After almost two hundred years under foreign rule, the Republic of South Sudan became independent on July 9th 2011.
Until the 19th century, the people of the Republic of South Sudan lived relatively free from outside influences. However this changed in the 1820s, when there were foreign expeditions from the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan —a vassal of the turkish sultan — into the territory of the Republic of South Sudan. The area of South Sudan was mainly seen as a hunting ground for ivory and slave trade, which offered large profits. In the 1860s, merchants from the Middle East replaced European slave traders. There occurred a “Clash of Cultures” during this period called “Turkiya”. The experiences made during this time are still prevailing for South Sudanese in their relations with their northern neighbors, which was reinforced during the reign of the Madhi and his successors (1881 – 1898).
After the destruction of the Mahdi state by British troops, South Sudan became part of the Anglo -Egyptian condominium, hence part of the British Empire . For the British, South Sudan held little economic significance, but did have geopolitical importance. The British ruled by “Indirect Rule” with a minimum of administration. South Sudan was seen as an “ethnological zoo ” that was excluded from the socio – political and economic development that took place in other parts of the condominium. Limited investments were made into infrastructure and consequently, an undeveloped South Sudanese territory was added to the Arab-Islamic Republic of Sudan in 1956.
From 1955 — shortly before the founding of the state of the Republic of Sudan ( 1956) — until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ( CPA) in 2005, South Sudan witnessed countless scenes of fighting between Sudanese forces and South Sudanese liberation movements. Over two million people were killed during the two wars between Sudanese troops and South Sudanese liberation movements. Four million South Sudanese had to flee their homes or were deported to the north.
The CPA in 2005 was followed by six years reorientation, reconstruction, and finally a referendum, during which the overwhelming majority of the population voted in January 2011 for independence from Sudan. On July 9th 2011 South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit declared the Republic of South Sudan to be independent.