Africa’s youngest state is a product of its longest Civil War; South Sudan gained independence following a referendum agreed to by the South and its northern neighbour, the republic of Sudan. The roots of Sudan’s civil war and eventual split go back to the 1956 independence of Sudan, when southern leaders accused northern Sudan of reneging on a deal to establish a federal state. A civil war ensued. It led to autonomy being granted to the South in 1972. This limited autonomy was revoked by the Sudanese government in 1983 sparking the country's second civil war, led by the SPLA - the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, under the charismatic leadership of John Garang.
The Civil War ended in 2005 following the 'Comprehensive Peace Agreement' (CPA), which made provision for a referendum on Southern independence following a six-year period of power-sharing government. An overwhelming majority of southern Sudanese voted for independence. On 9th July 2011 South Sudan became the continent’s newest state.
A heterogeneous state, with a population, which is largely Christian or follows traditional religious beliefs, South Sudan inherited most of Sudan’s oil wealth. However, the state is landlocked, and reliant on its northern neighbour to export and refine its oil wealth. It remains beset by conflict in many regions, including rebel movements allegedly receiving support from the North. The dominance of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement also remains a concern for those concerned with the country’s stability.
South Sudan's economic prospects remain dependent on its oil wealth. Other sectors, such as agriculture require investment, although subsistence farming comprises the principal livelihood of the majority of the population. The national budget, particularly healthcare and education, is expected to remain reliant on international aid for the foreseeable future.
In January 2012 the South Sudanese government switched off oil production following the breakdown of talks on sharing oil revenues with Sudan. A number of other issues, including disputed territory remain unresolved between Sudan and South Sudan in talks brokered by the African Union and other parties.