A few weeks ago I read Dave Eggers' What is the What about the civil war in Sudan. When I posted about it, I said that one of the main things that struck me about the book was the complexity of the conflict in that part of Africa - politically, socially, and economically.
I wanted to do a short follow up post, because right now all eyes (or at least those with an interest in foreign affairs) have turned to southern Sudan, where polling is going on to see if the people that live in the south want to form an independent country, breaking Sudan into separate North and South countries.
According to the BBC, there is no doubt that the people of the south will choose independence, but the poll will only have merit if 60% of the regions 3.8 million residents turn out to participate in the poll. Right now the focus is on getting people to the polls in an orderly fashion, and so far there have been no incidents.
One issue to watch as southern Sudan makes its stride toward independence is territory boarders. Sudan does have areas that are rich in oil, that the North doesn't want to lose to the South. If the South claims areas that the North wants, there could be a fresh outburst of violence in Sudan.
The BBC has a great interactive map that you can check out for more information, or for a visual representation of how the northern and southern regions differ by ethnicity, infant mortality, water and sanitation, education, food insecurity, and the location of oil fields.