The Egyptians conquered Sudan in 1874 and established the province of Equatoria. Islamic Mahdist revolutionaries overran the region in 1885, but in 1898 a British force was able to overthrow the Mahdist regime.

An Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was established the following year with Equatoria being the southernmost of its eight provinces. The region was largely left to itself over the following decades, but Christian missionaries converted much of the population and facilitated the spread of English.

Egypt and Britain ruled Sudan until 1953, when Anglo-Egyptian Sudan granted Sudan self-government. In 1955, army officers in the south mutinied, sparking a civil war between the north and south. Southerners accused the government of trying to force Islamic and Arab culture on the south. When Sudan gained its independence on January 1, 1956, it was with the understanding that the southerners would be able to participate fully in the political system.

When the Arab Khartoum government reneged on its promises, a mutiny began that led to a civil war that dragged on until the 1972 signing of the Addis Ababa Agreement. About 500,000 people died in the war. Under the accord, the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was formed.

War broke out again in 1983 when President Gaafar Mohamed Nimeiri abrogated the treaty and declared Sudan a Muslim state, ruled by Shariah law. Southern rebels formed the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and fought the government. Government troops unleashed vicious massacres against civilians and entire villages. A cease-fire was declared between the Sudanese government and the SPLA in July 2002. Fighting on both sides continued throughout the peace negotiations.

A Comprehensive Peace Agreement was reached on January 9, 2005 between the southern rebels, led by John Garang of the SPLA, and the Khartoum government, ending Africa's longest-running civil war. Under the deal, roughly half of Sudan's oil wealth was given to the south, as well as nearly complete autonomy and the right to secede after six years. Two weeks after Garang was sworn in as first vice president, he was killed in a helicopter crash during bad weather. Rioting erupted in Khartoum. Garang's deputy, Salva Kiir, was sworn in as the new vice president.

In July 2009, an international tribunal at The Hague redefined the border of Sudan's oil-rich Abyei region, giving the North rights to the Heglig oil field, and the South retained rights to other oil fields in Abyei.

In April 2010 elections, Salva Kiir, head of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), was re-elected president of the semi-autonomous South. He opted not to run for national president, choosing instead to remain the leader of southern Sudan.

A referendum on independence for Southern Sudan was held in January 2011, with 98.83% of the electorate opting for secession. The President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, accepted the results and issued a Republican Decree confirming the outcome of the referendum.

In April 2011, President Omar Al-Bashir said he would not recognize the independence of South Sudan if its government claims the Abyei region, which is part of South Kordofan state. On May 21, 2011, the Armed Forces of Sudan seized control of Abyei, which the south Sudanese government called an act of war. More than 20,000 people fled and the United Nations sent an envoy to intervene.

The Republic of South Sudan declared its independence on July 9, 2011 and became Africa's 54th state. Thousands celebrated in the streets of South Sudan's capital, Juba. Salva Kiir became the first president of the republic and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement became the ruling party.

Sudan and South Sudan teetered on the brink of border war in April 2012. South Sudan took over disputed oil fields in Heglig. President Omar al-Bashir said he would not negotiate with South Sudan. The South withdrew from the contested region, but the aggression continued.

Sudan and South Sudan reached an oil deal on August 4, 2012. South Sudan agreed to compensate Sudan for the use of its oil pipeline.

Sudan and South Sudan reached an agreement in March 2013, brokered by the African Union, to resume oil production.

In July 2013, President Salva Kiir, dismissed his cabinet and vice-president, Riek Machar. In December, Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup. Fighting broke out in Juba between government troops and rebels loyal to Machar. Rebels took control of Unity and Upper Nile.

In an unofficial referendum held on October 31, 2013, registered voters from the Dinka Ngok tribe voted to join South Sudan. The results were not recognized by the governments of either Sudan nor South Sudan.

Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya negotiated a cease-fire on December 31, 2013. The government and rebels signed the cease-fire in late January 2014, but both sides violated the cease-fire.

In April 2014, pro-Machar rebels sacked the oil town of Bentiu and killed hundreds of civilians, targeting anyone suspected of supporting Kiir.

© 2014 World Ministries International