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Kingdom of Swaziland

CAPITAL: Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lobamba (royal and parliamentary)

FLAG: Blue, yellow, crimson, yellow, and blue stripes with the shield and spears of the Emasotsha regiment superimposed on the crimson stripe.

ANTHEM: National Anthem, beginning "O God, bestower of the blessings of the Swazi."

MONETARY UNIT: The lilangeni (pl. emalangeni; e) of 100 cents is a paper currency equal in value to the South African rand, which also is legal tender. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, 1 lilangeni, and notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 emalangeni. e1 = $0.16129 (or $1 = e6.2) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system replaced imperial weights and measures in September 1969.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Commonwealth Day, 2nd Monday in March; National Flag Day, 25 April; Birthday of King Sobhuza II, 22 July; Umhlanga (Reed Dance) Day, last Monday in August; Somhlolo (Independence) Day, 6 September; UN Day, 24 October; Christmas Day, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Monday, Ascension, and the Incwala Ceremony.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.


A landlocked country in southern Africa, Swaziland has an area of 17,363 sq km (6,704 sq mi), extending 176 km (109 mi) ns and 135 km (84 mi) ew. Comparatively, the area occupied by Swaziland is slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. It is bounded by Mozambique on the ne and by the Republic of South Africa (including the homelands) on the se, s, w, and n, with a total boundary length of 535 km (332 mi).

Swaziland's capital city, Mbabane, is located in the northwest part of the country.


The country is divided west-to-east into four well defined regions, the first three being of roughly equal breadth. The four regions extend north and south and are known as the high, middle, and low veld, and the Lebombo plain and escarpment. The high veld on the west has an average altitude of 1,050 m to 1,200 m (3445 to 3,937 ft). The middle veld averages about 450 to 600 m (1,476 to 1,969 ft), and the low or bush veld less than 300 m (984 ft). The Lebombo plain, at an average height of 610 m (2,000 ft), extends to the Lebombo escarpment, which is part of the Lebombo Mountains in the east. The entire country is traversed by rivers or streams, making it one of the best watered areas in southern Africa. The longest river is the Great Usutu, which stretches roughly from west to east across the center of the country for a total distance of 217 km (135 mi).


The high veld has a humid near-temperate climate with about 140 cm (55 in) of mean annual rainfall. The middle veld is subtropical and somewhat drier, with about 85 cm (33 in) of annual rainfall; the low veld, almost tropical, is subhumid, receiving about 60 cm (24 in) of rain in an average year. Rainfall tends to be concentrated in a few violent storms in the summer (OctoberMarch). Temperatures range from as low as -3°c (27°f) in winter in the highlands to as high as 42°c (108°f) in summer in the lowlands. At Mbabane, temperatures average 20°c (68°f) in January and 12°c (54°f) in July.


Grassland, savanna, mixed bush, and scrub cover most of Swaziland. There is some forest in the highlands. Flora include aloes, orchids, and begonias. Large indigenous mammals include the blue wildebeest, kudu, impala, zebra, waterbuck, and hippopotamus; however, wildlife has become very scarce outside the protected areas. Crocodiles live in the lowland rivers. Bird life is plentiful and includes the European stork, sacred ibis, and gray heron.


The chief environmental problem is soil erosion and degradation, particularly because of overgrazing. Population growth and the increased demand for fuel has threatened the country's forests, and the resulting deforestation has contributed to the loss of valuable soil. Swaziland has at least four protected areas for wildlifetwo wildlife sanctuaries and two nature reservestotaling 40,045 ha (98,953 acres), all in the northern half of the country. As of 2003, 3.5% of the nation's total land area was protected.

Another significant environmental problem in Swaziland is air pollution from transportation vehicles and emissions from other countries in the area. Water pollution from industrial and agricultural sources is also a problem, as well as contamination by untreated sewage, which contributes to the spread of life-threatening diseases.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 6 types of mammals, 6 species of birds, and 11 species of plants. Burchell's zebra has become extinct. Threatened marine species include the Baltic sturgeon, Danube salmon, and marsh snail. The cheetah and the cape vulture are listed among the vulnerable species.


The population of Swaziland in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 1,138,000, which placed it at number 150 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 43% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 93 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 0.3%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,009,000. The population density was 66 per sq km (170 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 25% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.98%. The administrative capital, Mbabane, had a population of 70,000 in that year.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Swaziland, with the number of AIDS orphans growing rapidly as of 2006. The UN estimated that 33.7% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.


Over the years, there has been a noticeable drift of educated Africans, many of whom have acquired British citizenship, from South Africa to Swaziland. Conversely, many itinerant asylum seekers were making a practice of using Swaziland as a stepping stone to gain access to South Africa in 1999. The total number of migrants in 2000 was 42,000. As of 2004, Swaziland harbored some 1,010 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from the Great Lakes region. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated zero per 1,000 population, compared to -10.8 per 1,000 in 1990. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


The indigenous African population in Swaziland constitutes 97% of the total populace and comprises more than 70 clans, of which the Nkosi Dlamini, the royal clan, is dominant. Europeans make up the remaining 3%.


English and Siswati, which is spoken by almost all Swazi, are the official languages. Government business is conducted in English.


Most of the population is Christian, with about 40% of the population affiliated with the Zionist Church, professing a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship. About 20% of the population are Roman Catholic. Other Christian denominations include Anglicans, Methodists, and Mormons (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). About 10% of the population are Muslims and there are small groups of Jews and Baha'is. Muslims and Baha'is are generally located in urban areas. The constitution does not specifically guarantee religious freedom, but that right is generally respected by the government and relations between religious groups are amicable.


