The flag bears striking similarities with both the flags of Sudan (from which Southern Sudan seceded in 2011), and Kenya. It shares the black, white, red, and green of the Sudanese flag (though different symbolism is given to the colours), in addition to having a chevron along the hoist. The horizontal black, white, red, and green bands of the flag share the same design as the Kenyan flag, and the Pan-African symbolism thereof.
The Southern Sudanese government also specifies that the colours of the flag are to represent:
Black: Black African skin.
Red: Blood that was shed by the liberation struggle martyrs.
Green: The country's natural resources and verdant land.
White: Peace attained after many years of the liberation struggle.
Blue: Waters of the Nile River, a source of life for the country.
Yellow: The unity of the states making up South Sudan.