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Kingdom of Swaziland
Umbuso weSwatini
Flag Coat of arms
"Siyinqaba" (Swati)
"We are a fortress"
"We are a mystery/riddle"
"We hide ourselves away"
Nkulunkulu Mnikati wetibusiso temaSwati
Oh God, Bestower of the Blessings of the Swazi

Location of  Swaziland  (dark blue)

– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union  (light blue)


Largest city Mbabane
Official languages
Demonym Swazi
Government Unitary parliamentary absolute monarchy
 -  King Mswati III
 -  Ndlovukati Ntfombi Tfwala
 -  Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini
Legislature Parliament of Swaziland
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house House of Assembly
 -  from the United Kingdom 6 September 1968 
 -  Total 17,364 km2 (157th)
6,704 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.9
 -  2014 estimate 1,106,000[1] (154th)
 -  2007 census 1,018,449
 -  Density 68.2/km2 (135th)
176.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $7.039 billion[1]
 -  Per capita $6,367[1]
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $3.822 billion[1]
 -  Per capita $3,457[1]
Gini (2010) 51.5[2]
HDI (2013) Steady 0.530[3]
low · 148th
Currency South African rand
Swazi lilangeni (SZL)
Time zone SAST (UTC+2)
Drives on the Right- and left-hand traffic
Calling code +268
ISO 3166 code SZ
Internet TLD .sz

Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland ( or ; Swazi: Umbuso weSwatini) and sometimes called kaNgwane or Eswatini,[4] is a sovereign state in Southern Africa surrounded – with the exception of Mozambique to its east – by South Africa. It and its ethnic people take their names from Mswati II, the 19th-century king under whose rule Swazi territory was expanded and unified.[5]

Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa. It is no more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) north to south and 130 kilometres (81 mi) east to west. Regardless, the country has a very diverse topography of varying climate with a cool and mountainous highveld and a hot and dry lowveld. The population is primarily ethnic Swazis whose language is siSwati. They established their kingdom in the mid 18th century under the leadership of Ngwane III; the present boundaries were drawn up in 1881.[6] After the Anglo-Boer War, Swaziland was a British protectorate from 1903 until 1967, regaining independence on 6 September 1968.[7]

The country is the last absolute monarchy in Africa.[8] It is currently ruled by King (Ngwenyama) Mswati III.[9] The king is head of state and appoints the prime minister and a number of representatives of both chambers of parliament. Elections are held every five years to determine the majority of the house of assembly. The current constitution was adopted in 2005. Swaziland is a member of the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Swaziland is a developing country, with a small economy. It is classified as a lower-middle-income country with a GDP per capita of $6,367.[1] With membership in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and COMESA, its main trading partners are South Africa, United States,[10] European Union,[11] and the country's currency, the lilangeni, is pegged to the South African Rand. The agriculture and manufacturing sectors of the country's economy are responsible for the majority of employment.

The Swazi population faces major health issues. HIV/AIDS, and to a lesser extent, tuberculosis are the main health challenges.[12][13] As of year 2013, Swaziland has an estimated life expectancy of 50 years.[14] The population of Swaziland is fairly young with a median age of 20.5 years with people 14 years old and below making up 37.4% of the total population.[15] The present population growth rate is 1.195%.[15][16]

Swaziland is well known for its culture.[17][18] Umhlanga, held in the month of August/September,[19] and incwala, the dance of the kingship held in December/January, are the most important national events.[20]


  • History 1
  • Government and politics 2
    • Elections 2.1
  • Administrative divisions 3
    • Regions, cities and towns 3.1
  • Geography and climate 4
  • Economy 5
  • Health 6
  • Culture 7
  • Education 8
    • Higher education 8.1
    • Libraries 8.2
  • Demographics 9
    • Languages 9.1
    • Religion 9.2
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Artifacts indicating human activity dating back to the early Stone Age 200,000 years ago have been found in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Prehistoric rock art paintings date from c. 25,000 BC and continuing up to the 19th century can be found in various places around the country.

