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Juba, South Sudan: the 'world's biggest village' prepares to become a capital city

Following decades of civil war, Southern Sudan is set to declare independence from the north on July 9. The Republic of South Sudan, as it will be named on Saturday, will be the world's 193rd country, the AP reported. In the southern capital, Juba, rehearsals for the independence ceremony are at an advanced stage. Let's just hope it doesn't rain on Saturday...

Pete Muller / AP

Boys take shelter from afternoon rains that disrupted a rehearsal for independence day celebrations in Juba, southern Sudan, on July 4.

Pete Muller / AP

Boys take shelter from afternoon rains in Juba on July 4. The mural behind the boys depicts a map of the united Sudan.

Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

A musician practises before the start of a rehearsal of the independence day ceremony in Juba on July 5.

Pete Muller / AP

Members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army stand at attention, during a rehearsal for independence day in the southern capital of Juba on July 5.

Pete Muller / AP

Children rehearse for independence day celebrations in Juba on July 4.

Marc Hofer / AFP - Getty Images

Vehicles drive along a road leading out of South Sudan's new capital Juba on July 41. The world's newest capital is a war-damaged city of tin-shack housing and bumpy roads, strung out along the steamy banks of the White Nile River.

A Reuters report on Monday described Juba as "lawless and chaotic, but buoyant with optimism about its future":

There are few buildings higher than two stories in the sprawling city, clearly expanding as hundreds of thousands of southerners flock back from the north and abroad.

Many hotels use tents or pre-fabs instead of investing in permanent structures. Inhabitants call it the "world's biggest village" -- some affectionately, others derisively.

Construction work is uncontrolled. Huge, unmarked holes are dug and left for days on central streets.

Government meetings are often interrupted by electricity blackouts. Unreliable diesel generators power the city in the absence of any national grid. Many southern officials have two or three phone numbers because of unreliable mobile networks.

See more images from Sudan - north and south - on PhotoBlog.