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South Sudan travel guide

About South Sudan

There’s off-piste, and then there’s South Sudan. Officially the world’s newest nation, its poor infrastructure and volatile political climate will deter most from visiting this fledgling nation. But the intrepid few who do visit will discover some of the least known and most extreme natural phenomena on Earth.

After a messy divorce from Sudan in 2011, the South Sudanese people are fiercely proud of their hard-fought independence and both surprised and pleased when someone choses to visit.

Somewhat chaotic, and growing rapidly, the capital, Juba, has a superb location on the banks of the White Nile. Founded in the 1920s, it exhibits some excellent examples of British colonial architecture around the Hai Jalaba district, though most visitors will want to leave man-made structures behind and head for the country’s natural wonders.

The vast swampy Sudd region, known locally as Bahr el Jebel or “Mountain Sea” is where the Nile forms one of the world’s largest inland wetlands. A habitat safe from poachers for large populations of hippos, it is a unique experience to explore its vast islands of reeds by canoe.

Boma National Park not only boasts large populations of Africa’s most iconic wildlife species, including elephant, giraffe and lion, but also the greatest migration of mammals on Earth, when an estimated two million grazing animals flee en mass for pastures new. The region is also renowned for its traditional tribal homesteads, which dot the plains.

Not content with rivers, swamps and savannah, South Sudan’s natural prowess extends to the Imatong Mountains, and the star attraction here is Kinyeti, the highest mountain in the country at 3,200m (10,500ft).

The South Sudanese consider their homeland blessed and it’s hard to disagree when you see the sheer diversity of natural landscapes the country has to offer. Road travel can be uncomfortable, but the end result is certainly well worth any hardship.

Key facts

Area:

644,329 sq km (248,777 sq miles).

Population:

12,733,427 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

18.7 per sq km.

Capital:

Juba.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Salva Kiir Mayardit since 2011.

Head of government:

President Salva Kiir Mayardit since 2011.

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