With South Sudan's hour of independence drawing nearer, many locals are said to be in a contemplative mood, recalling their country's half-century worth of struggles on the road to becoming the world's newest nation.
"Tomorrow is a big day for the new nation, the Republic of South Sudan," 37-year-old John Kuach is quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "But some people are not happy because we lost heroes, those who were supposed to be in this celebration. So we are thinking, 'Is this true? Is this a dream? A new country?'"
And while the weekend's independence day festivities are sure to be jubilant -- with global leaders like U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice reported to be in attendance -- South Sudan will be one of the poorest and least-developed places on the planet, and unresolved tensions between the south and north could lead to fresh conflict along the new border.
Take a look at some facts and figures about South Sudan, courtesy of the Associated Press: