South Sudan: A Journey Into Tribal Heritage and Culture

The youngest country in the world and one of its least visited destinations, South Sudan is a country that should be on every serious traveler’s bucket list. Home to stunning natural beauty, the world’s second-largest animal migration – a mass migration of antelopes that simply has to be seen to be believed –  and a host of colorful and fascinating tribes who live in peace with their livestock and the land, South Sudan is one of the most unique countries you could possibly visit. Don’t delay and do yourself a favor – join a group or individual trip to South Sudan ASAP! For those who’d prefer a more personalized trip, it’s even possible to arrange a private tour tailored to your unique requirements.  

South Sudan

Name: Republic of South Sudan
Capital: Juba
Population: 11 million
Surface area: 644,329 km²
Language: English
Neighbouring countries: Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic

Highlights South Sudan

The youngest country in the world

Established in 2011 South Sudan is the world’s youngest country. It’s also the world’s youngest country demographically speaking – about half its population is 18 years old or under! 

Given that South Sudan is so young, and that it’s so infrequently visited by outsiders, it’s a shoo-in for veteran travelers who are looking to rack up their country count.


Sitting on the White Nile, the world’s youngest capital city is a must-visit when traveling to South Sudan. This fascinating city is an eclectic one, home to a small number of Christian churches and mosques, and it makes a great staging point for travels beyond the city to see the local tribes. Other highlights include the Konyo Konyo Market, John Garang Mausoleum and Jubek Tomb. Strangely enough, there is no museum in South Sudan yet, even not a national museum!

Many indigenous tribes

Home to over 60 different ethnic groups, South Sudan is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse places in the whole continent of Africa. The sheer variety of different tribes and peoples makes for one of the most eclectic and colourful places you can visit in Africa, and though the different tribes don’t always get along, the intertribal politics and relations make for fascinating stories in their own right. 

The most famous tribes in South Sudan include Mundari, Toposa, Dinka, Boya, Nuer, Jie and Bari.

Mundari tribe

A group of tribespeople who value their cattle above everything else, these nomadic people rear and care for the Ankole-Watusi, a huge breed of bovine known as the ‘cattle of kings’. The cows can grow up to eight feet tall, and each tribesman guards their own cows jealously. 

They are, in fact, so highly valued that they are almost never butchered for meat, instead being used for their milk (drunk as it comes out but also fermented into yogurt) and urine (used both aesthetically to dye hair and medicinally as an antiseptic). Their dung is also burnt and the ash is used to cover the flesh of the tribespeople, making them look something like ghosts. No matter where you visit, you’ll never meet people quite like the Mundari!

Dinka people

Noted for their impressive statures (Dinka tribespeople stand at an average of 5’11), the Dinka people of South Sudan are the largest ethnic group in the country and are as legendary for their cattle husbandry as the Mundari. A fiercely independent people, the Dinkas have been fending off outsiders and slavers since the days of the Ottoman Empire. 

The tribe is known informally as the “Tribe of Basketball” and, indeed, the tallest ever NBA player was actually a Dinka man named Manute Bol! Hugely hospitable and welcoming to outsiders, you’re guaranteed a unique and unforgettable experience when you visit the lands of the Dinka.

History of South Sudan

Whilst the actual country of South Sudan may not have all that much history (it’s only a few years old, after all), the region certainly does. 

The Nilotic peoples (who comprise most of the peoples of South Sudan, including the Dinka and the Mundari) first arrived in the area now known as South Sudan in the 10th century CE, following the fall of medieval Nubia. The Nilotics dominated the area for the next 600 years, though they eschewed permanent settlements in favor of a nomadic transhumant existence in order to properly account for the migratory patterns of their cattle. 

British colonialism of Egypt and Sudan had a lasting impact on the region, characterized primarily by the British favoring the Arab north with funding and infrastructure development at the expense of the black African southern Sudan. The influence of this was felt long after the departure of the British; in the late 50s, the continuing neglect of the South led to revolts and, eventually, the longest civil war in African history. 

After more than half a century locked in conflict with both Sudan and one another, the people of South Sudan voted almost unanimously for independence in 2011, and its people were, at long last, free from the yoke of the north and at liberty to determine their own destinies. 

South Sudan has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and its stunning natural scenery and rich, diverse cultural tapestry make it a compelling destination for any traveler. Whether an individual, group or private tour, don’t delay in booking today!

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