The country had 3,800 km (2,364 mi) of roads in 2002, of which at least 1,064 km (662 mi) were paved. A highway runs between the southern boundary with South Africa and the eastern boundary with Mozambique. There were 30,000 passenger cars and 9,000 commercial vehicles in use in 1995. As of 2004, there were 301 km (187 mi) of railway in the country, all of it narrow gauge, and which links iron mines at Ngwenya with the Mozambique Railway and the port of Maputo in Mozambique. In the 1970s, a 94-km (58-mi) southern spur was constructed to the South African border. A 115-km (71-mi) northern spur to the South African border was completed in 1986. Airports numbered an estimated 18 in 2004, only one of which had a paved runway (as of 2005). Matsapa Airport, near Manzini, provides servicevia Royal Swazi National Airwaysto South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania. In all, about 89,500 passengers were carried on scheduled international and domestic flights in 2003 (the latest year for which data was available).


Like other parts of southern Africa, Swaziland was originally occupied by hunting and gathering peoples known as Bushmen. In the 16th century, according to tradition, Bantu-speaking peoples advanced southwest to what is now Mozambique. During the migration, these groups disintegrated to form the various ethnic groups of southern Africa. In fact, however, the Swazi do not appear to have broken away from the main body of the Bantu until the middle of the 18th century. The Swazi emerged as a distinct ethnic group at the beginning of the 19th century and were in constant conflict with the Zulu; they moved gradually northward and made their first formal contact with the British in the 1840s, when their ruler, Mswati II, applied to the British for help against the Zulu. The British succeeded in improving relations between the two ethnic groups.

About this time, the first Europeans came to Swaziland to settle. The independence of Swaziland was guaranteed by the British and Transvaal governments in 1881 and 1884, but owing to the excessive number of concessions (including land, grazing, and mineral rights) granted to European entrepreneurs by Mbandzeni (the king) during the 1880s, the United Kingdom decided some form of control was necessary. In 1890, a provisional government was established, representing the Swazi, the British, and the Transvaal. From 1894 to 1899, the Transvaal government undertook the protection and administration of Swaziland. After the South African (Boer) War of 18991902, the administration of Swaziland was transferred to the British governor of the Transvaal. An order in council established the relationship between the Swazi and the United Kingdom in 1903, providing the basic authority under which British administration was conducted for 60 years.


Responsibility for Swaziland was transferred in 1907 to the high commissioner for South Africa. An elected European Advisory Council was constituted in 1921. By the provisions of the Native Administration Proclamation of 1941, the position of the ngwenyama (paramount chief) as native authority was recognized. In 1963, constitutional discussions looking toward independence were opened in London. The following year, elections for a legislative council were held under the country's first constitution. After further constitutional talks, held in London in 1965, Swaziland became an independent nation within the Commonwealth on 6 September 1968.

On 12 April 1973, King Sobhuza II, who had been head of the Swazi nation since 1921, announced that the constitution had been repealed and that he had assumed supreme executive, legislative, and judicial powers. In 1979, a new parliament was chosen, partly through indirect elections and partly through royal appointment.

After Sobhuza died in 1982, a prolonged power struggle took place. At first his senior wife, Queen Mother Dzeliwe, became head of state and regent. Members of the Liqoqo, the king's advisory council, seized effective power and appointed a new "Queen Regent" in August 1983 (Ntombi, one of Sobhuza's other wives). At that time it was announced that Makhosetive, the 15-year-old son of Ntombi and one of Sobhuza's 67 sons, would ascend the throne upon reaching adulthood. He was crowned King Mswati III on 25 April 1986. The intrigues continued until the new king approved the demotion of the Liqoqo back to its advisory status. He has ruled through his prime minister and cabinet.

In 1982, South Africa and Swaziland secretly signed a security agreement. Under pressure from South Africa, Swaziland arrested and deported members of the African National Congress, the leading black nationalist group in South Africa. On three different occasions in late 1985 and 1986, South African commando squads conducted raids in Swaziland, killing a number of ANC members and supporters. In November 1987, a new parliament was elected and a new cabinet appointed. Obed Dlamini was the prime minister from 1989 until 1993. In September and October 1993, popular elections were held for parliament and a new prime minister, Prince Mbilini, took office, replacing Dlamini, who was defeated in the second round of voting. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini was appointed prime minister in July 1996.

The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions and the National Association of Civil Servants have organized strikes as a means to pressure the government for greater democratic control by the people of Swaziland. The strikes led the government to ban trade unions in 1995. The ban was later lifted but the country was again disrupted in 1996 by a general strike supported by the SFTU, which resulted in three leaders being detained, and the formation of a Constitutional Review Commission charged with the task of soliciting views from the Swazi nation as to the type of constitution preferred. The commission must meet with all the country's constituencies and submit a report to government officials.

The history of Swaziland during the early 2000s was dominated by controversy over drafting of the new constitution. In July 2005, after release of several draftsin May 2003 and November 2004 and missed deadlines, parliament passed the Swaziland constitution. The king signed it 26 July 2005, and the new constitution entered into force January 2006. However, the constitution did not open up the political space to political parties, as civil society and human rights organizations in Swaziland and elsewhere had expected. Rather, the new constitution encoded the king's absolute governing powers into the land's grand law, reinforcing the ban on political parties and allowing human rights clauses to be suspended by the king if he finds them in conflict with some undefined "public interest".