The earliest known inhabitants of the region were Khoisan hunter-gatherers. They were largely replaced by the Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations who hailed from the Great Lakes regions of eastern and central Africa. Evidence of agriculture and iron use dates from about the 4th century and people speaking languages ancestral to current Sotho and Nguni languages began settling no later than the 11th century. The Swazi settlers, then known as the Ngwane (or bakaNgwane), before entering Swaziland had been settled on the banks of the Pongola River and prior to that in the area of the Tembe River near present day Maputo. Continuing conflict with the Ndwandwe people pushed them further north, with Ngwane III establishing his capital at Shiselweni at the foot of the Mhlosheni hills. Under Sobhuza I, the Ngwane people eventually established their capital at Zombodze in the heartland of present-day Swaziland. In this process, they conquered and incorporated the long established clans of the country known to the Swazi as Emakhandzambili.[21]

A 19th-century Swazi artifact

The country now derives its name from a later king named Mswati II. KaNgwane, named for Ngwane III, is an alternative name for Swaziland the surname of whose royal house remains Nkhosi Dlamini. Nkhosi literally means "king". Mswati II was the greatest of the fighting kings of Swaziland, and he greatly extended the area of the country to twice its current size. The Emakhandzambili clans were initially incorporated into the kingdom with wide autonomy, often including grants of special ritual and political status. The extent of their autonomy however was drastically curtailed by Mswati, who attacked and subdued some of them in the 1850s.[21] With his power, Mswati greatly reduced the influence of the Emakhandzambili while incorporating more people into his kingdom either through conquest or by giving them refuge. These later arrivals became known to the Swazis as Emafikamuva. The clans who accompanied the Dlamini kings were known as the Bemdzabuko or true Swazi.

Swaziland in Southern Africa, 1896.

The autonomy of the Swaziland nation was influenced by British and Dutch rule of southern Africa in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1881 the British government signed a convention recognising Swazi independence despite the Scramble for Africa that was taking place at the time. This independence was also recognised in the convention of 1884. However, because of controversial land/mineral rights and other concessions, Swaziland had a triumviral administration in 1890 following the death of King Mbandzeni in 1889. This government represented the British, the Dutch republics and the Swazi people. Finally, in 1894, a convention placed Swaziland under the South African Republic as a protectorate. This continued under the rule of Ngwane V until the outbreak of the Second Boer War in October 1899. King Ngwane V passed away in December 1899 during incwala after the outbreak of the Boer war when his successor, Sobhuza, was only four months old. Swaziland was indirectly involved in the war with various skirmishes between the British and the Boers occurring in the country until 1902.

In 1903, after British victory in the Anglo-Boer war, Swaziland became a British protectorate. Much of its early administration (for example, postal services) being carried out from South Africa until 1906 when the Transvaal colony was granted self-government. Following this, Swaziland was partitioned into European and non-European (or native reserves) areas with the former being two-thirds of the total land. Sobhuza's official coronation was in December 1921 after the regency of Labotsibeni after which he led an unsuccessful deputation to the Privy council in London in 1922 regarding the issue of the land.[22] In the period between 1923 and 1963, Sobhuza established the Swazi Commercial Amadoda which was to grant licences to small businesses on the Swazi reserves and also established the Swazi National School to counter the dominance of the missions in education. His stature grew with time and the Swazi royal leadership was successful in resisting the weakening power of the British administration and the incorporation of Swaziland into the Union of South Africa.[22]

The constitution for independent Swaziland was promulgated by Britain in November 1963 under the terms of which legislative and executive councils were established. This development was opposed by the Swazi National Council (liqoqo). Despite such opposition, elections took place and the first Legislative Council of Swaziland was constituted on 9 September 1964. Changes to the original constitution proposed by the Legislative Council were accepted by Britain and a new constitution providing for a House of Assembly and Senate was drawn up. Elections under this constitution were held in 1967. Swaziland was then briefly a Protected State until 1968, when independence was regained.

Following the elections of 1973, the constitution of Swaziland was suspended by King Sobhuza II who thereafter ruled the country by decree until his death in 1982. At this point Sobhuza II had ruled Swaziland for 61 years, making him the longest ruling monarch in history. A regency followed his death, with Queen Regent Dzeliwe Shongwe being head of state until 1984 when she was removed by Liqoqo and replaced by Queen Mother Ntfombi Tfwala. Mswati III, the son of Ntfombi, was crowned king on 25 April 1986 as King and Ingwenyama of Swaziland.

The 1990s saw a rise in student and labour protests pressuring the king to introduce reforms. Thus, progress toward constitutional reforms began, culminating with the introduction of the current Swaziland constitution in 2005. This happened despite objections by political activists. The current constitution does not clearly deal with the status of political parties. The first election under the new constitution, took place in 2008. Members of parliament were elected from 55 constituencies (also known as tinkhundla ). These MPs served five-year terms which ended in 2013. In 2011, Swaziland suffered an economic crisis, due to reduced Sibusiso Dlamini, by the king, as prime minister for the third time.

Government and politics

Ingwenyama Mswati III has been king of Swaziland since 1986.

