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Juba/ˈdʒuːbə/ is the capital and largest city of South Sudan. The city is situated on the White Nile and also serves as the capital of Central Equatoria State. It is the world’s newest capital city, and had a population of 525,953 in 2017. It has an area of 52 km2 (20 sq mi), with the metropolitan area covering 336 km2 (130 sq mi).
Juba is one of the newest capitals in the world. It became the capital of South Sudan when that nation was declared independent on July 9, 2011. Juba, located on the White Nile River, is the largest city in South Sudan and in 2011 it had an estimated population of 372,410 people. Since then however the population has been growing rapidly as people from Europe, Asia, and the rest of Africa flock to the city because it is the commercial hub of South Sudan’s oil industry. It is also attractive as a crossroads for travelers moving between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Uganda.
Despite its status as a new capital city, Juba has a long history. Archaeological evidence shows the area has been inhabited since 3000 BCE. In 1862 Egypt established an army post near present-day Juba which served as the southern limits of that nation’s control over Sudan. Great Britain gained control of the region in 1899. In 1922 a group of Greek traders, who supplied British garrisons in the region, established the city. Soon afterwards rebels from North and South Sudan met there to declare a unified campaign to resist British rule.
Even though their numbers never exceeded 2,000 people, from the 1920s through the 1940s Greek merchants controlled much of the commerce of the region, supplying goods for the indigenous people as well as the British. They built and operated the famous Juba Hotel in the early 1930s partly to accommodate air travel passengers since by that point Juba was a base for aircraft flying from Europe to Cape Town, South Africa.
In 1947 Juba was the site of the Juba Conference which established the single colony and eventual nation of Sudan. Many in Southern Sudan, however, were opposed to that unification and began a civil war in the colony in 1955, a year before Sudan’s independence from Great Britain. That first Sudanese civil war continued until 1972. During the second Sudanese civil war (1983-2005) rebel leaders declared Juba the capital of the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan.
The second civil war ended January 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between Sudan’s central government and South Sudan rebel leaders. The CPA gave the southern region of Sudan autonomy for six years and a vote on its final status after the six years. During this time Juba was the regional capital and in 2011 the region gained independence.
The official language of Juba and South Sudan is English, although it is not the most popular or widely spoken language, with Arabic, Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zanda, and Shilluk being spoken as well. The city has a mix of many different ethnicities and religions with Christians and Muslims as the largest groups.
When Juba officially became the capital of South Sudan, it was a city ravaged by over a half century of civil war and much of its infrastructure was destroyed during those conflicts. Moreover internal differences between rival government factions, particularly over control of oil revenues, have put the city and nation on the brink of civil war again.
Juba was established in 1920–21 by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in a small Bari village, also called Juba. The city was made as the capital of Mongalla Province in the late 1920s. The growth of the town accelerated following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, which made Juba the capital of the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan. Juba became the capital of South Sudan in 2011, but influential parties wanted Ramciel to be the capital. The government announced the move of the capital to Ramciel, but is yet to occur.
Under the Khedivate of Egypt, Juba served as the southernmost garrison of the Egyptian army, quartering only a handful of soldiers. Disease was common; soldiers often fell ill due to the malaria, meningitis and blackwater fever that was prevalent in the region. Explorers and campaigners (Sir) Samuel and Florence Baker used the nearby island of Gondokoro as a base during their expeditions to what is now South Sudan and northern Uganda from 1863 to 1865 and 1871 to 1873.
The present city of Juba was established on the site of a small Bari village, also called Juba, where the Church Missionary Society (CMS) had established a mission and the Nugent Memorial Intermediate School in 1920–21. In the late 1920s, Anglo-Egyptian officials ordered Bari residents to relocate so that a new town could be constructed to serve as the capital of Mongalla Province. The site was chosen by Anglo-Egyptian officials in part because of the presence of the CMS Nugent Memorial Intermediate School there. Major construction of the new city of Juba was underway by 1927. Traders from Rejaf relocated to the new city in 1929, and the Governor’s office of Mongalla was moved there in 1930.
