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The World’s Newest Capital City

The World’s Newest Capital City

Almost one year ago, on July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became the newest nation in the world, six months after its declaration of independence from Sudan. Juba, a port city on the White Nile, is the capital of the new nation and is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Juba’s population is uncertain, but it is estimated to be roughly 350,000 to 400,000. The city has doubled in size since 2005, when a peace agreement ended the civil war in Sudan. Both hopeful immigrants and returning residents have created the population surge.

The city was a central point for humanitarian aid, and the operations base for the United Nations and non-governmental organizations during the Sudanese conflicts. Today, a significant number of foreign aid workers remain in the city. During the conflict, city infrastructure and main transportation arteries suffered heavy damage. The city is still surrounded by army camps and squatter settlements (labeled “informal built-up areas” in the image). They appear as muted gray areas extending outward from the center of the city.

The city also hosts the Juba Game Reserve, a protected area of savannah and woodlands that is home to key bird species. Since independence, a variety of countries and international organizations have helped rebuild Juba’s roads, railroads, and airport. Unfortunately, South Sudan continues to experience local wars with a variety of armed groups, including on-going conflicts with Sudan over oil-rich territories.

Astronaut photograph ISS030-E-5199 was acquired on November 26, 2011, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using a 145 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 30 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Cynthia A. Evans at NASA-JSC.