Swaziland is an absolute monarchy with constitutional provisions and Swazi Law and customs.[23] The head of state is the king or Ngwenyama (lit. Lion), currently King Mswati III, who ascended to the throne in 1986 after the death of his father King Sobhuza II in 1982 and a period of regency. According to the constitution of Swaziland, the King and Ingwenyama is a symbol of unity and the eternity of the Swazi nation.[24] By tradition, the king reigns along with his mother or a ritual substitute, the Ndlovukati (lit. She-Elephant). The former was viewed as the administrative head of state and the latter as a spiritual and national head of state, with real power counterbalancing that of the king, but, during the long reign of Sobhuza II, the role of the Ndlovukati became more symbolic. The king appoints the prime minister from the legislature and also appoints a minority of legislators to both chambers of the Libandla (parliament) with help from an advisory council. The king is allowed by the constitution to appoint some members to parliament for special interests. These special interests are citizens who might have been left out by the electorate during the course of elections or did not enter as candidates. This is done to balance views in parliament. Special interests could be people of gender, race, disability, the business community, civic society, scholars, chiefs and so on. The Senate consists of 30 members, of which some are appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and others elected by the lower house. The House of Assembly has 65 seats, 55 of which are occupied by elected representatives from the 55 constituencies around the country, 10 appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and the attorney general ex-officio. Elections are held every five years.

On 6 September 1968, Swaziland adopted a

  • Swaziland entry at The World Factbook
  • Swaziland from UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Swaziland at DMOZ
  • Swaziland from the BBC News
  • Central Business Institute Swaziland
  • Swazi Live Swaziland accommodation and business directory
  • Key Development Forecasts for Swaziland from International Futures
  • Government of Swaziland
  • Swaziland Tourism Authority
  • Swaziland Internet Cafe directory
  • Photographs of Swaziland Wildlife – Hlane Royal National Park, Mkhaya Game Reserve
  • Grace Christian Fellowship Church International

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Swaziland". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Gini Index". World Bank. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "2014 Human Development Report Summary". United Nations Development Programme. 2014. pp. 21–25. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  4. ^ H.M. Mswati III. Speech from the throne 2014. Government of Swaziland. 
  5. ^ Kuper, Hilda (1986). The Swazi: A South African Kingdom. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. pp. 9–10. 
  6. ^ Bonner, Philip (1982). Kings, Commoners and Concessionaires. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press. pp. 9–27.  
  7. ^ Gillis, Hugh (1999). The Kingdom of Swaziland: Studies in Political History. Greenwood Publishing Group.  
  8. ^ Tofa, Moses (2013-05-16). "Swaziland: Wither absolute monarchism?". Pambazuka News (630). Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  9. ^ "Swaziland: Africa′s last absolute monarchy". Deutsche Welle. 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  10. ^ "Swaziland | Office of the United States Trade Representative". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  11. ^ "Swaziland". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  12. ^ "Projects : Swaziland Health, HIV/AIDS and TB Project". The World Bank. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  13. ^ Swaziland: Dual HIV and Tuberculosis Epidemic Demands Urgent Action updated 18 November 2010
  14. ^ a b "The World Factbook". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  15. ^ a b "Swaziland Demographics Profile 2013". 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  16. ^ United Nations World Population Prospects: 2006 revision – Table A.8
  17. ^ "Swazi Culture". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  18. ^ "Swaziland National Trust Commission – Cultural Resources – Swazi Culture". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  19. ^ "Swaziland National Trust Commission – Cultural Resources – Swazi Culture – The Umhlanga or Reed Dance". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  20. ^ "Swaziland National Trust Commission – Cultural Resources – Swazi Culture – The Incwala or Kingship Ceremony". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  21. ^ a b Bonner, Philip (1983). Kings, Commoners and Concessionaires: The Evolution and Dissolution of the Nineteenth-Century Swazi State. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press. See esp. pp. 60, 85–88.
  22. ^ a b Vail, Leroy (1991). The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa. University of California Press. pp. 295–296.  
  23. ^ "Our governance". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  24. ^ The Constitution of The Kingdom of Swaziland Act, 2005, Chapter 1, Section 4(2)
  25. ^ a b c "Swaziland: Tinkhundla electoral system". Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  26. ^ Africa South of the Sahara 2004, Europa Publications, page 1096
  27. ^ Africa South of the Sahara 2004, Europa Publications, page 1097
  28. ^ "Swaziland Elections & Boundaries Commission". 2013-09-23. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  29. ^ "BBC News – Swaziland votes in no-party election". 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  30. ^ "Swaziland: Elections and Boundaries Commission". EISA. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  31. ^ "Swaziland: Tinkhundla electoral system". EISA. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  32. ^ "Conduct of elections in Swaziland" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  33. ^ "Swaziland: Electoral system". EISA. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  34. ^ "Country Profile: Swaziland: The local government system in Swaziland". Commonwealth Local Government Forum. 2013-05-16. Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  35. ^, Inc. "Map of Swaziland". Retrieved 29 December 2009. 
  36. ^ a b "Swaziland, Mortality Country Fact Sheet 2006". WHO. Retrieved 22 November 2009. 
  37. ^ "UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic 2010 Annex 1 – HIV and AIDs estimates and data, 2009 and 2001. UNAIDS" (PDF). Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  38. ^ "World Population Prospects: 2008 Revision. United Nations" (PDF). Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  39. ^ "Causes of death in US, 2006". CDC. Retrieved 22 November 2009. 
  40. ^ "UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  41. ^ "Swaziland: A culture that encourages HIV/AIDS".  
  42. ^ "Swaziland: An MSF Doctors Explains HIV-TB Co-Infection". USA:  
  43. ^ a b "Human Development Report 2009 – Swaziland". Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  44. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  45. ^ "Early Childhood & Care Education". 2010-09-22. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  46. ^ "Primary Education". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  47. ^ "Secondary Education". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  48. ^ a b Ministry of Education. "School Lists". Swaziland Govt. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  49. ^ a b c "2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor".  
  50. ^ "PROGRAMME: Good Shepherd Hospital, Siteki, Swaziland | CBM International". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  51. ^ Hester Klopper (2012). The State of Nursing and Nursing Education in Africa. Sigma Theta Tau.  
  52. ^ "History | University of Swaziland". 1975-10-20. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  53. ^ "Church of the Nazarene Africa Region | Africa South". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  54. ^ "Southern Africa Nazarene University launched in Swaziland – Nazarene Communications Network". 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  55. ^ "Swaziland Christian University » Our Vision and Mission". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  56. ^ "Swaziland Christian University » Contact us". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  57. ^ Rooney, Richard (2012-11-15). "Swaziland: Limkokwing Reduces Minister to Tears (Page 1 of 2)". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  58. ^ "SCOT to become Swaziland University of Science and Technology Swaziland News". 2013-11-09. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  59. ^ "SCOT welcomes you!". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  60. ^ "Welcome To IDM". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  61. ^ Company History | Mananga
  62. ^ "National Library Services". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  63. ^ "Library Partner – Swaziland National Library Service". Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  64. ^ "About Swala". 1984-04-28. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  65. ^ U.S. Department of State. "Background Note:Swaziland". Retrieved 29 December 2009. 
  66. ^ M. Paul Lewis (2009). "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition". Retrieved 29 December 2009. 
  67. ^ Religious Intelligence. "Country Profile: Swaziland (Kingdom of Swaziland)". Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. 
  68. ^ Maltz, Judy. "A black Swazi Jew defends his people in Hungary". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 


