On the morning of 9th January 2011, thousands of South Sudanese queued from the early hours of the morning, anticipating the opening of an historic vote that would lead them, seven months later, to celebrate their independence.
Southern Sudan's development suffered massively during the civil war, and even following the six years of peace, was largely under-developed by the time of the referendum, with less than 100km of paved roads throughout the whole region.
The cow is the national symbol of South Sudan, and hugely important to many people's livelihoods as pastoralists.
A view of the Sudd, a region of extensive swamplands where the Nile, flowing from Uganda and up through Khartoum to Egypt, almost gets lost.
Vast swathes of South Sudan are fertile, but with little agriculture above a subsistence level, the country relies on imports for much of its food needs.
A trader from one of the many barges that plies the Nile between north and south Sudan, washes in the river at dusk.
With such a poor road network -- due to infrastructure and seasonal rains -- much of the goods transported through South Sudan, particularly from Khartoum, are shipped by the river.
An air of hope filled the country as the referendum approached, with regular demonstrations and rallies celebrating the "final walk to freedom".
Thousands of South Sudanese moved en-masse from the north, including large populations who had installed themselves in the capital, Khartoum, to the south ahead of the referendum.
As people voted, thousands were still arriving in their homeland. Many of these "returnees" had either never lived in the South, or had left many years previously, and so had no house nor livelihood to return to. The World Food Programme was amongst other agencies to deliver aid to these returnees.
Hopes were high for this new nation, with people continuing to arrive well after the referendum. Here, a group of women fetch water in a settlement just outside the town of Aweil in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state.
Aid workers here expect there to be tens of thousands of people living in this area by the end of the year; an area that just a few months ago was completely uninhabited. The demands for jobs, land and resources will be massive.
Polling stations were installed throughout the country, under the eye of international monitors and the world's press.
Due to the decades of war, South Sudan has one of the highest rates of illiteracy in the world. Voting sheets included symbols for independence and secession, which were explained to each voter before they cast their ballot.
As voting closed on the 15th January, 99% of South Sudanese voters had cast their ballot.
Southerners said they were proud to vote for their country's freedom.
By January 30th, southern Sudan was ready to reveal the results of the south's ballots. Whilst the diaspora could vote in the north, and eight international countries--the results of which would be announced in Khartoum a week later--South Sudan accounted for the vast majority of the ballots.
With little surprise, nearly 100% of Southerners voted for secession.
On February 7, 2011, the full, final results were announced in Khartoum.
Nearly 99% of South Sudanese across the world had chosen secession, which was acknowledged and accepted by Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir.
Not everyone was happy, though. This Sudanese woman in Khartoum was escorted from the hall in Khartoum as she lamented that "Sudan is one country, not two".
The cost on the civil war was devastating for South Sudan's citizens, with millions fleeing the country as refugees, and many of those who stayed losing their homes, their limbs, or even their lives, in attacks.
The country now faces massive challenges of development. This woman is sitting in the only maternity in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state. In South Sudan, one in seven women die during childbirth; the worst maternal mortality rate in the world.
This hospital has reduced the rate to around 2%, but similar facilities are rare throughout the country, with the majority of mothers still relying on traditional birth attendants.
An expectant mother sits in the pre-natal clinic at Aweil hospital, as the nascent country awaits secession.
The region holds hope of opportunities for people from more developed, neighbouring countries.
This man came from neighbouring Kenya, hoping to find a better life in South Sudan. Whilst he had hoped for a better job than breaking rocks at the base of the "jebel" (mountain) at the edge of Juba, it still affords a better wage than he says he could get in his rural homeland.
A building boom is overtaking the city, with foreign investment through both private enterprises, and international governments and NGOs.
On the eve of independence, many problems still mired the South's independence. The border had still to be demarcated, the split of oil-revenues had still not been agreed, and wars threatened at the border areas.
The northern army had invaded Abyei, a disputed zone on the border. And due to conflict in South Kordofan state, the Sudanese Armed Forces had also bombed Jau, a South Sudanese border town.
Following the Jau bombings, hundreds had fled further into Unity State, taking refuge in Pariang, the state capital.
With the promise independence less than a few weeks away, South Sudan decided not to take retaliatory action for the bombing, fearing an obstacle to their independence.
Soldiers from the army of South Sudan stand at a rehearsal for the military parade that would take place during the independence day celebrations. The independence events would be historic, on par with the wave of independence that spread through Africa at the end of the colonial period.
On the day of independence itself, an air of jubilance filled the air at the Dr. John Garang Memorial in Juba, as international dignitaries assembled to welcome South Sudan as the world's 193rd nation.
From referendum to independence, the people of South Sudan celebrated nationwide their independence.
A young "boda boda" (motorcycle taxi) driver sits outside the Juba stadium as South Sudan's international football team plays its first match. The country has been flooded with affordable, Chinese motorcycles, which many people use to get around.
Basketball is unofficially the national sport of the country. Here, players who had lost limbs as a result of the war, get ready for a match coached by former NBA players, visiting South Sudan.
Oil production provides the vast majority of South Sudan's GDP. Having no oil refineries in the country, it relies on north Sudan for its export. As disputes erupted between the two countries concerning border demarcation, and transit fees for this oil, production halted and South Sudan experienced an energy crisis, sending prices rocketing.
A motorcycle taxi driver sits outside the Juba basketball courts at dusk. South Sudan's future is still precarious.