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Travel Warning WARNING: Many governments continue to advise citizens to avoid all travel due to the possibility of armed conflicts and inter-ethnic violence and because of widespread violent crime. While a ceasefire has been in place since 2018, the situation is volatile. Land borders with Sudan and Ethiopia remain hazardous. Rural areas may contain landmines. Civilians and aid workers are at risk of shootings, carjackings, ambushes, violent assaults, harassment and robberies. Some embassies are operating skeleton staff and may not be able to provide assistance to travellers.
Government travel advisories
(Information last updated 02 Jan 2024)

South Sudan (Arabic: جنوب السودان, Janūb as-Sūdān) is a country in Central Africa. The world’s youngest country, it was a part of Sudan until it became an independent country on 9 July 2011.

Regions

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Cities

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Other destinations

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Understand

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Capital Juba
Currency South Sudanese pound (SSP)
Population 12.5 million (2017)
Country code +211
Time zone UTC+02:00, Africa/Juba
Emergencies 911
Driving side right
Cattle in South Sudan
Soldiers in South Sudan

History

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South Sudan was part of Sudan until it gained its independence in 2011, following a long war in which over 1 million people were killed, and a historic referendum. Although South Sudan was granted independence by Sudan after an overwhelming vote for independence in the referendum, relations between the two Sudans remain tense. Sudan depends on hard currency obtained from transshipping oil from South Sudan through Port Sudan on the Red Sea, while the landlocked South Sudan depends on access to that port, and the two countries have argued about terms for transshipment. There has also been some armed conflict over the oil-rich Abyei District which is ruled by Sudan but borders on South Sudan, and the Sudan People's Liberation Army - North, which fought alongside the Sudan People's Liberation Army that now rules South Sudan, continues to fight in the Sudanese provinces of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, with the sympathy and, allegedly, military aid of the South Sudanese government.

People

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South Sudan has more than 60 indigenous ethnicities. The Dinka comprise 40% of the population.

Climate

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South Sudan's climate is similar to an equatorial or tropical climate, and has a rainy season of high humidity and large amounts of rainfall followed by a drier season.

Holidays

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  • 9 January: Peace Agreement Day
  • 16 May: SPLA Day
  • 9 July: Independence Day
  • 30 July: Martyrs' Day
  • 25 December: Christmas Day

Books

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  • They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan, by Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Benjamin Ajak. Not exactly something to advertise South Sudan as an appealing destination, but it's a vivid and moving account of the war that preceded the country's independence.
  • Warchild by Emmanuel Jal
  • What is the What by Valentino Achak Deng and Dave Eggers

Get in

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A map showing the visa requirements of South Sudan, with countries in green having visa-free access

Visa requirements

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Visas are issued for US$100 at all border crossings and Juba International Airport. The length of the visas issued seems to vary randomly between 1 and 6 months. An invitation letter may be required depending on which official is at the desk on your day of arrival. The process can take 3 hours. If you do not have a local contact with official connections, it would be safer to get a visa before arriving in the country. Visas are now available from the embassy in London for UK₤50 cash and typically take 5 working days to process. The embassy in Nairobi is also a popular place to get a visa.

Once in South Sudan, foreign visitors must register their presence in the country within 72 hours of arrival. Visitors must do this in person.

As of April 2024, you can apply for e-visa on this website: https://evisa.gov.ss/. Single entry visa is 100 USD, three months multiple entry visa is 300 USD and six months multiple entry visa 350 USD. Make sure you have your Yellow Fever Vaccine card with you.

By plane

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Until June 2022, there are no direct commercial flights from outside Africa, with the exception of service from Dubai on flydubai. Turkish Airlines expect to operate 3 flights per week from June 2022. Changing planes is necessary; most airlines flying into Juba depart from Cairo (Egypt), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Entebbe (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya) and Khartoum (Sudan) from where you should be able to manage flights to and from Europe, Asia or the Americas.


Be careful on taking photos in the airport as this is actually not allowed but an increasing number of people are observed to take photos at the airport these days.