See also

83% of the total population adheres to Christianity, making it the most common religion in Swaziland. Anglican, Protestant and indigenous African churches, including African Zionist, constitute the majority of the Christians (40%), followed by Roman Catholicism at 20% of the population. On 18 July 2012, the Rev Ellinah Wamukoya, was elected Anglican Bishop of Swaziland, becoming the first woman bishop in Africa. 15% of the population follows traditional religions; other non-Christian religions practised in the country include Islam (1%), the Bahá'í Faith (0.5%), and Hinduism (0.2%).[67] There are 14 Jewish families.[68]


About 76,000 people in the country speak Zulu.[66] Tsonga, which is spoken by many people throughout the region is spoken by about 19,000 people in Swaziland. Afrikaans is also spoken by some residents of Afrikaner descent.

SiSwati[65] (also known as Swati, Swazi or Siswati) is a Bantu language of the Nguni Group, spoken in Swaziland and South Africa. It has 2.5 million speakers and is taught in schools. It is an official language of Swaziland (along with English) and one of the official languages of South Africa. English is the medium of communication in schools and in conducting business including the press.


Swaziland also received Portuguese settlers and African refugees from Mozambique. Christianity in Swaziland is sometimes mixed with traditional beliefs and practices. Many traditionalists believe that most Swazi ascribe a special spiritual role to the monarch. As a result of the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS, residents of Swaziland have the lowest documented life expectancy in the world at 31.88 years, less than half the world average of 69.4.[14]

The majority of Swaziland's population is ethnically Swazi, mixed with a small number of Zulu and White Africans, mostly people of British and Afrikaner descent. Traditionally Swazi have been subsistence farmers and herders, but most now mix such activities with work in the growing urban formal economy and in government. Some Swazi work in the mines in South Africa.

Population growth in Swaziland


[64] It is headquartered at the public library in [62] The Swaziland National Library Service is the national library department under the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology.


