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The Upper Nile region, whose western part is Wihda or Unity state, Ais considered to be one of the most challenging environments and the least developed areas in southern Sudan,@ according to the annual United Nations consolidated appeal for Sudan. AAlthough many population centers can potentially be reached by river, there is little or no access by road to many parts of the region, and access by air is limited by the substandard quality of airstrips.@56 Western Upper Nile is predominately Nuer.57 Next to the Dinka, the Nuer are the most numerous ethnic group in southern Sudan. In the nineteenth century they prevailed militarily over the Dinka and conquered Dinka territory despite Dinka numerical superiority.58

56 OCHA, U.N. Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Sudan, 1998.

57 According to one authority, the Nuer do not call themselves >Nuer.@ They are ANath@ or ANaath.@ Nuer is the name given them by the Dinka and other outsiders. Naath means Apeople.@ Bodley, Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States, and the Global System (London and Toronto: 1994).

58 Kelly, The Nuer Conquest; see also Hutchinson, Nuer Dilemmas, pp. 31-32.

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