Demographics of South Sudan
South Sudan is home to around 60 indigenous ethnic groups among a 2008 population of between 8.3 and 9.3 million. Its economy is predominantly at the subsistence agriculture level. As regards religion, Christianity and traditional beliefs predominate. Some people practice syncretisms of Christian and indigenous religions.
Linguistic diversity is much greater in the southern half of the country. In the north, over 90% of the people belong to either the Dinka (population over 1.5 million) or the Nuer (over 800,000), two peoples which are closely related linguistically and in other ways. These two groups are also the largest two in South Sudan overall. Both the Dinka and Nuer are fragmented into chains of socially and politically separate communities. Dinka is a sociolinguistic language and its dialects are not all mutually intelligible.
The "Fifth Population and Housing Census of Sudan", of Sudan as a whole, was conducted in April 2008. However the census results of Southern Sudan were rejected by Southern Sudanese officials as reportedly "the central bureau of statistics in Khartoum refused to share the national Sudan census raw data with southern Sudan centre for census, statistic and evaluation." The census showed the Southern Sudan population to be 8.26 million, however President Kiir had "suspected figures were being deflated in some regions and inflated in others, and that made the final tally 'unacceptable'." He also claimed the Southern Sudanese population to really be one-third of Sudan, while the census showed it to be only 22%. Many Southern Sudanese were also said to not have been counted "due to bad weather, poor communication and transport networks, and some areas were unreachable, while many Southern Sudanese remained in exile in neighbouring countries, leading to 'unacceptable results', according [to] southern Sudanese authorities." The chief American technical adviser for the census in the South said the census-takers probably reached 89% of the population. If this estimate is correct, the size of the South Sudanese population is about 9.28 million.
The population count was a determining factor for the share of wealth and power each part of Sudan received. Among the accusations made against the census were that the Sudanese government deliberately manipulated the census in oil-rich regions such as the Abyei district, on the border between northern Sudan and southern Sudan. Another complication is the large population of South Sudanese refugees in the north. The central government inhibited their return.
In 2009, Sudan started a new Southern Sudanese census ahead of the 2011 independence referendum, which is said to also include the Southern Sudanese diaspora. However this initiative was criticised as it was to leave out countries with a high share of the Southern Sudanese diaspora, and rather count countries where the diaspora share was low.
In South Sudan, the educational system is modelled after that of the Republic of Sudan. Primary education consists of eight years, followed by three years of secondary education, and then four years of university instruction; the 8 + 3 + 4 system, in place since 1990. The primary language at all levels is English, as compared to the Republic of Sudan, where the language of instruction is Arabic. There is a severe shortage of English teachers and English-speaking teachers in the scientific and technical fields.
Illiteracy rates are high in the country. In 2011, it is estimated that more than 80% of the South Sudanese population cannot read or write. The challenges are particularly severe when it comes to the girl-child. South Sudan has proportionately fewer girls going to school than any other country in the world. According to UNICEF, fewer than one per cent of girls complete primary education. Only one schoolchild in four is a girl and female illiteracy is the highest in the world. Education is a priority for the Southern Sudanese and they are keen to make efforts to improve the education system.
South Sudan is home to around 60 indigenous ethnic groups. About 40% of South Sudanese, among them the Dinka, speak one of the Nilo-Saharan languages, an extremely diverse language family. Nilo-Saharan languages spoken in South Sudan include both Nilotic and non-Nilotic. The other 5% speak languages from the Ubangian family; they occupy the southwest of the country. The most widely spoken Ubangian language in South Sudan is Zande.
In order to maintain ethnic harmony in a part of the world in which tribal conflict is relatively commonplace, one group has proposed the creation of a "House of Nationalities" to represent all 62 recognised groups in Juba. President Salva Kiir Mayardit declared at the ceremony marking South Sudanese independence on 9 July 2011 that the country "should have a new beginning of tolerance where cultural and ethnic diversity will be a source of pride".
There are over 60 indigenous languages in South Sudan. The indigenous languages with the most speakers are Dinka, Nuer, Bari, and Zande. In the capital city, an Arabic pidgin known as Juba Arabic is used by several thousand people. English is the country's official language.
Religions followed by the South Sudanese include traditional indigenous religions, Christianity and Islam - sources differ regarding proportions. Some scholarly and U.S. Department of State sources state that a majority of southern Sudanese maintain traditional indigenous (sometimes referred to as Animist) beliefs with those following Christianity in a minority (albeit an influential one). Likewise, according to the Federal Research Division of the US Library of Congress: "in the early 1990s possibly no more than 10% of southern Sudan's population was Christian". In the early 1990s, official records of Sudan claimed that from population of what then included South Sudan, 17% of people followed traditional religions and 8% were Christians. However, some news reports claim a Christian majority, and the US Episcopal Church claims the existence of large numbers of Anglican adherents from the Episcopal Church of the Sudan: 2 million members in 2005. Likewise, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the Catholic Church is the largest single Christian body in Sudan since 1995, with 2.7 million Catholics mainly concentrated in South Sudan. The Pew Research Center likewise suggests that around 60% of the South Sudanese population are Christian, with around 33% following 'folk religions'. 
Speaking at Saint Theresa Cathedral in Juba, South Sudanese President Kiir, a Roman Catholic who has a Muslim son, stated that South Sudan would be a nation which respects the freedom of religion. Amongst Christians, most are Catholic and Anglican, though other denominations are also active, and animist beliefs are often blended with Christian beliefs.
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