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Building South Sudan from scratch: Why some new countries are more equal than others

What makes a nation, other than its people? Is it the flag, the passport, the currency, the anthem? Or is it something more complex and harder to pin down?

In seeking to illustrate the latest in a series of Reuters special reports on the growing pains of South Sudan, photographer Adriane Ohanesian gathered a selection of objects. 

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

Photo illustrations, clockwise from top left: A South Sudanese passport; A South Sudanese five pound note; A motorcycle license plate from the new nation's Eastern Equatoria State; A copy of South Sudan's national anthem handwritten by Gabriel Arnest, one of its three composers.

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

Photo illustrations, clockwise from top left: The South Sudan national soccer team's jersey; A bottle of White Bull beer, produced in Juba; A tote bag with the slogan 'I heart Juba'; A car air freshener showing the seal of South Sudan.

Reuters reports — Not all new countries are really new. Some are born almost fully formed; others have to start from nothing.

Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters

The flag of South Sudan.

That difference is crucial to a new nation's chances of success.

More than half the youngest nations in the world were born or reborn after the collapse of communism in Europe and had existed as independent states as far back as the Middle Ages. Most regained independence with established institutions — courts, banks, police forces, schools — and skilled people to run them.

Interactive: Key measures on the world's newest countries

South Sudan, which gained full independence last year, is at the other end of the spectrum. When it won a measure of autonomy from Sudan in 2005, its roster of organized, national institutions began and ended with its army.

"In the case of South Sudan, you don't reconstruct, you don't rebuild, you start from scratch," Hilde Johnson, the U.N. Secretary General's Special representative for South Sudan, told Reuters. Read the full story.

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