By car

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Overland crossing from Sudan to South Sudan was closed from the latter's secession in 2011; Sudanese leaders have announced plans to re-open the border in 2016.[1]

As of April 2024, crossing from Uganda to South Sudan is possible. The Renk crossing for Sudan to South Sudan is also flooded with refugees and returnees fleeing from Sudan.

By bus

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A bus can be taken from Kampala to Juba.

By train

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There is one railway line in South Sudan that enters from Sudan in the north and terminates at Wau. Before independence there were services between Wau and Babanosa, which had rail connections to Khartoum. As of 2014, however, there are no scheduled passenger services; indeed, the entire Sudanese rail network has come to a halt. Sporadic and non-scheduled trains may, however, still run, so you can try contacting the Sudan Railways Corporation for more information.

Get around

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There is always room on top! Travelling by train towards Wau.

By car

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Roads are unpaved, and during the rainy season from July to October and November, they often become impassable. Infrastructure is non-existent,

Talk

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English and Arabic (Juba Arabic) are the official languages of South Sudan, although Dinka is the most widely spoken language. Jur Modo, Nuer, Chollo/Shilluk, and Zande languages are also spoken there.

See

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  • East African wildlife in Nimule National Park.
  • Rumbec Freedom Square in Rumbek.
  • White Nile. See the White Nile and the locals taking a drip from any of the restaurants located on its bank like Da Vinci and Afex.
  • Afex. This restaurant has the best view of the iconic sinking ship that every humanitarian has on their Facebook page.
  • Jebel Kujur. Hike up this 684m-high rock and get a good view of the city. However, it is crowded during the weekends. Check the security situation of the area before hiking up.

Do

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Safaris to Boma National Park and Nimule National Park. See the parks by 4x4 vehicle or aircraft. See the greatest migration of mammals on the earth.

If you're feeling charitable, visit the Angels of East Africa orphanage (as featured in the film Machine Gun Preacher), also located in Nimule.

Buy

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Money

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Exchange rates for South Sudanese pound

As of January 2024:

  • US$1 ≈ SSP130

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from mataf.net

The currency of the country is the South Sudanese pound (ISO currency code: SSP). It is divided into 100 piasters. The official rate or "bank exchange rate" (above) is what you would see on sites like Oanda and mataf.net. In December 2023, the black market exchange rate was reported to be SSP1085 for one US dollar. As of April 2024, 1 USD to SSP in the "black market" is 2400 SSP. You can exchange your money by paying in USD at supermarkets like Juba Mall, Lily's, and Phoenicia. They will ask you if you want your change to be in USD or SSP. There are also money changers that line some streets with stacks of SSPs but be wary of them.

Coins in South Sudan come in denominations of 10-, 20 and 50 piasters, 1 and 2 South Sudanese pounds. Banknotes in South Sudan come in denominations of 5-, 10 and 25 piasters, 1-, 5-, 10-, 20-, 25-, 50-, 100-, 500 and 1,000 South Sudanese pounds.

You can withdraw money with a Visa card or Mastercard in any of the Ecobank or Equity bank ATMs in South Sudan.


Souvenirs:

  • Maasai Market. The Maasai Market is a souvenir place but the items sold here are souvenirs from Kenya and Uganda, not from Juba.
  • Shea butter. You can buy unprocessed shea butter from the market or from Lulu Life Shea Butter (https://www.lululife-sheabutter.com/) in their physical store in Juba or at Phoenicia.

Eat

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South Sudanese cuisine is mostly based on grains such as maize, sorghum.

The national dish of South Sudan is Kisra, sorghum pancake.


It is heavily influenced by Arab cuisine.

The following are the most common dishes served:

  • Kisra. This is the main source of carbohydrate. It looks similar to Ethiopia's injeera but is more fermented, has a stronger sour smell, and has a rougher texture. It's color depends on what grain is used but most are made from sorghum, which gives its deeper brown color.
  • Mandazi. Deep fried square donuts.
  • Wala-wala, millet porridge.
  • Aseeda, sorghum porridge
  • Shaiyyah. Pan fried meat.
  • Mahshi. Similar to the Middle Eastern dolma. Zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers are stuffed with minced meat, rice, onions etc. in a bed of tomato sauce.
  • Gurassa, yeasted pancake.
  • Kajaik, fish stew.
  • Ful sudani, peanut sweet.
  • Molokhia. Made of Molokhia or Jews mallow leaves cooked in a meat based soup.
  • Tamia, falafel.

