South Sudan chosen as name for new country

A man holds a SPLM flag in Juba - 30 January 2011 The referendum was part of a deal to end decades of north-south conflict

South Sudan has been chosen as the name of what will be the world's newest country when it comes into existence on 9 July, ending months of speculation.

Other suggested names had included Nile Republic and Cush, a reference to a Biblical-era kingdom in the area.

Some 99% of southern Sudanese voted for independence from the north of Sudan in a referendum held in January.

The name decision was announced after a meeting of the top committee of the south's ruling SPLM party.

The SPLM's Secretary General Pagan Amum said the decision, made by the party's politburo, will require approval by parliament.

But correspondents say that is a formality as the SPLM holds the vast majority of seats in the assembly.

'Fragile'

Mr Amum said negotiations were under way with the north about how to go forward with the partition and he warned of the challenges ahead.

"We are a baby nation that has just been born - and like a human baby, we are fragile but have the potential to become great," AFP news agency quotes him as saying.

He said the current pound currency would be replaced by a new currency, also to be called the pound.

The referendum on independence for the oil-rich south was part of a deal to end decades of north-south conflict.

The week-long vote itself passed off peacefully, but tension remains high in parts of the oil-rich area which straddles the north and south.

Last week, some 200 people were killed in south Sudan's Jonglei state in fighting involving fighters loyal to rebel leader George Athor.

Map showing position of oilfileds in Sudan, source: Drilling info international

Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.

Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa

Although they were united for many years, the two Sudans were always very different. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

Map showing Ethnicity of Sudan, source:

Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.

Map showing infant Mortality in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The health inequalities in Sudan are illustrated by infant mortality rates. In South Sudan, one in 10 children die before their first birthday. Whereas in the more developed northern states, such as Gezira and White Nile, half of those children would be expected to survive.

Map showing percentage of households using improved water and sanitation in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The gulf in water resources between north and south is stark. In Khartoum, River Nile, and Gezira states, two-thirds of people have access to piped drinking water and pit latrines. In the south, boreholes and unprotected wells are the main drinking sources. More than 80% of southerners have no toilet facilities whatsoever.

Map showing percentage of who complete primary school education in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Throughout the two Sudans, access to primary school education is strongly linked to household earnings. In the poorest parts of the south, less than 1% of children finish primary school. Whereas in the wealthier north, up to 50% of children complete primary level education.

Map showing percentage of households with poor food consumption in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Conflict and poverty are the main causes of food insecurity in both countries. In Sudan, many of the residents of war-affected Darfur and the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, depend on food aid. The UN said about 2.8m people in South Sudan would require food aid in 2013. The northern states tend to be wealthier, more urbanised and less reliant on agriculture.

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