Juba: Secession in Sudan
Juba is a work in progress, but as the capital of Sudan’s semiautonomous south its profile could soon increase dramatically. On Jan. 9, the Texas-sized region of some 8 million people is scheduled to hold a referendum on whether to secede from northern Sudan.
If voters choose independence – and polls suggest that they overwhelmingly will – this former garrison town would become the capital city of the world’s newest nation.
The challenges that await it are immense. After decades of conflict and neglect, southern Sudan today looks much as it did in the 19th century: a landlocked tropical expanse in the heart of East Africa, with few roads, barely functioning schools and hospitals, only a handful of capable civil servants and, apart from some promising oil fields, hardly any industry.