Wednesday, November 02, 2011

South Sudan: South Sudan beats off Libya, Fukushima, Somalia and England as "Place of the Year"

SOURCE Oxford University Press

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.

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

Finalists for Oxford's 2011 Place of the Year:


Cairo, Egypt

Fukushima, Japan

Joplin, Missouri

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The Moon


Wall Street






Palo Alto, California