When the people of South Sudan went to a referendum in January last year to decide on whether to split from Sudan, the result was decisive. Nearly 99% voted in favour of independence.
After decades of instability, many Southern Sudanese hoped that separation from Sudan would end the country's troubles and pave the way for democratisation and essential development.
Sudan's neighbours breathed a sigh of relief too: Africa's largest country and one of its most volatile had split into two. This would contribute to mitigating the spill over conflicts and refugee crises that had engulfed the region.
As the world's youngest country marks its first anniversary on 9 July 2012, many will be reflecting and perhaps asking how much of their expectations have been met.
It's not a secret that South Sudan has had a challenging first year.
Several issues between the two Sudans remain unresolved. The disputed border region of Abyei: should it go north or south? This should have been decided in a referendum, but the vote has been delayed over voter eligibility.
What happens to the hundreds of thousands of people of South Sudanese origin who have been living in the north for decades, and vice versa? There are fears that these may end up stateless, following the introduction of new nationality laws in both countries.
The two countries are locked in delicate negotiations after the failure to agree on the amount the South should pay Sudan to use its oil pipelines boiled over into border clashes, leaving the two on the brink of war.
The new nation's economy is heavily reliant on oil.
It's not surprising therefore that its decision to shut down production, following the dispute, has left the economy in a precarious state.
The country's money woes are not helped by the endemic corruption in government.
Recently President Salva Kiir shocked the world when he accused his own officials of stealing at least $4bn from state resources, over a seven-year period - since 2005 when a comprehensive peace agreement ended decades of civil war.
The president said he had written to some 75 current and former senior government employees, to have the missing funds returned. "We fought for freedom, justice and equality," he said in the letter, "Yet, once we got to power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people."
At independence, South Sudan was one of the least developed countries in the world - with one of the highest maternal mortality and female illiteracy rates.
It is resource-rich, with land ripe for agricultural development, but less than 5% of land is currently cultivated.
South Sudanese believed that by controlling their own budget and resources, they could help speed up development. But a year on, there's little to show for it.
The government has been criticised for failing to restore law and order. Seven of the country's ten states are currently embroiled in either ethnic conflict or armed internal rebellion.
Just this week (Monday 25 June), the UN published a report that was heavily critical of the way in which the government of South Sudan reacted to tribal clashes that broke out in December last year.
The clashes left around 900 people dead. The UN said the South Sudanese were slow to respond to its warnings.
An estimated 100,000 people have been displaced following ethnic conflict since independence.
So one year on, how much has really changed?
Have people's expectations been met? Or has the reality of independence simply failed to live up to the hype?
What are some of the key challenges the world's newest country is facing?
Can South Sudan overcome its troubled past?
What can and needs to be done to set South Sudan on the road to a brighter future?
These are some of the questions BBC Africa Debate will be exploring from the capital Juba in this month's edition, on Friday 29 June on the BBC World Service.
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