Political, civil society, and human rights organizations, and the international community, were unanimous in their criticism of the process that resulted in the new document, calling it "palace-controlled," nontransparent, not consultative enough, and undemocratic. The constitution was written by two commissions led by the king's brothers, Prince Mangaliso Dlamini and Prince David Dlamini, who is also justice minister. The critics charge that widely publicized "consultation" meetings with traditional leaders called by King Nswati III were window dressing. They further alleged that the king's last-minute decision to channel approval of the constitution though a parliament he controlled, reversing his earlier decision to decree the constitution into law, was designed to mask a faulty process and to gain back-door legitimacy for the document. However, several attempts to challenge the process legally failed. For their part, royalists contended that democracy is a dividing force in the country, whereas the monarch is a strong unifying force. The king repeatedly asserted that the constitution enjoyed the full support of the Swazi people.

As of 2006, Swaziland acknowledged that it was grappling with a humanitarian crisis caused by the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic. According to UNAIDS, Swaziland has the highest prevalence rates of HIV/AIDs in the world, ahead of neighboring Botswana, which made some strides against the disease. Nearly 4 in 10 adults are infected with the virus, and the rate is rising. In January 2004 the government revealed that over one in five Swazis were orphans and vulnerable children, and announced a program to pay primary school fees for 60,000 orphans, mostly children of HIV/AIDS victims. Combined with several years of equally devastating drought and famine, HIV/AIDS has significantly undermined the economy, which was already dependent on the regional giant South Africa. Unemployment was nearly 34% and some 70% of the population were living below the UN poverty line of a dollar a day.

In the midst of such daunting challenges, King Mswati III often came under heavy local and international criticism for lavish living, including luxury cars and mansions for his ten wives and two fiancés.


Swaziland was a constitutional monarchy until King Sobhuza II repealed the constitution in 1973 and assumed absolute power through a state of emergency decree, which was still in force as of 2006. The king then ruled the country as king-in-council, on the advice of his former cabinet and two traditional Swazi councils, one consisting of all the chiefs and other notables, the other of the king, the queen mother, and (in theory) all adult males.

A constitution was promulgated in 1978. In 1979, a new parliament was created with a House of Assembly consisting of 50 members, 40 of whom were chosen by indirect election and 10 appointed by the crown; the 20-member Senate had 10 members chosen by indirect election and 10 appointed by the crown. To become law, legislation passed by parliament must be approved by the crown. The cabinet is presided over by a prime minister appointed by the crown from among the members of parliament.

In response to popular moves calling for reform, King Mswati III appointed several commissions to review the tinkhundla (local government) system. In July 1992, the second Tinkhundla Review Commission (popularly called Vusela II) reported to the king. Government accepted its main recommendationsincrease tinkhundla centers, allow direct representation in parliament, and institute a secret ballot. Opposition parties complained that Vusela II did not consult a broad range of Swazis and that the reforms did not address the issue of the legality of political parties. The king followed the Vusela II recommendations, rejected the creation of a multiparty system and, on 21 August 1993, the electoral process got started with nomination of candidates. On 25 September primary elections selected three candidates for each district. In October, in runoff elections, voters chose 55 members for the House of Assembly. The king appointed 10 more. A 30-member Senate was chosen, with 10 members elected by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the king.

After many postponements, new elections were held in 1998. Amidst tight military and police security, Swazis went to the polls on 24 October 1998 in parliamentary elections. Over 85,000 people voted, which is an estimated 40% of the voting population. During the voting, harassment by the authorities of anti-electoral groups like the Peoples United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) and the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco), which were encouraging a boycott because they believed the elections would be rigged, was widespread. In addition to the 53 elected members of parliament, the king selected 10 more for the House of Assembly, 20 senators, and 10 cabinet ministers. The king also reappointed Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini to head the new government following the 1998 general elections.

Elections for the House of Assembly were held again on 18 October 2003. The next elections were expected October 2008. On 14 November 2003 Mswati appointed the Absolom Themba Dlamini to be prime minister. The House of Assembly had 65 seats by the 2003 election; 10 were appointed by the king and 55 elected by popular vote.

Mswati was reluctant to share power. He ruled by decree, even though the Court of Appeal has ruled against the legality of such decrees, and has often been criticized for silencing his opponents in a heavy-handed manner. The king's disregard for the rule of law triggered what the IRIN News Network calls a rule-of-law crisis. In November 2002, in protest of government's refusal to abide by Swaziland's Court of Appeals' decisions on two important rulings, the six members of the court resigned en masse and refused to hear cases for a period of two years. In a stinging report released in July 2004, the international human rights organization Amnesty International challenged Swaziland to "back up its recent commitments to international human rights standards by re-establishing the rule of law and confronting the systematic violation of civil, political, economic and social rights." Facing considerable international pressure for democratization and adherence to the rule of law, Prime Minister Absolom Dlamini made overtures to the court, which resumed hearing cases in November 2004.

The state heavily controls the media, and strictly restricts freedom of expression. For instance, the palace instituted a press ban on photographs of King Mswati's cars, following embarrassing exposure of his lavish tastes and purchase of the world's most expensive automobile, reported to have cost us$500,000. Some local prodemocracy groups have been forced to hold political demonstrations in neighboring countries after a government ban on political meetings and the brutal force with which demonstrators had been handled.


All parties are banned under the 1978 constitution, but this ban is defied by the People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), the Swaziland Liberation Front, the Swaziland Youth Congress, the Swaziland Communist Party, the Imbokodvo National Movement or INM, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), the Swaziland National Front, and the Convention for Full Democracy in Swaziland, which operate openly. Pudemo went so far as to declare itself legal in February 1992, and to demand a national convention of all political factions and a referendum on the constitution.

