Oxford Announces the 2011 Place of the Year: South Sudan

Nov 01, 2011, 13:56 ET from Oxford University Press

NEW YORK, Nov. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It's positioned in a territorial hot zone, and on July 9, 2011, it became the newest country in the world. The stakes are high and the future is unclear for Oxford's 2011 Place of the Year, South Sudan.

Before the independent country of South Sudan was formed, the nation of Sudan had a riddled history of war, tragedy and poverty.  First, there was the rebellion in Darfur, which generated greater international concern than any other humanitarian crisis in modern history. The Darfur rebellion recently obscured the far more lethal war between northern and southern Sudan, spanning twenty-two years in its most recent phase and which cost the lives of more than two and a half million Southerners—eight times the number who died in Darfur. 

What's more, the country is home to vast oil and mineral wealth. Emerging Asian economic powers in particular have been drawn to Sudan by its vast natural resources.

Thirdly, Sudan has been a religious battleground for generations.  So much so that according to Andrew Natsios, author of several books including his newest, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, March 2012), "the greatest unresolved issue in the region's politics has involved Islam." In fact, the country once housed the most wanted criminal in the world, Osama bin Laden (his former home in Khartoum is a tourist site even today). 

Looking towards the future and viability of South Sudan in the 21st century, it's quite certain they will be confronted with several dilemmas. South Sudan's (along with China) population is projected to triple by the end of this century.  A nation nearly the size of Texas, South Sudan lacks the infrastructure they require to sustain the anticipated population growth.  Even as it stands today, the newly formed country is finding it extremely difficult to account for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled the country during the bloody civil war only to recently return. Indeed, the attention of Africa and the world will be focused on South Sudan and sub-Saharan Africa as we all tread cautiously into this 21st century of uncertainty.

Facts about South Sudan:

Official Name:  Republic of South Sudan

Population: 8,260,000

Land area:  239,285 square miles
Capital(s): Juba (with plans to move capital to Ramciel in the future)
Government: Transitional
Ethnic Groups: Dinka, Nuer, and roughly 200 others

Bordering Nations: Ethiopia, Sudan, Central African Rep., Congo, Uganda, and Kenya
Languages: Local languages
Religions: Traditional beliefs, Christianity
Currency: Sudanese pound (1 USB = 2.68 Sudanese pounds)
Cash crops: Agriculture, forestry, mineral resources (mainly oil)

Gained Independence: July 9, 2011
President: Salva Kiir Mayardit (2nd President of South Sudan)

The Oxford University Press annual Place of the Year coincides with its publication of Atlas of the World—the only atlas published annually—now in its 18th Edition.

Finalists for Oxford's 2011 Place of the Year:


Cairo, Egypt

Fukushima, Japan

Joplin, Missouri

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The Moon


Wall Street






Palo Alto, California

Oxford invites comments on South Sudan as well as other information and content at [http://blog.oup.com/].

Andrew S. Natsios served as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2001 to 2005, where he was appointed as Special Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.  He also served as Special Envoy to Sudan from October 2006 to December 2007. He is the author of two previous books, U.S. Foreign Policy and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Great North Korean Famine.  His newest book, Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2012.

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SOURCE Oxford University Press