In addition to these institutions, Swaziland also has the Swaziland Institute of Management and Public Administration (SIMPA) and Institute of Development Management (IDM). SIMPA is a government owned management and development institute and IDM is a regional organisation in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland that provides training, consultancy, and research in management.[60] The Mananga management centre was established as Mananga Agricultural Management Centre in 1972 as an International Management Development Centre catering for middle and senior managers, it is located at Ezulwini.[61]

The main centre for technical training in Swaziland is the Swaziland College of Technology which is slated to become a full university.[58] It aims to provide and facilitating high quality training and learning in technology and business studies in collaboration with the Commercial, Industrial and Public Sectors.[59] Other technical and vocational institutions are the Gwamile Vocational and Commercial Training Institute located in Matsapha and the Manzini Industrial and Training Centre (MITC) in Manzini. Other vocational institutions include Nhlangano Agricultural Skills Training Center and Siteki Industrial Training Centre.

The University of Swaziland is the national university which was established in 1982 by act of parliament and is headquartered at Kwaluseni with two more campuses in Mbabane and Luyengo.[52] The Southern African Nazarene University (SANU) was established in 2010 as a merger of the Nazarene College of Nursing, College of Theology and the Nazarene Teachers College. It is located in Manzini next to the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital.[53][54] The Swaziland Christian University is Swaziland's newest university having been established in 2012 with focus on medical education.[55] The university is located in Mbabane.[56] The campus of Limkokwing University was opened in Swaziland in 2012 and is located at Sidvwashini in Mbabane.[57]

The University of Swaziland, Southern African Nazarene University, Swaziland Christian University are the institutions that offer university education in the country. A campus of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology can be found at Sidvwashini, a suburb of the capital Mbabane. There are some teaching and nursing assistant colleges around the country. Ngwane Teacher's College and William Pitcher College are the country's teaching colleges. The Good Shepherd Hospital in Siteki is home to the College for Nursing Assistants.[50][51]

Higher education

Adult and non-formal education centres are Sebenta National Institute for adult basic literacy and Emlalatini Development Centre which provides alternative educational opportunities for school children and young adults who have not been able to complete their schooling.

There are 830 public schools in Swaziland including primary, secondary and high schools.[48] There also 34 recognised private schools with an additional 14 unrecognised. The biggest number of schools is in the Hhohho region.[48] Education in Swaziland as of 2009 is free at primary level mainly first through the fourth grade and also free for orphaned and vulnerable children but not compulsory.[49] In 1996, the net primary school enrolment rate was 90.8%, with gender parity at the primary level.[49] In 1998, 80.5% of children reached grade five.[49] Swaziland is home to a United World College. In 1963 Waterford school, later named Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa, was founded as southern Africa's first multiracial school. In 1981 Waterford Kamhlaba joined the United World Colleges movement as the first and only United World College on the African continent.

Education in Swaziland begins with pre-school education for infants, primary, secondary and high school education for general education and training (GET), and universities and colleges at tertiary level. Pre-school education is usually for children 5-year or younger after that the students can enroll in a primary school anywhere in the country. In Swaziland early childhood care and education (ECCE) centres are in the form of preschools or neighbourhood care points (NCPs). In the country 21.6% of preschool age children have access to early childhood education.[45] Primary education in Swaziland begins at the age of six. It is a seven-year programme that culminates with an end of Primary school Examination [SPC] in grade 7 which is a locally based assessment administered by the Examinations Council through schools. Primary Education is from grade 1 to grade 7.[46] The secondary and high school education system in Swaziland is a five-year programme divided into three years junior secondary and two years senior secondary. There is an external public examination (Junior Certificate) at the end of the junior secondary that learners have to pass to progress to the senior secondary level. The Examination Council of Swaziland (ECOS) administers this examination. At the end of the senior secondary level, learners sit for a public examination, the Swaziland General Certificate of Secondary Education (SGCSE) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) which is accredited by the Cambridge International Examination (CIE). A few schools offer the Advanced Studies (AS) programme in their curriculum.[47]


Swaziland is also known for a strong presence in the handcrafts industry. The formalised handcraft businesses of Swaziland employ over 2,500 people, many of whom are women (per TechnoServe Swaziland Handcrafts Impact Study," February 2011). The products are unique and reflect the culture of Swaziland, ranging from housewares, to artistic decorations, to complex glass, stone, or wood artwork.

Today's Reed Dance is not an ancient ceremony, but developed out of the old "umchwasho" custom. In "umchwasho", all young girls were placed in a female age-regiment. If any girl became pregnant outside of marriage, her family paid a fine of one cow to the local chief. After a number of years, when the girls had reached a marriageable age, they would perform labour service for the Queen Mother, ending with dancing and feasting. The country was under the chastity rite of "umchwasho" until 19 August 2005.

