The World’s Newest Capital?

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Juba at dawn: The sun rises over the main market in Juba, the south Sudanese city that may become the world's newest capital in a matter of days. In this city of just several hundred thousand people, daily life revolves around the Konyo Konyo market, where everything from fruit sales to automotive repairs take place.


Get out the vote: Two men ride through the city center of Juba with a pro-independence banner and a Southern Sudanese flag on Jan. 5. In the days and weeks leading up to the independence referendum, Juba has been a city of near-daily rallies. Men, women, and children of all ages gather across the city to urge their fellow Southern Sudanese to vote for separation from greater Sudan.


Wasting away: Despite the local enthusiasm for a new, independent Southern Sudan, the would-be national government is less prepared to take on the job. Basic services, for example, are almost nonexistent, as evidenced by this large pile of trash, one of many that go unattended throughout Juba.


A taxi to the border: Getting around Juba means catching a ride in a shared van or on a boda-boda, or motorcycle taxi. Years ago, these motorcycle taxis used to ferry people back and forth in the nebulous border region between Kenya and Uganda. The words "border to border" slowly became "boda boda" throughout the region, including here in Southern Sudan.


Vital signs: A nurse takes notes while speaking with a malaria patient at the Juba Teaching Hospital, one of the between 400 and 600 sick that Southern Sudan's largest hospital will see in a day. The single-floor, 568-bed hospital, which has expanded tremendously since 2005, receives patients from across the region seeking treatment that simply isn't available at home. Still, the conditions are basic, and the staff and facility are overstretched, with only a handful of surgeons on hand to perform the whole breadth of necessary procedures.


Aimless youth: An alarming number of homeless children and young men walk the streets of Juba, eating, sleeping, or even pausing to watch a soccer game, as the boys pictured here do. These boys are part of a group from the state of Eastern Equatoria, many of them displaced or orphaned by Sudan's two decades of north-south civil war.


Pipe dreams: There is no central piping in Juba, and no way to access clean water unless you can pay for it. The water that will be transported in these tankers was pumped from the Nile River, purified in a project sponsored by the United States, and licensed to private firms that will transport and sell it. Once it reaches Juba, the water won't be cheap; it's only affordable to those with the resources to buy it in bulk, such as the government, NGOs, or wealthy Sudanese.


A rare treat: Juba's poverty is startling, but development is coming to the city in many forms that Westerners would easily recognize. Here, a child eats soft-serve ice cream at the only vendor in town that carries it, a newly opened and fully air-conditioned local ice cream parlor. The business is evidence of the investment trickling into Southern Sudan, catering to many of the wealthier residents who live here.


Motor voters: A van passenger on a main road in Juba holds fliers urging Southern Sudanese to vote for an independent state.


Far from home: As Southern Sudan grows into a would-be state, it is host to an increasing number of expatriates -- everyone from embassy staffers and aid workers to contractors and private investors. They'll find a number of services in town meant to cater specifically to them, including the grocery store pictured here, called Jit. You'll find everything here you would in a Western market, albeit at a steep price.


The wanderers: Across Central Equatoria state, where Juba is located, displaced people and families set up tents and homes with whatever materials they can find. Most have been uprooted by cattle raids or conflicts between neighboring rural communities over arable land, grazing routes, and water and other resources. Now scattered across Juba, their dwellings are often subject to demolition whenever new real estate concessions are made or infrastructure projects undertaken.


High rollers: A Southern Sudan flag rises over the bustle of Juba. In the background near the market, a series of new white SUVs stand out, the property of either the government or international NGOs, which use them to navigate the difficult terrain outside the city.


Parliamentarians in waiting: Representative Peter Bashir Gbandi attends the May 2010 inauguration of the new Parliament of Southern Sudan, which will become the national parliament if Southern Sudan becomes independent.


Sort-of-armed forces: For a country so recently at civil war, uniformed men in Juba are surprisingly casual about their duties -- far from the image of AK-47-toting intimidators of popular imagination. Men like the soldiers on the left are just Southern Sudanese citizens most times of the day, crossing paths here with their fellow Juba dwellers in the center of town.


Hoop dreams: This basketball court in Juba has become a social hot spot for the young from all walks of life. The poor, the rich, and everyone in between comes to play here -- though it's only the government-sponsored teams of men who get the lights turned on at night. Far from just sitting around and waiting for the next war, these men and women are building their lives -- and having fun.


A new dawn: Morning means the start of business, and boda-boda riders await their clients. It's a new day in Southern Sudan.

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