In March 2005 Swaziland's High Court upheld a ban on legal recognition of opposition political parties, dealing a serious blow to Swaziland's two largest political organizations, PUDEMO and NNLC, which together with labor unions sought to challenge and forestall the new draft constitution. The pro-democracy groups argued that the constitutional process was illegal as it had gone against a 2002 decision by the Court of Appeal that ruled King Mswati III had no legal basis to decree laws. In their judgment the five justices invoked another decree, a 1973 state of emergency pronounced by Mswati's father, King Sobhuza, that gave absolute power to the monarchy and banned organized political opposition to royal rule. The 2005 constitution approved by the king and parliament maintained the ban on political parties. However, some local groups see the government's recently published policy guidelines for the creation, registration and running of nongovernmental organizations providing small openings for political activity.

Prodemocracy groups have vowed to continue testing provisions of the constitution in court. However, if government claims (denied by PUDEMO) linking PUDEMO with fire-bombing incidences of several locations in Mbabane the first week of October 2005 proved true, it would mark a militant and violent turn for antiroyalist political groups.


Swaziland is divided into four districts: Hhohho, Manzini, Shiselweni, and the largest, Lubombo. District commissioners are appointed by the central government. Mbabane, Manzini, and two other towns have municipal governments. Paralleling statutory government structure is a traditional system consisting of the king and his traditional advisors, traditional courts, and 55 tinkhundla subregional districts in which traditional chiefs are grouped.


The dual judicial system consists of a set of courts based on a western model and western law and a set of national courts which follows Swazi law and custom. The former consists of a Court of Appeals and a High Court, plus magistrate's courts in each of the four districts. The traditional courts deal with minor offenses and violations of traditional Swazi law and custom. Sentences in traditional courts are subject to appeal and review to the Court of Appeals and High Court. The king has authority to appoint a special tribunal with its own procedural rules in treason and sedition cases.

The judges of the Courts of Appeals are expatriates, usually from South Africa, and serve on a two-year renewable contract basis. Local judges serve indefinitely on good behavior.

Although the courts are supposed to be independent of executive and military control or influence, there have been poor relations between the judiciary and the government. Matters came to head in November 2002. The government refused to follow rulings of the Supreme Court of Appeals on two major cases, one declaring the kKings frequent decrees as illegal, and another ordering the return to their homes of Chief Mliba Fakudze and 200 of his followers forcibly evicted and exiled from their homes in Macetjeni by the Government in 2000, after defying an apparent palace order installing King Mswati's brother, Prince Maguga Dlamini, as their new chief. Government defiance sparked public protests, international condemnation, and resulted in the resignation of the entire bench in November 2002. Relations began to turn around in November 2004 when the Appeals Court resumed hearing cases after promises by the new Prime Minister Absolom Dlamini that the government would respect court decisions.


The Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force has fewer than 3,000 personnel and functions as a border patrol and an internal security force. A royal guard battalion was formed in 1982. Military expenditures for 200102 were $20 million or 4.8% of GDP.


Swaziland joined the United Nations on 24 September 1968 and participates in ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, UNESCO, UNIDO, the World Bank, and the WHO. Swaziland also belongs to the ACP Group, the African Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Nations, G-77, WTO, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), COMESA, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and African Union. The country is also a part of the Nonaligned Movement. In environmental cooperation, Swaziland is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, the Montréal Protocol, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Desertification.


Swaziland's economy is based firmly on free market principles. The benefits of a modern economy are primarily enjoyed by the growing urban population. The majority supports itself through subsistence agriculture on rural homesteads. A relatively diversified industrial sector accounts for the largest component of the formal economy at 43% of GDP in 1999. Because of its small size, Swaziland relies heavily on the export sector, composed primarily of large firms with predominantly foreign ownership.

Surrounded almost entirely by South Africa, Swaziland's economy is heavily influenced by its dominant neighbor. The economy benefited considerably from investments that might otherwise have gone to South Africa during the period when there were international sanctions imposed on that country. On the other hand, the Swazi economy will likely suffer as a reformed South Africa attracts investment that had been going to Swaziland. In 1996, South Africa accounted for an estimated 96% of Swaziland's imports, 60% of its exports, and 50% of its foreign direct investment. In addition, remittances from Swaziland nationals working in South African mines substantially add to domestically earned income. This overwhelming presence has led some analysts to view the Swazi economy as a small, developing part of the much larger South African economy. The economy grew by 3.6% between 1988 and 1998, and by 2.6% between 2001 and 2005. Projected growth in the South African economy is expected to boost Swazi exports and in turn stimulate growth.

In 2002, the budget deficit was estimated at 4.8% of GDP. The government had taken few steps to restructure the public sector and privatize state-owned enterprises. As of 2003, the government had plans to build a new international airport, convention center, hotel, and theme park. Swaziland's membership in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) with South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, and Namibia, allows for the virtually unimpeded exchange of goods between the countries, subject to South Africa's import control requirements.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Swaziland's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $6.2 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $5,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.8%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 4%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 15.1% of GDP, industry 49.7%, and services 35.3%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $62 million or about $56 per capita and accounted for approximately 3.3% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $27 million or about $24 per capita and accounted for approximately 1.4% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Swaziland totaled $1.21 billion or about $1,096 per capita based on a GDP of $1.9 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.0%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 25% of household consumption was spent on food, 9% on fuel, 6% on health care, and 13% on education. It was estimated that in 2004 about 66% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2003, Swaziland's labor force totaled 155,700. In 2004, unemployment was estimated at 40%. There was no data available on the occupational breakdown of the country's labor force.

The law allows unions to organize and bargain collectively. About 80% of the formal private sector was organized as of 2001. The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions is the major labor organization. There is also an employers' federation, as well as a second, breakaway labor group, the Swaziland Federation of Labor Officially. The right to strike is severely limited but unions have still engaged in strikes.

