South Sudan had been home of semi-nomadic cattle herding peoples for most of history. It's formal ownership has changed hands from the Egyptians, Ottomans, British and Sudanese. After half a century of ethno-religious conflict South Sudan legally ceded from Sudan on 9 July 2011.
Since South Sudan is located near the Equator in the tropics, much of its landscape consists of tropical rainforest. South Sudan also has extensive swamp and grassland regions.
The White Nile, a main tributary of the Nile River, also passes through the country.
The highest point in South Sudan is Kinyeti at 10,456 feet (3,187 m).
South Sudanese culture varies by ethnicity. Zande, a Bantu people, will have very different language, legend and dance from the Shilluk, a Nilotic people.
English and Arabic (Juba Arabic) are the official languages and lingua francas of South Sudan, they are used in business, education and cross ethnic communication. Of the traditional languages Dinka is the most widely spoken language closely followed by Nuer. Jur Modo, Bari, Chollo/Shilluk, and Zande are also spoken there.
Most traditional languages are non-standard macro-languages, variations in dialect and accent are significant so universal intelligibility should not be assumed.
As South Sudan achieved independence only recently, the immigration rules are still subject to change. They have however instituted proper visas in your passport now, instead of the travel permits that were formerly used. The visas are issued for $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.
There are currently no direct commercial flights from outside Africa. So, changing planes is necessary; most airlines flying into Juba depart from Cairo (Egypt), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Entebbe (Uganda) or Nairobi (Kenya) Khartoum (Sudan) to/from where you should be able to manage flights to Europe, Asia or the Americas.
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.
Most South Sudanese is very similar to Sudanese cuisine. Restaurants for both international and local cuisine can be found in Juba and other major city centers.
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.
Fresh fruit juices are available throughout Sudan. One of the local juices is "aradeab"(tamarind).
Starting in August 2012, Sudan and South Sudan have been fighting along the border of the two countries and traveling to the Sudan-South Sudan border is very dangerous and highly discouraged! Please be very careful while you are traveling in this area, so you do not get injured or killed. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT going across the gated and secured border into Sudan. This is highly dangerous as well. Updated October 2012, due to continued violent disruptions journalist permits honored by Sudan are sporadically recognized as sufficient identification in South Sudan. Bribing is a possibility, but does not guarantee entry into South Sudan.
As with all countries a respect for the native culture is essential. Due to the multi-ethnic demography of South Sudan some people might take offense to being mistaken for others. It is best not assume a person speaks a particular language or hold particular custom which is representative of another ethnic groups.