Checkout these websites:

Taste of South Sudan. https://tasteofsouthsudan.com/

Drink

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In the towns of South Sudan such as Rumbek and Juba, Kenyan and Ugandan beers are starting to appear in bars at inflated cross-border prices. In Renk, you can even buy Red Horse, a Filipino beer!

Fresh fruit juices are available throughout South Sudan. One of the local juices is "aradeab"(tamarind) and juice made from the baobab fruit.

The cloves-flavoured tea (chai) is very good. Outside the capital, you'll pay usually 10 SSP for one cup. Also the ginger-flavoured coffee is to be tried. In Renk, one cup of this is 100SSP (2019). Both are very sweet, so if you don't want sugar or you want it separately, say "Sukar bara" (serve sugar separate) when you order.

Sleep

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  • Radisson Blu Hotel
  • Pyramid Continental Hotel and
  • Juba Grand Hotel
  • Palm Africa Hotel
  • Acacia Hotel

Stay safe

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Village hut in South Sudan

Although the level of violence has subsided since the establishment of the country and the end of the civil war, South Sudan remains dangerous for travel as ceasefire violations and boundary disputes have continued. Guns are freely and readily available to the populace, and it is not uncommon to hear gunshots being fired in broad daylight. Travel near the Sudan or Central African Republic borders is extremely dangerous. Western governments continue to advise against all travel to South Sudan and the adjacent regions in Sudan. Violent crime remains problematic; unexploded ordnance from years of civil war also poses hazards to civilians.

Photography

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South Sudan has very strict photography laws. For any kind of photography, you are required to obtain a photography permit from the Ministry of Interior.

Be very mindful of what you take pictures of, and do not take photos randomly; foreign tourists have been arrested and physically assaulted by South Sudanese law enforcement for simply taking photographs.

To err on the side of safety, keep the following in mind:

  • Never take a photograph of a South Sudanese person without their explicit permission.
  • Never take photographs of government buildings, vehicles, military personnel, or law enforcement personnel.
  • Never take photographs of airports, bridges, or gas stations.

Authorities

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South Sudan is one of the most unstable, lawless, and corrupt countries in the world. Many scholars regard South Sudan as a kleptocracy.

Do not expect the South Sudanese police to help you or solve your problems in the event you run into any kind of difficulties during your stay; the South Sudanese police are extremely corrupt and are written off as hapless, abusive, and ineffective.

Low salaries are the main reason why there's a high level of corruption among the police force. As a foreigner, you may attract unwanted attention from corrupt officials.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and keep your emotions under control; getting into a fight with corrupt, abusive officials or the wrong person in a country far away from home is not something you (or anyone) would want to do.

Journalists and bloggers

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As tempting as it may be to write about South Sudan, it is illegal to report on the country without permission from the South Sudanese Media Authority.

Stay healthy

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It's a malarial area, so before arriving, visit a tropical vaccination center to get prophylactic treatment and the necessary vaccines, including yellow fever, polio and hepatitis A and B. Be sure to sleep under a mosquito net and use mosquito repellent. Most of the South Sudanese drink water from the rivers, which exposes them to diarrhoea and cholera. If bottled water is not available, boil/chlorinate the river water before drinking it.

Respect

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Connect

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Telephone country code for South Sudan is +211, previous to 2011 it used the Sudan country code +249 so some numbers printed may need to be corrected. Local numbers are a 7 digit number preceded by a 2 digit provider code, those starting with a 1 are fixed line those with 9 mobile.

Roaming with foreign phones/SIM cards does not usually work in South Sudan. For mobile communications, you will need to purchase a SIM card from one of the local networks (Zain or MTN). Bring an unlocked phone.


This country travel guide to South Sudan is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!