The minimum age of employment is 15, and children are rarely employed in the formal economy. Child labor is more common in the agricultural and informal economies. Swaziland has a legally mandated sliding scale of minimum wages depending on the type of work. The minimum monthly wage for a domestic servant was approximately $21 in 2001. For an unskilled worker it was $33 and for a skilled worker, $52. The government protects workers with health and safety regulations. The maximum workweek is set at 48 hours, with one day of rest.


Swazi nation land, which comprises over 60% of the total land area, is held in trust by the crown for the Swazi people and supports about 70% of the population. Nearly half of the remaining land, which is freehold title, is owned by Europeans; the rest is owned by government or parastatal bodies. Under the traditional land tenure system, farmers till small plots, averaging less than 3 hectares (7.4 acres), but have no title or right to sell this land. The average freehold title farm, by contrast, is about 800 hectares (2,000 acres), and over 60% of freehold title cropland is irrigated. In this modern sector, agriculture expanded considerably in the early 1970s, mainly because of improved irrigation, better strains, and widespread introduction and use of fertilizers. Sugar is the most important cash crop, and corn is the staple crop. Most of the sugar produced is exported to Western Europe and North America. Output in 2004 included sugarcane, 4.5 million tons, and corn, 70,000 tons. Much of the sugar is exported to the EU, in accordance with the Sugar Protocol of the Lomé Convention; increasing amounts, however, are sold and refined domestically. Production of grapefruit in 2004 was about 37,000 tons; oranges, 36,000 tons; and pineapple, 32,000 tons. Cotton fiber production in that year was 2,000 tons. Between 1970 and 1982, 17 Rural Development Areas were established to assist traditional farmers; the program was planned to extend eventually to all Swazi nation land. The 1991/92 drought caused corn and cotton production to seriously decline; as a result the government sought emergency food assistance. By 1999, crop production was 90% of what it had been during 198991. During 200204, crop production was 5.9% lower than during 19992001.


Livestock raising, like agriculture, is divided into two sectors: a traditional system of grazing on communal lands for subsistence needs, and modern, commercial ranches on freehold title land. Livestock numbers recovered in 1991 from a previous drought-related selloff. In 2005, Swaziland had about 580,000 head of cattle, 274,000 goats, 27,000 sheep, 30,000 hogs, 14,000 equines, and 3.2 million chickens. The country produced 12,500 tons of beef in 2005. However, the meat processing industry has been unstable since 1988.


By 1982, several commercial fish farms had been established and some Rural Development Areas had fish ponds. Annual production was estimated at 70 tons in 2003.


Swaziland's forests (pine and eucalyptus) are among the world's largest planted forests, covering 161,000 hectares (398,000 acres), or about 9% of the land area. The total forest area in 2000 was 522,000 hectares (1,290,000 acres), or 30% of the land area. Roundwood output totaled 890,000 cu m (31.4 million cu ft) in 2004, about 70% coniferous. Sawn wood production was 102,000 cu m (3.6 million cu ft). Of Swaziland's planted forests, half supply the Usutu pulp mill, a large export earner producing unbleached wood pulp. About 3% of Swaziland's forests are in protected nature reserves and game sanctuaries.


The historic mineral sector of Swaziland has essentially collapsed. The kingdom contained the world's oldest known mine site, the Lion Cavern, at the Ngwenya iron mine, on Bomvu Ridge, northwest of Mbabane. Carbon-14 dating estimated that mining of hematite (libomvu) and specularite ochres, for cosmetic and ritual uses, took place at the site from 43,00041,000 bc until at least 23,000 bc; the mine was closed in 1977. Mining's role in Swaziland's economy has been declining in recent years, and as of 2004, accounted for only a minor factor in its overall economy. Asbestos mining ceased in 2000, diamond mining ceased in 1996, and mining of the once-major export of iron ore stopped in the late 1970s (it reached 2.24 million tons in 1975).

In 2004, Swaziland produced an estimated 300,000 cu m of quarry stone products, and also produced brick clay, anthracite coal, pyrophyllite, and sand and gravel. Small-scale, unreported gold mining has taken place. The mining of chrysolite fiber asbestos, once the dominant source of mining revenue, employing 1,000 workers at Bulumbe, one of the world's largest asbestos mines, ceased because of declining reserves, environmental concerns, and weak markets. In 2000, the last year of asbestos production, 12,690 metric tons was produced. An estimated 1,150 metric tons of ferrovanadium was produced in 2004, up from 1,011 metric tons in 2003. Although fewer than 1,000 Swazis were directly employed in the mining sector, 1,000 people processed timber from the country's extensive pine populations for mines in South Africa, and 10,00015,000 Swazis were employed in South African mines.


Swaziland's primary fossil fuel resource is coal. The country has no proven reserves of oil or natural gas, and thus must rely on imports to meet its petroleum and natural gas needs.

As of 1 January 2005, Swaziland had no proven reserves of crude oil, or natural gas, nor any petroleum refining capacity. In 2004, the country's imports and consumption of petroleum products each averaged 3,000 barrels per day.

Coal is Swaziland's only fossil fuel resource. As of 2003, these reserves came to 229 million short tons. Demand and production for coal that year each came to 410,000 short tons.

As of 1 January 2003, Swaziland's total installed electric generating capacity totaled 0.124 million kW, of which conventional thermal capacity accounted for 0.080 million kW and hydropower accounting for 0.044 million kW of capacity. Electric power output in 2002 totaled 0.395 billion kWh, of which 0.202 billion kWh came from conventional thermal sources and 0.193 from Hydroelectric sources. Demand for electric power in 2002 totaled 1.166 billion kWh.