Greek merchants supplying the British Army played an early and central role in the establishment of Juba in the early 1920s. Their number never exceeded 2,000, but because of their excellent relationship with the native Bari people and the large amount of resulting assistance they received, they built many structures in the downtown Juba Market area as well as in the area which the contemporary British soldiers called the Greek Quarter, today the small suburb of Hai Jalaba. Many of these structures are still standing today. Public buildings such as the Ivory Bank, Notos Lounge, the old Sudan Airways Building, Paradise Hotel, and the Nile Commercial Bank and Buffalo Commercial Bank were all built by Greeks. Greek merchants were responsible for the construction of the Central Bank building in the mid 1940s, as well as the Juba Hotel in the mid 1930s.
Until 1956, Juba was in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, which was jointly administered by the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Egypt. British hopes to join the southern part of Sudan with Uganda were dashed in 1947 during the Juba Conference, which resulted in an agreement to unify northern and southern Sudan. In 1955, a mutiny of southern soldiers in Torit sparked the First Sudanese Civil War, which did not end until 1972. During the Second Sudanese Civil War, Juba was a strategic location that was the focus of much fighting.
In 2005, Juba became the interim seat and the capital of the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (before the agreement, Rumbek had been the proposed interim capital). With the advent of peace, the United Nations increased its presence in Juba, shifting its management of operations in Southern Sudan from its previous location in Kenya. Under the leadership of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations established a camp known as “OCHA Camp”, which served as a base for many United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Juba became the world’s newest national capital on 9 July 2011, when South Sudan formally declared its independence from the Republic of the Sudan. However, influential parties including the South Sudanese government expressed dissatisfaction with the city’s suitability as a national capital, and the government proposed that a new planned city be built as a replacement capital elsewhere, most likely Ramciel in Lakes.
On 5 September 2011, the government announced the capital of South Sudan would move some 250 km away from Juba to Ramciel, which is located in the middle of South Sudan, about 60 km from Yirol West County, Lakes State. As of June 2020, the move has yet to occur.
Juba is led by a city council headed by Mayor Stephen Wani Michael. This post-independence council was formed in March 2011 and Baballa appointed to lead it by Governor Clement Wani Konga. Former Yei County Commissioner David Lokonga Moses was appointed as deputy mayor. A ministerial committee to keep Juba clean and sanitary was also created by gubernatorial decree at the same time.
Prior to March 2011, the area now administered by Juba City Council was divided into Juba, Kator, and Muniki payams. It is now a standalone subdivision of Juba County, of which it is the county seat.
In 2005, Juba’s population was 163,442. Based on analysis of aerial photos, the best estimate of several donors working in Juba calculated the 2006 population at approximately 250,000. The 5th Sudan Population and Housing Census took place in April/May 2008, stating the population of Juba County to be 372,413 (the majority residing in Juba City, which dominates the county), but the results were rejected by the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan. Juba is developing very rapidly due to oil money and the Chinese coming for work and development.[ In 2011, the population of the city of Juba is estimated at approximately 372,410, but may potentially be more. As of 2013, the city’s population was growing at a rate of 4.23%
Juba has been described as undergoing an economic boom, especially in the past five years and since independence. The prospect of an economic boom has brought thousands of merchants to Juba, mostly from northern Sudan and from East Africa. As of October 2010, several regional and international businesses have established a presence in Juba. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Kenyan banking conglomerate Kenya Commercial Bank has its South Sudanese headquarters in the city and a branch network of eleven (11) branches throughout South Sudan. The three indigenous South Sudanese commercial banks namely; Buffalo Commercial Bank, Ivory Bank and Nile Commercial Bank, all maintain their headquarters in Juba. Equity Bank, another regional finance services provider also has a branch in Juba. National Insurance Corporation (NIC), the leading Ugandan insurance services provider, maintains an office in the city. Despite recent economic difficulties brought about by the December 15th 2013 civil war, Juba has continued to grow and construction is still booming. This is probably due to the high demand for affordable housing and hotel accommodations. Research from the Overseas Development Institute found that markets in Juba are transient, as many traders only come to make a quick profit and so do not invest in storage facilities or shops.
The Juba Public Peace Library was founded in October 1, 2019. The library was donated by The South Sudan Library Foundation and contains over 13,000 books. It is the first public library of South Sudan. The South Sudan Library Foundation was co-founded by Yawusa Kintha and Kevin Lenahan.
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