A young nation still struggling
The government of Sudan gave its blessing to the separation of South Sudan after a referendum in January 2011, which saw 99% of the southern population vote for the creation of South Sudan. South Sudan came into existence as an independent country on 9 July 2011. Whilst a separatist government and a limited degree of autonomy has existed since the end of the Civil War between the north and the south in 2005, the new nation has much work to do in establishing and improving institutions and infrastructure required for governance.
There is a fragile peace in South Sudan as conflict still exists in a number of areas throughout the country. The border region with Sudan remains volatile as parts have yet to be delineated, and crossing the border by land remains unsafe. There are ongoing conflicts in the cross-border region of South Kordofan as well as in Abyei, which is yet to host a referendum deciding whether to be part of South Sudan. A risk of landmines remains on many roads throughout the country and a large number of guns are accessible to tribal groups and individuals.
Decades of fighting have left South Sudan's infrastructure in tatters. With the return of millions of displaced southerners, there is a pressing need for reconstruction. Whilst there are a number of hotels in the capital Juba, the travel and tourism infrastructure is virtually non-existent beyond this. There are currently few banks, and no landline telephones; electricity supplies are erratic and unreliable. Road building has been highlighted as a priority for the new nation as there are currently no paved roads outside the capital.
Training and education essential to improve literacy
In order to develop the nation, much effort will be required in educating and training the local population. The literacy rate in South Sudan is 27%, with only 50% of children attending school, and only 10% finishing it. In order to develop a well-trained workforce, the priority must be on improving literacy for the future. English has been selected as the official language, which will benefit the tourist industry, but a limited number of the population actually speak the language. Currently, many workers in the tourism industry are foreigners.
Wildlife tourism will be the focus
Despite its many problems, South Sudan does have the potential to establish a travel and tourism industry. With extensive forests, grassland, lakes, grass swamps and rivers, it has extensive wildlife to rival that in all of East/Central Africa. It is home to one of the largest animal migration routes in the world, as well as having significant populations of classic safari animals such as elephants, giraffes, lions, and cheetahs. The Boma National Park is likely to become a centre for tourists, but it will require significant expenditure for this to become reality as it currently possesses minimal tourism infrastructure. Additionally, whilst there is ongoing conflict in the country and its neighbour Sudan, visitors are likely to go to other more established and perceived safer destinations.
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