Manufacturing consists primarily of the following export-oriented industries: wood pulp production, drink processing, fruit canning (Swazican), and sugar processing. Manufacturing growth in the mid-1990s was mostly attributable to increased production of drink processing at Bromor Foods and the sugar-based production activities of the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation and Cadbury Confectioneries. Swaziland's three sugar mills have an annual production capacity of 500,000 tons. Usutu Pulp, Swaziland's largest employer, is the leading wood pulp processing company, with an annual capacity to produce 220,000 tons of bleached kraft pulp. Sappi, a London-based company, manages the Usutu Pulp Company. Cement, agricultural machinery, electronic equipment, and refrigerator production are also important parts of Swaziland's manufacturing sector. Textiles, footwear, gloves, office equipment, confectionery, furniture, glass, and bricks are also manufactured. Industry accounts for over 40% of GDP.

Sanctions against South Africa in the late 1980s and internal unrest inspired interest in the relocation of South African-based industry, such as Coca-Cola, in Swaziland. Reexports of South African manufactures with "Made in Swaziland" labels also appeared at that time. The industrial sector growth of the 1980s slowed in the early 1990s as stability returned to South Africa and sanctions were eliminated. Textile manufacturing, which flourished when South African tariffs were high, began to wither when they were equalized.

Creation of the Southern African Development Community further marginalized the previous industry benefits to operating in Swaziland. The privatization of state-owned industry in 2000 increased foreign interest in Swaziland's industrial sector. There are no known oil or natural gas reserves in Swaziland.

In 2005, the government announced plans to reduce the budget deficit, including a reduction in expenditure on personnel. However, the government's willingness to carry this out has been called into question by recent salary increases for the cabinet and parliamentarians. Inflation has risen, but is expected to decline in the short term as food prices come down.


The University of Swaziland, founded originally as part of the University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland in 1964, has faculties of agriculture and science. The Swaziland College of Technology, founded originally in 1946 as a trade school, offers courses in various fields of engineering. The Geological Survey and Mines Department, founded in 1946 at Mbabane, conducts mining research, and three other institutes conduct agricultural research. In 2002, high technology exports were valued at $3 million, or 1% of the country's manufactured exports.


South Africa's substantial presence in Swaziland's domestic economy essentially means that South African business is the driving force in Swaziland's domestic commerce. South African employers and investors dominate certain sectors of local trade. Recently, however, the government has been working on programs to encourage local ownership and operation of small to medium-sized establishments. A few franchises have been established. Bargaining is an accepted practice in many Swazi business deals. The most developed distribution routes are those connecting to South Africa. Mbabane and Manzini are the principal commercial centers. Manufactured articles are generally available in all urban centers and are marketed mostly by South Africans.

Business hours are from 8:15 or 8:30 am to 1 pm and from 2 to 5 pm, MondayFriday, and from 8:15 or 8:30 am to 1 pm, Saturday. Banks are open weekdays from 8:30 am to 1 pm and Saturdays from 8:30 to 11 am.


Swaziland's exports have traditionally equaled a significant portion of GDP. As a result, the country's entire economy tends to mirror world commodity prices, and especially the state of the South African economy.

The value of exports has risen steadily during the 1990s; while the value of imports rose until 1997, when purchases suddenly dropped by 27%. This was probably due to the creation of the South African free trade area. Principal exports in 2003 included sugar, soft drink concentrates (a large US investment), wood pulp and lumber, cotton yarn, and fruit. Principal imports were motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, food, petroleum products, and chemicals.

Almost 96% of imports either originate in or transit through South Africa, and direct sales to and transshipments through South Africa account for about 72% of Swaziland's exports. About 12% of exports go to the European Union.


A decline in long-term capital inflows, increasing government deficits, and a drop in donor assistance plagued Swaziland with a current account deficit for much of the 1990s. The goods and services account has been negative since the 1980s. Payments made by the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to Swaziland, along with donor assistance, have offset this deficit, but these sources of revenue are threatened. Increased government deficits have also weakened the position of the current account.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 974.1 797.8 176.3
South Africa 657.5 675.3 -17.8
United States 78.3 1.7 76.6
Mozambique 52.2 3.5 48.7
Kenya 30.0 0.7 29.3
Zimbabwe 28.2 0.4 27.8
Australia 22.7 22.7
Tanzania 13.3 13.3
New Zealand 12.7 12.7
United Kingdom 12.3 3.6 8.7
Angola 7.5 7.5
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -46.3
   Balance on goods -79.4
     Imports -1,034.6
     Exports 955.2
   Balance on services -25.6
   Balance on income 48.3
   Current transfers 10.3
Capital Account 0.5
Financial Account 26.8
   Direct investment abroad 9.2
   Direct investment in Swaziland 45.0
   Portfolio investment assets 0.5
   Portfolio investment liabilities -0.1
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -50.4
   Other investment liabilities 22.6
Net Errors and Omissions 18.9
Reserves and Related Items 0.2
() data not available or not significant.

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that in 2005 the purchasing power parity of Swaziland's exports was $2.007 billion while imports totaled $2.096 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $89 million.


The Central Bank of Swaziland is the nation's central bank. Swaziland has been experiencing excess liquidity for some time. The nation's commercial banks were Standard Bank, First National and the Nedbank as of 1998. The Swaziland Development and Savings Bank was undergoing reconstruction in that year after a 1995 bankruptcy. The Swaziland Building Society provided mortgages for housing.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $62.2 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $189.7 million. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 5.06%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 9.5%.

The Swaziland Stock Market was established in 1990, and has only five company listings.


The Swaziland Royal Insurance Corp., 41% state owned, began operating in 1974. It is majority-owned by South African insurance and reinsurance companies. The Swaziland National Provident Fund is a mandatory savings institution for employees.


