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Posted by: Viral News on 13/07/2019

South Sudan People History and Religion

South Sudan People History and Religion

South Sudan seceded from the Republic of Sudan in 2011 effectively making it the youngest nation in the world. Were it not for the Egyptian Ottoman Khedivate expansion in the 19th century, South Sudan would have been an independent nation many moons ago. Here’s a brief history of the country, its people, and their religion.


Conflicts between what is now Sudan and its southern counterpart have been in existence for almost a century. The first civil war erupted in 1955 after Sudan neared its independence but power was mostly dominant in North Sudan. As such, southern insurgents staged a mutiny in Torit triggering one of the largest secessions in history dubbed Anyanya.  By 1972, the rebels already had a political party called the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM).

Another civil war erupted in 1983 and went on until 2005 after North Sudan attacked a southern battalion and forced them to defect to the North. On January 9, 2005 the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed by both North and South Sudan bringing peace to the land after years of conflict and a devastating famine in 2001. Salva Kiir became the first president of South Sudan in April 2010 and South Sudan joined the United Nations as the 193rd nation on July 9th 2011.

The People

South Sudan is predominantly comprised of Africans with the Dinka being the largest ethnic group. They constitute about two-fifths of the population with the Nuer people taking up second spot. The Nuer people make up one-fifth of the South Sudan population. Other indigenous groups include the Anywa (Anwak), Shilluk, and the Bari. There is also a small Arab population in the area due to North Sudan’s and Egypt’s influence.

The Dinka people are mostly cattle herders but the Shilluk prefer settled farming. The Anywa are like the latter and can be mostly found in the eastern parts of South Sudan while the Nuer people occupy the center-northeast part of the country. The Bari people live in the south close to Uganda’s border and the Zande occupy the southwest area near the DRC border. Considering most of the people in South Sudan are Nilotic, the most dominant language is the Eastern Sudanic sub branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family.

The Adamawa-Ubangi branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages can also be heard among South Sudan people especially the Zande. The small Arab population in the country mostly communicates using the Arabic language.

Religion in South Sudan

Around three-fifths of South Sudan’s population is comprised or Christians dominated by the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Anglican churches. While North Sudan is full of Muslims due to Egypt’s Arab influence, South Sudan was mostly influenced by early European Missionaries in the second half of the 19th century. A number of South Sudan residents are also Muslims and animists while the remaining percentage practices traditional folk religion.

Religion is a huge unifying factor in South Sudan. Catholics make up 37.22% of the country’s population (6.2 million). The Roman Catholic missionaries arrived in South Sudan in 1842 as part of the East African contingent and helped build schools and hospitals cementing their place as the biggest religion in the area. Even after the Sudan breakup, most of the Christians and Catholics in the North especially in Juba moved to the South.

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