Swaziland's most well-known cultural event is the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance. In the eight-day ceremony, girls cut reeds and present them to the queen mother and then dance. (There is no formal competition.) It is done in late August or early September. Only childless, unmarried girls can take part. The aims of the ceremony are to preserve girls' chastity, provide tribute labour for the Queen mother, and to encourage solidarity by working together. The royal family appoints a commoner maiden to be "induna" (captain) of the girls and she announces over the radio the dates of the ceremony. She will be an expert dancer and knowledgeable on royal protocol. One of the King's daughters will be her counterpart.

Every Swazi may take part in the public parts of the Incwala. The climax of the event is the fourth day of the Big Incwala. The key figures are the King, Queen Mother, royal wives and children, the royal governors (indunas), the chiefs, the regiments, and the "bemanti" or "water people".

The most important cultural event in Swaziland is the Incwala ceremony. It is held on the fourth day after the full moon nearest the longest day, 21 December. Incwala is often translated in English as 'first fruits ceremony', but the King's tasting of the new harvest is only one aspect among many in this long pageant. Incwala is best translated as 'Kingship Ceremony' : when there is no king, there is no Incwala. It is high treason for any other person to hold an Incwala.

The Sangoma is a traditional diviner chosen by the ancestors of that particular family. The training of the Sangoma is called "kwetfwasa". At the end of the training, a graduation ceremony takes place where all the local sangoma come together for feasting and dancing. The diviner is consulted for various reasons, such the cause of sickness or even death. His diagnosis is based on "kubhula", a process of communication, through trance, with the natural super-powers. The Inyanga (a medical and pharmaceutical specialist in western terms) possesses the bone throwing skill ("kushaya ematsambo") used to determine the cause of the sickness.

The headman is central to all homestead affairs and he is often polygamous. He leads through example and advises his wives on all social affairs of the home as well as seeing to the larger survival of the family. He also spends time socialising with the young boys, who are often his sons or close relatives, advising them on the expectations of growing up and manhood.

Central to the traditional homestead is the cattle byre, a circular area enclosed by large logs interspaced with branches. The cattle byre has ritual as well as practical significance as a store of wealth and symbol of prestige. It contains sealed grain pits. Facing the cattle byre is the great hut which is occupied by the mother of the headman.

The principal Swazi social unit is the homestead, a traditional beehive hut thatched with dry grass. In a polygamous homestead, each wife has her own hut and yard surrounded by reed fences. There are three structures for sleeping, cooking, and storage (brewing beer). In larger homesteads there are also structures used as bachelors' quarters and guest accommodation.

Swazi warriors at the incwala ceremony
A traditional homestead in Swaziland
Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini at the reed dance (umhlanga) festival


Public expenditure for HIV/AIDS was at 4% of the GDP of the country, whereas private expenditure was at 2.3%.[43] There were 16 physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s.[43] Infant mortality was at 57.19 per 1,000 in 2014,[44] with the WHO showing that 47% of all deaths under 5 are caused by HIV/AIDS.[36]

In 2004, the Swaziland government acknowledged for the first time that it suffered an AIDS crisis, with 38.8% of tested pregnant women infected with HIV (see AIDS in Africa). The then Prime Minister Themba Dlamini declared a humanitarian crisis due to the combined effect of drought, land degradation, increased poverty, and HIV/AIDS. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, Swaziland is close to achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, defined as 80% coverage or greater. Estimates of treatment coverage range from 70% to 80% of those infected.[40] Life expectancy had fallen from 61 years in 2000 to 32 years in 2009.[41] Tuberculosis is also a significant problem, with an 18% mortality rate. Many patients have a multi-drug resistant strain, and 83% are co-infected with HIV.[42]

[39] This translates into an estimated 0.6% of the population dying from AIDS every year. Chronic illnesses that are the most prolific causes of death in the developed world account only for a minute fraction of deaths in Swaziland; for example, heart disease, strokes, and cancer cause fewer than 5% of deaths in Swaziland in total, compared to 55% of all deaths yearly in the US.[38] from a total population of approximately 1,185,000.[37] In 2009, an estimated 7,000 people died from AIDS-related causes,[36] Swaziland is critically affected by the HIV and AIDS disease. As reported in the 2012


Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African Rand, subsuming Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union, which may equal as much as 70% of government revenue this year, and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income. Swaziland is not poor enough to merit an IMF program; however, the country is struggling to reduce the size of the civil service and control costs at public enterprises. The government is trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign direct investment.