In the past, the government maintained a prudent fiscal policy by avoiding large deficits and restricting public sector growth. From 1987 to 1991, large budgetary surpluses were registered, and the government began making repayments on the external debt as a net creditor to the bank. Budgetary deficits during the 19902000s reflected extravagant government spending on the monarchy and his family. The civil service was overstaffed as well, prompting a reduction of 5,000 employees in 2000.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Swaziland's central government took in revenues of approximately $805.6 million and had expenditures of $957.1 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$151.5 million. Total external debt was $357 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2000, the most recent year for which it had data, budgetary central government revenues were e2,817.1 million and expenditures were e2,899.7 million. The value of revenues in US dollars was us$1,945 million and expenditures us$2,002 million, based on a official exchange rate for 2000 of us$1 = e1.4481 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 30.6%; defense, 7.6%; public order and safety, 8.1%; economic affairs, 21.1%; housing and community amenities, 3.6%; health, 8.0%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.6%; education, 19.8%; and social protection, 0.4%.


Swaziland has a progressive personal income tax system with rates ranging from 030%. There are no local taxes. As of the year ending 30 June 2005, the corporate income tax was levied at a rate of 30%. There are no capital gains tax, tax on dividends from companies paid to residents, or estate taxes. Swaziland has double taxation treaties with several countries including South Africa. The standard rate for the sales tax was increased from 12% to 14% in 2003, with higher rates for items like liquor (25%) and tobacco. Exempted from sales tax are fresh foodstuffs, drugs, medicines, furniture and building supplies.


Swaziland belongs to the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) with South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, and Namibia. South Africa levies and collects most of the customs, sales, and excise duties for the five member states, paying a share of the revenues to the other four. Local import duties are applied to wines, spirits, and beer. Swaziland also signed a double taxation agreement with the United States in 2000.


Cognizant of its subordinate relationship to South Africa, Swaziland has fostered an investment climate agreeable to foreign businesses. More than half of all enterprises are foreign owned or joint ventures. South African investment has consistently accounted for

around 45% of FDI. It is surmised that British entities inject the largest portion of the remaining 55%, followed by Taiwan. The United States, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany are also present. Foreign investors pay a reduced 10% corporate tax and are exempted from withholding tax on dividends for the first 10 years.

In 1997, Swaziland experienced divestment of foreign direct investment (FDI) amounting to -$15.1 million, but in 1998 annual FDI inflow rose to $151 million. Inflow was $100 million in 1999,

Revenue and Grants 2,817.1 100.0%
   Tax revenue 2,571.8 91.3%
   Social contributions
   Grants 108.9 3.9%
   Other revenue 136.4 4.8%
Expenditures 2,899.7 100.0%
   General public services 888.6 30.6%
   Defense 221.7 7.6%
   Public order and safety 236.2 8.1%
   Economic affairs 612 21.1%
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities 103 3.6%
   Health 232.3 8.0%
   Recreational, culture, and religion 18.5 0.6%
   Education 575.3 19.8%
   Social protection 12.1 0.4%
() data not available or not significant.

but there was a reverse flow of -$18.5 million in 2000. FDI inflow in 2001 was $68 million, in 2002 was $48.7 million, and in 2003 was $60.8 million. FDI grew by 10.4% in 2003 and much of this growth was through reinvested earnings. There is no policy of encouraging Swazis or Swazi business to invest abroad generally, but a handful of Swazi businesses invest abroad, primarily in South Africa.


The growth that was experienced in past years left unaffected the 60% of Swazis who live on small family farms. While manufacturing employment has risen, about half of Swazis are unemployed and actively seeking work. It is hoped that the existence of a multiracial government will prove beneficial to ongoing Swaziland-South African economic development. Economic activity weakened in the early 2000s, however, in part due to drought and closures by foreign firms. Food shortages and the spread of HIV/AIDS have exacerbated the dire conditions of high unemployment, income inequality, and poverty. A National Emergency Response Committee (NERCHA) was established in 2001 to combat HIV/AIDS.


Social services have developed slowly. A system of pensions exists for formally employed persons. Old-age, disability, and survivorship is covered. The program is funded by 5% contribution by both employees and employers. Retirement is allowed between ages 45 and 50 and pensions may be paid as a one-time lump sum or divided into installments. Private work injury insurance is mandatory for all employers.

Women do not have full legal equality with men, and a married woman is virtually a legal minor. Women may not open a bank account, buy land, or leave the country without her husband's permission. In addition, women do not automatically transmit citizenship to their children, and cannot transfer property to them either. Domestic violence is commonplace, and rape is viewed as a minor offense by most men. Women are inhibited from reported violence, and the court system is unsympathetic. Child abuse is also a widespread social problem despite legislation protecting the rights of children.

There are continued reports of the use of excessive force by police, and torture during interrogation. The law does not provide for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government restricts these activities. However, human rights organizations are permitted to operate.


Major health problems include bilharzia, typhoid, tapeworm, gastroenteritis, malaria, kwashiorkor, and pellagra. In 2004, there were an estimated 18 physicians, 2 dentists, 4 pharmacists, and 320 nurses per 100,000 people. Traditional healers are still consulted by over 80% of the population. Only about 43% of the population has access to safe water, and 36% has adequate sanitation. About 56% of the population had access to health care services.

About 27% of married women used contraceptives. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 39.6 and 23.2 per 1,000 people. In 2005, average life expectancy was 33.22 years, the lowest in the world. The infant mortality rate was 72.92 per 1,000 live births. The immunization rates for children under one year of age were as follows: diphtheria and pertussis, 96%; polio, 96%; measles, 94%; tuberculosis, 100%; and tetanus, 75%.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 38.80 per 100 adults in 2003, the highest rate in the world. As of 2004, there were approximately 220,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 17,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


The search for jobs in urban settings has caused a housing shortage in these areas. Several squatter settlements have developed, accounting for as much as half of annual shelter production in cities. It has been estimated that about 60% of the urban population resides in temporary shelters, and that number grows as more and more households are unable to afford the high cost of home ownership. In response, the government has been working with international programs, such as the World Bank, to create and improve urban housing. In 2001, the Swaziland National Housing Board provided for over 1,000 rental units and 500 units for ownership to low- and middle-income families.


