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South Sudan Independence Anniversary: Youngest Nation In The World Celebrates First Birthday (PHOTOS)

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Women wave South Sudanese flags as they attend the country's anniversary celebrations, at the John Garang mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Shannon Jensen)
Women wave South Sudanese flags as they attend the country's anniversary celebrations, at the John Garang mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Shannon Jensen)

Thousands of South Sudanese came out on Sunday to celebrate the nation's first anniversary as an independent country. "We have fought for our right to be counted among the community of the free nations and we have earned it," South Sudanese President Salva Kiir told the crowd, according to AFP.

On July 8, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan broke away from Sudan, becoming the world's newest nation. The country's independence followed decades of war that claimed the lives of millions.

Yet as the military held a parade and dancers treated the crowds to traditional performances, South Sudan's president offered a stark reminder of the persistent insecurity in the country. "Since our independence, Khartoum has continuously violated our sovereignty through aerial bombardments and ground incursions," President Salva Kiir said, according to the AP. South Sudan and its northern neighbor Sudan remain locked in a conflict over their shared border and oil revenues.

The Associated Press explains that South Sudan also is plagued by ethnic clashes and skyrocketing inflation.

"The jubilation of independence is now tempered by the reality of a daily struggle to survive," Helen McElhinney, an Oxfam policy adviser, told the AP. "Some people are living on one meal a day and double the number of people are in need of food aid compared to last year. Refugees are enduring dire conditions in border camps with not enough water to go around."

See photos of the anniversary celebrations below.

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South Sudan Celebrates Independence Anniversary
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