The world’s newest nation was born a few days ago, at midnight Saturday, July 9, 2011. The independence of the nation of South Sudan is the culmination of years of violence and struggle with the northern country of Sudan, which it split from. The capital of this newly-formed republic is Juba, located in southern South Sudan.
So, what does this mean from a travel standpoint? This means that you now have a new country to add to your bucket list! Well, at least those of you who have their mind set to visit every country on Earth before they die. This now is the 196th country, by most counts, to join the list. Though the country in whole has a fairly amiable view of the United States and is very tolerant of other cultures, we don’t suggest buying a ticket for Juba just yet. Not only is the price for a ticket from New York to Juba about $2000 USD with 2 layovers, but the fledgling government of South Sudan “has limited capacity to deter crime or provide security to travelers outside of the capital city of Juba,” according to the U.S. State Department. The State Department also says that there are seven different rebel militia forces that “frequently engage in violent clashes with SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) forces in various areas of South Sudan.” In other words, unless you are providing humanitarian relief or actively assisting in development projects for the new nation, travelers should wait a bit before making any plans in the area.
However, don’t let the bad news scare you away from South Sudan for long; the country has many things going for it. The protected areas of South Sudan host the world’s second largest wildlife migration. The national parks, wetlands, and forest reserves also provide homes to numerous species, such as lions, giraffes, buffalo, elephants, and all sorts of primates. English is the national language, which should make things easier to travel there, though there are many local languages that are spoken throughout the country. If you can read this blog, you can speak to many of the South Sudanese.
More than 90% of the population of South Sudan live off of less than $1 USD per day, so the main cost of any future trip you may plan here will be the airfare. The new country could greatly use the tourism cash flow, as it struggles to independently join the world economy. Travel to South Sudan would probably be one of this new country’s greatest sources of income in the years that follow. If you are looking to travel, but not yet certain of the country’s culture and safety, why not join a humanitarian relief effort? There are many private and not-for-profit organizations that will gladly accept your willingness to help. Some include HopeOfiriha and the ADRA of South Sudan.You will see firsthand the lives of the people, as well as touching lives with your generosity. Help build a nation while immersing yourself in this new, yet ancient, African culture. Volunteer programs are usually more on the lengthier side, so this option may not suit most of you, but any way to travel there is sure to enrich your life and the lives of the South Sudanese.
Mabrook Janoob Sudan! (Congratulations South Sudan!)