This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

World's Newest Nation in Mortal Danger

South Sudan became its own country only 2 and a half years ago, gaining independence from Sudan. But inter-ethnic rivalry has been a major issue even predating independence and this week the situation seems to have gotten out of control. This is a country with a very high birth rate--an estimated 5 children per woman, and a below average life expectancy. Nearly 4 in 10 South Sudanese are under the age of 15, and so the demographics would not be favorable even under the best of circumstances. But it seems that the worst of circumstances are at hand. The BBC News reports that:
Humanitarian Co-ordinator Toby Lanzer told the BBC about summary executions in Bor, in the restive state of Jonglei that has fallen to rebels.
He said that as well as people seeking refuge at the UN base there were many more hiding out in the bush.
Clashes broke out between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and others backing his former deputy a week ago.
Meanwhile the US said it had evacuated its citizens from Bor.
They also describe the demographic situation that contributes to the inter-ethnic violence:
Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.
The Dinka and Nuer are among the more well-studied groups in the anthropological literature, emphasizing their long histories and suggesting, unfortunately, that the situation is unlikely to settle down anytime soon, especially since there are potentially profitable natural resources at play in the region.

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