This Christian-majority country has existed as a nation only since July 2011, when it gained independence from Sudan. Prior to this the region was ravaged by decades of civil war (1983-2005), during which much of its infrastructure was devastated. Great hope and optimism amongst Christians accompanied South Sudan's secession, as it meant freedom from the risk of being subject to sharia law, which the North had previously tried to impose on it.
The celebrations have however been short-lived. This young country has been racked with violence, leading to thousands killed and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes. The latest violence began on 7 July 2016 in the capital Juba, just as South Sudan was preparing to celebrate its fifth anniversary.
Southern Christians who remain in Sudan are also endangered. Thousands of South Sudanese Christians are trapped there, unable to return home owing to a lack of resources. They fled to the North to escape the fighting during the civil war. Since independence, Southerners have been stripped of their rights as citizens, and their presence is provoking increasing hostility from the government. Khartoum appears to be trying to rid Sudan of any Christian presence; South Sudan has thus seen an influx of Christian refugees fleeing persecution, many of whom have no choice but to live in camps near the border.