Above: The map of Southern Sudan, and it’s surroundings.
Egypt attempted to colonize the region of southern Sudan by establishing the province of Equatoria in the 1870s. Islamic Mahdist revolutionaries overran the region in 1885, but in 1898 a British force was able to overthrow the Mahdist regime. An Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was established the following year with Equatoria being the southernmost of its eight provinces. The isolated region was largely left to itself over the following decades, but Christian missionaries converted much of the population and facilitated the spread of English. When Sudan gained its independence in 1956, it was with the understanding that the southerners would be able to participate fully in the political system. When the Arab Khartoum government reneged on its promises, a mutiny began that led to two prolonged periods of conflict (1955-1972 and 1983-2005) in which perhaps 2.5 million people died – mostly civilians – due to starvation and drought. Ongoing peace talks finally resulted in a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in January 2005. As part of this agreement the south was granted a six-year period of autonomy to be followed by a referendum on final status. The result of this referendum, held in January 2011, was a vote of 98% in favor of secession. Independence was attained on 9 July 2011.
After attaining it’s independence on July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became the 193rd member nation at the UN. South Sudan’s complex history, diverse culture, natural landscape and developments needs can be understood in part by reading, analyzing, comparing and combining maps. Maps help understand the physical landscape, cultural diversity, environmental challenges and resource use, language distribution, among many other things. Maps offer a visualization tool to rapidly understand the complexity of a place like South Sudan that has been ravaged by war and has emerged as an independent country with tremendous challenges ahead.
Above: Women grass – thatching a house in one of the parts of Southern Sudan, that is currently under war.