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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  • A man holds South Sudanese flags as he prepares to dance at the country's anniversary celebrations, at the John Garang mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Shannon Jensen)

  • In this photo taken Sunday, July 1, 2012 and released by Mercy Corps on Monday, July 9, 2012, refugees escaping violence on Sudan's side of the disputed border arrive in Yida refugee camp, South Sudan. (AP Photo/Mercy Corps, Cassandra Nelson)

  • In this photo taken Saturday, June 30, 2012 and released by Mercy Corps on Monday, July 9, 2012, female child refugees who escaped violence on Sudan's side of the disputed border queue up inside Yida refugee camp, South Sudan. The world's newest nation, South Sudan, is celebrating its first birthday and while the largest achievement over the last year was avoiding a return to all-out war with Sudan, thousands of refugees are streaming into the country every week to avoid violence on Sudan's side of the border. (AP Photo/Mercy Corps, Cassandra Nelson)

  • South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, center, observes a military parade at 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)

  • A man holds a South Sudanese flag as he attends the country's anniversary celebrations, at the John Garang mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Shannon Jensen)

  • A woman dances with a plastic mock gun as she attends the country's anniversary celebrations, at the John Garang mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Shannon Jensen)

  • A woman holds a South Sudanese flag as she attends the country's anniversary celebrations, at the John Garang mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Shannon Jensen)

  • A man holds a South Sudanese flag as he attends the country's anniversary celebrations, at the John Garang mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Shannon Jensen)