The continued vibrancy of the export sector is threatened by the removal of trade preferences for textiles, the accession to similar preferences for East Asian countries, and the phasing out of preferential prices for sugar to the EU market. Swaziland will thus have to face the challenge of remaining competitive in a changing global environment. A crucial factor in addressing this challenge is the investment climate. The recently concluded Investment Climate Assessment provides some positive findings in this regard, namely that Swaziland firms are among the most productive in Sub-Saharan Africa, although they are less productive than firms in the most productive middle-income countries in other regions. They compare more favourably with firms from lower middle income countries, but are hampered by inadequate governance arrangements and infrastructure.

The Swazi economy is very closely linked to the South African economy, from which it receives over 90% of its imports and to which it sends about 70% of its exports. Swaziland's other key trading partners are the United States and the EU, from whom the country has received trade preferences for apparel exports (under the African Growth and Opportunity Act – AGOA – to the US) and for sugar (to the EU). Under these agreements, both apparel and sugar exports did well, with rapid growth and a strong inflow of foreign direct investment. Textile exports grew by over 200% between 2000 and 2005 and sugar exports increasing by more than 50% over the same period.

The considerable spending did not lead to more growth and did not benefit the poor. Much of the increased spending has gone to current expenditures related to wages, transfers, and subsidies. The wage bill today constitutes over 15% of GDP and 55% of total public spending; these are some of the highest levels on the African continent. The recent rapid growth in SACU revenues has, however, reversed the fiscal situation, and a sizeable surplus was recorded since 2006. SACU revenues today account for over 60% of total government revenues. On the positive side, the external debt burden has declined markedly over the last 20 years, and domestic debt is almost negligible; external debt as a percent of GDP was less than 20% in 2006.

Economic growth in Swaziland has lagged behind that of its neighbours. Real GDP growth since 2001 has averaged 2.8%, nearly 2 percentage points lower than growth in other Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member countries. Low agricultural productivity in the SNLs, repeated droughts, the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS and an overly large and inefficient government sector are likely contributing factors. Swaziland's public finances deteriorated in the late 1990s following sizeable surpluses a decade earlier. A combination of declining revenues and increased spending led to significant budget deficits.

Swaziland's economy is diversified, with agriculture, forestry and mining accounting for about 13% of GDP, manufacturing (textiles and sugar-related processing) representing 37% of GDP and services – with government services in the lead – constituting 50% of GDP. Title Deed Lands (TDLs), where the bulk of high value crops are grown (sugar, forestry, and citrus) are characterised by high levels of investment and irrigation, and high productivity. Nevertheless, the majority of the population – about 75%—is employed in subsistence agriculture on Swazi Nation Land (SNL), which, in contrast, suffers from low productivity and investment. This dual nature of the Swazi economy, with high productivity in textile manufacturing and in the industrialised agricultural TDLs on the one hand, and declining productivity subsistence agriculture (on SNL) on the other, may well explain the country's overall low growth, high inequality and unemployment.

Swazi coins
A ten Emalangeni note
Graphical depiction of Swaziland's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.


Spring September – October 18 °C (64.4 °F)
Summer November – March 20 °C (68 °F)
Autumn April – May 17 °C (62.6 °F)
Winter June – August 13 °C (55.4 °F)

The average temperatures at Mbabane, according to seasons:

Swaziland is divided into four climatic regions, the Highveld, Middleveld, Lowveld and Lubombo plateau. The seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere with December being mid-summer and June mid-winter. Generally speaking, rain falls mostly during the summer months, often in the form of thunderstorms. Winter is the dry season. Annual rainfall is highest on the Highveld in the West, between 1,000 and 2,000 mm (39.4 and 78.7 in) depending on the year. The further East, the less rain, with the Lowveld recording 500 to 900 mm (19.7 to 35.4 in) per annum. Variations in temperature are also related to the altitude of the different regions. The Highveld temperature is temperate and, seldom, uncomfortably hot while the Lowveld may record temperatures around 40 °C (104 °F) in summer.

Along the eastern border with Mozambique is the Lubombo, a mountain ridge, at an altitude of around 600 metres. The mountains are broken by the Middleveld, lying at an average 700 metres above sea level is the most densely populated region of Swaziland with a lower rainfall than the mountains. Manzini, the principal commercial and industrial city, is situated in the Middleveld. The Lowveld of Swaziland, at around 250 metres, is less populated than other areas and presents a typical African bush country of thorn trees and grasslands. Development of the region was inhibited, in early days, by the scourge of malaria.

