education spending’s share of total government expenditure was not aligned with this need, and was on average only 8%.

Education allocations have fluctuated, but every year the figure was below the Education For All (EFA) programme of action target of at least 9% set by African heads of states and lower than in other East African countries. By contrast, Kenya and Uganda allocated on average 18.6% and 17.4% respectively for education sector expenditure in the same period.

Only 27% of the total population above 15 years old are considered to be literate (compared with 87% in Kenya, 73% in Uganda, 71% in Rwanda, 73% in Tanzania and 67% in Burundi). 

However, some progress is being made as a child in South Sudan now has a 60% chance of receiving some schooling, up from 40% a decade ago.

Current challenges include enrolling a million out-of-school children, most of whom live in poor rural areas; bringing down the steep 60% dropout rate in lower primary school; and improving the quality of learning. Overcrowded primary classrooms are also a serious problem, housing 129 children on average. Only three out of five teachers receives a salary from the government, with an average of 80 children to each salaried teacher. 

As in many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the quality of student learning in South Sudan is reportedly weak. Sixth-graders in a sample of mostly urban schools in four states answered test questions correctly 35% of the time in language and just 29% of the time in mathematics.

“On the bright side, South Sudan has a golden opportunity today to pay attention to the quality of learning in schools, so that education delivers stronger and not weaker results as the system expands to take in more children in future,” said Ritva Reinikka, World Bank Director for Human Development in Africa.


Needless to say, there is vast potential for great things in this, the yougest nation of the world. Please keep this nation and its development in your prayers and considering partnering with EduDeo as we strive to make a difference in this country through our Walking Together teacher training program in partnership with CH Global.  Read more specifically about the Walking Together Projects taking place here:

Main Sources: 

South Sudan Statistics

  • Language:

  • Area:

    619,745 km²
  • Capital:

  • Population:

    10.6 million
    51% of population at or below national poverty line
  • Currency:

    South Sudan Pound
  • Life Expectancy:

    42 years
  • Agriculture:

    crop farming, animal husbandry, fishing and forestry
  • Natural Resources:

    Oil (97.8% of total state revenues);
    various agricultural products like mangoes; minerals like gold and rough diamonds; and forestry resources like teak.
  • Terrain:

    mainly plain interrupted every so often by hilly areas;
    thick equatorial vegetation and savannah grasslands;
    mountainous ranges along its border with Uganda.
  • Climate:

    high humidity & lots of rainfall;
    rainy season between April and November
Sundar Daniel
Dec 14, 2015 at 12:47 am

Would love to know about opportunities in South Sudan

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