JUBA, South Sudan (BP)--After enduring two decades of warfare and the deaths of 2 million people, the Republic of South Sudan saw its day of independence on Saturday, July 9. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Juba, the new nation's capital, as they heard their president, Salva Kiir, declare the southern region of Sudan free and independent of the north. South Sudan's official declaration of independence was read out at 1:25 p.m., followed by Kiir being sworn in as the new nation's president. "Never again shall South Sudanese be oppressed for their political beliefs," Kiir said. "Never again shall our people be discriminated [against] on account of race or religion. Never again shall we roam the world as sojourners and refugees." The division between the north and the south is sharp. The north is arid, Arab and Muslim, while the south has many varieties of vegetation, is black African and is predominantly Christian and animistic.