A small, land-locked kingdom, Swaziland is bordered in the North, West and South by the Republic of South Africa and by Mozambique in the East. Although Swaziland has a land area of only 17,364 km2, roughly the size of Wales or the American State of New Jersey, it contains four separate geographical regions. These run from North to South and are determined by altitude. Swaziland is located at approximately 26°30'S, 31°30'E.[35] Swaziland also offers a wide variety of landscapes, from the mountains along the Mozambican border to savannas in the east and rain forest in the northwest. Several rivers flow through the country, such as the Great Usutu River.

Swaziland lies across a geological fault which runs from the Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho, north through the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, and forms the Great Rift Valley of Kenya.

Topographic map of Swaziland
Landscape in Swaziland

Geography and climate

Region Capital Largest city Area
Hhohho Mbabane Mbabane 3,569 270,000
Manzini Manzini Manzini 5,068 319,530
Shiselweni Nhlangano Nhlangano 3,790 217,000
Lubombo Siteki Siteki 5,947 202,000

These are the administrative regions of Swaziland. The major towns and regional capitals are also shown.

Rank City Census 1986 Census 1997 Calc. 2005 Region
1. Manzini 46,058 78,734 110,537 Manzini
2. Mbabane 38,290 57,992 76,218 Hhohho
3. Nhlangano 4,107 6,540 9,016 Shiselweni
4. Siteki 2,271 4,157 6,152 Lubombo
This is a list of major cities and towns in Swaziland. The table below also includes the population and region.

Regions, cities and towns

As noted above, there are 55 tinkhundla in Swaziland and each elects one representative to the House of Assembly of Swaziland. Each inkhundla has a development committee (bucopho) elected from the various constituency chiefdoms in its area for a five-year term. Bucopho bring to the inkhundla all matters of interest and concern to their various chiefdoms, and take back to the chiefdoms the decisions of the inkhundla. The chairman of the bucopho is elected at the inkhundla and is called indvuna ye nkhundla.

There are 12 declared urban areas, comprising two city councils, three town councils and seven town boards. The main cities and towns in Swaziland are Manzini, Mbabane, Nhlangano and Siteki which are also regional capitals. The first two have city councils and the latter two have town councils. Other small towns or urban area with substantial population are Ezulwini, Matsapha, Hlatikhulu, Pigg's Peak, Simunye and Big Bend.

Swaziland is divided into four regions: Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini and Shiselweni. In each of the four regions, there are several tinkhundla (singular inkhundla). The regions are managed by a regional administrator, who is aided by elected members in each inkhundla.[34] The local government is divided into differently structured rural and urban councils depending on the level of development in the area. Although there are different political structures to the local authorities, effectively the urban councils are municipalities and the rural councils are the tinkhundla. There are 12 municipalities and 55 tinkhundla. There are three tiers of government in the urban areas and these are city councils, town councils and town boards. This variation considers the size of the town or city. Equally there are three tiers in the rural areas which are the regional administration at the regional level, tinkhundla and chiefdoms. Decisions are made by full council based on recommendations made by the various sub-committees. The town clerk is the chief advisor in each local authority council or town board.

Administrative divisions

Nominations take place at the chiefdoms. On the day of nomination, the name of the nominee is raised by a show of hand and the nominee is given an opportunity to indicate whether he or she accepts the nomination. If he or she accepts it, he or she must be supported by at least ten members of that chiefdom. The nominations are for the position of Member of Parliament, Constituency Headman (Indvuna) and the Constituency Executive Committee (Bucopho). The minimum number of nominees is four and the maximum is ten. Primary elections also take place at the chiefdom level. It is by secret ballot. During the Primary Elections, the voters are given an opportunity to elect the member of the executive committee (Bucopho) for that particular chiefdom. Aspiring members of parliament and the constituency Headman are also elected from each chiefdom. The secondary and final elections takes place at the various constituencies called Tinkhundla.[31] Candidates who won primary elections in the chiefdoms are considered nominees for the secondary elections at inkhundla or constituency level. The nominees with majority votes become the winners and they become members of parliament or constituency headman.[32][33]


The Swazi bicameral Parliament or Libandla consists of the Senate (30 seats; 10 members appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the monarch; to serve five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (65 seats; 10 members appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by popular vote; to serve five-year terms). The elections are held every five years after dissolution of parliament by the king. The last elections were held on 20 September 2013.[28][29] The balloting is done on a non-party basis in all categories. All election procedures are overseen by the elections and boundaries commission.[30]

. However, despite complaints from progressive formations, support for the monarchy and the current political system remains strong amongst the majority of the population. Submissions were made by citizens around the country to commissions, including the constitutional draft committee, indicating that they would prefer to maintain the current situation. hegemony In 2005, the constitution was put into effect. There is still much debate in the country about the constitutional reforms. From the early seventies, there was active resistance to the royal [27]

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