The majority of primary and secondary schools are run by missions with grants from the government. Children go through seven years of primary and five years of secondary schooling (in three and two-year cycles). Schooling is not compulsory, and nominal fees are charged to parents. The academic year runs from August to May.

Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 75% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 32% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 75% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 31:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 16:1.

Higher education is provided by the University of Swaziland and the Swaziland College of Technology. In 2003, it was estimated that about 5% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 79.2%, with 80.4% for men and 78.1% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 7.1% of GDP.


The Swaziland National Library Service was founded in 1971; with 250,000 volumes, it has 12 branches throughout the country and operates school libraries at secondary levels. There is also a mobile library service. The University of Swaziland in Kwaluseni has 180,000 volumes. The Swaziland Library Association was founded in 1984. The Swaziland National Museum in Lobamba, founded in 1972, contains collections primarily of ethnographic material and cultural objects of South Africa Bantu groups.


In 2003, there were an estimated 44 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 15,600 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 84 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

The government-operated Swaziland Broadcasting Service broadcasts radio programs in English and Siswati and television programs in English. As of 2004, there were two government-owned radio stations and one independent (religious) radio station. There was one privately owned television station, however, the latter was owned by a relative of the former king. The government also has a television station. In 2003, there were an estimated 162 radios and 34 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 28.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 26 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were two secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

There are two major daily English language newspapers, the Times of Swaziland and the Swaziland Observer, with circulations in 2002 of 18,000 and 11,000, respectively. Freedom of speech and of the press are said to be limited, especially on political matters.


There are more than 123 cooperative societies, including the Swaziland Central Cooperatives Union. The national chamber of commerce and industry is in Mbabane. The National Consumer's of Swaziland was established in 1994. There are active professional associations, such as the Swaziland Nurses Association and Swaziland National Association of Teachers.

Educational organizations include the Swaziland Educational Research Association and Fundza, which works to establish school libraries throughout the country.

National youth organizations include the Swaziland Boy Scouts Association, Swaziland Workcamp Association, and the Swaziland Youth Forum. There are several sports associations in the country promoting amateur competition for athletes of all ages in a variety of pastimes; many of these groups are affiliated with international counterparts, as well as with the Swaziland Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association.

Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs International, are also present. Social action and development groups include the Human Rights Association of Swaziland and Emanti Esive (Water for Community Development), a health and wellness organization. There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, UNICEF, and Caritas.


Swaziland offers the tourist a magnificent variety of scenery and casinos at Mbabane, Nhlangano, and Pigg's Peak. The tea estates near the Mdzimba Mountains are also an attraction. Popular sports are tennis, squash, hiking, fishing, white-water rafting, lawn bowls (bowling on a green), and golf. If traveling from an infected area vaccination against yellow fever is required. Precautions against cholera, typhoid, polio, and malaria are recommended. Passports and travel documents are required of all visitors as well as visas from more than 145 countries including China and Russia.

In 2003, there were 218,813 visitors who arrived in Swaziland. Hotel rooms numbered 1,339 with 2,436 beds and a 33% occupancy rate. Over 50% of the visitors came from African nations.

According to 2005 US Department of State estimates, the daily cost of staying in Mbabane was $247.


Sobhuza II (18991982) was king, or ngwenyama, of the Swazi nation from 1921 until his death. Mswati III (b.1968) became king in 1986.


Swaziland has no territories or colonies.


Booth, Alan R. Historical Dictionary of Swaziland. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

Bowen, Paul N. A Longing for Land. Tradition and Change in a Swazi Agricultural Community. Brookfield, Vt.: Avebury, 1993.

Gillis, D. Hugh. The Kingdom of Swaziland: Studies in Political History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999.

Harris, Betty J. The Political Economy of the Southern African Periphery: Cottage Industries, Factories, and Female Wage Labour in Swaziland Compared. New York: St. Martin's, 1993.

Hope, Kempe R. AIDS and Development in Africa: A Social Science Perspective. New York: Haworth Press, 1999.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Penn, Helen. Unequal Childhoods: Children's Lives in Developing Countries. New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2005.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Kingdom of Swaziland

Major City:

Other City:


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report for Swaziland. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


SWAZILAND , geographically one of Africa's most diverse smaller states, lies landlocked in the southeast corner of the continent between Mozambique and South Africa. A country of rolling hills and valleys, sound fiscal management, and financial cooperation with its largest neighbor, South Africa, Swaziland's standard of living is better than that of most African countries. Swaziland also maintains the simplicity and mysterious traditions that tend to keep it relatively insulated from the turmoil that afflicts the other nations of southern Africa. Many Swazis continue to wear traditional dress rather than Western fashions. Mbabane, Swaziland's capital city, is a clean and orderly town where an outdoor African market and a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant coexist.

Sobhuza II, known to his people as the Lion of the Swazis, the Inexplicable, the Great Mountain, the Bull, the Son of the She-Elephant, and the Knight of the British Empire, was the world's longest reigning monarch, ruling Swaziland from 1921 until his death on August 21, 1982. For the next four years, Queen Ntombi Tfwala, one of Sobhuza's many wives, acted as regent until the coronation of Crown Prince Makhosetive. The coronation, held April 25, 1986, took place three years earlier than anticipated in order to end an ongoing power struggle between vying royalist factions. Eighteen-year-old King Mswati III, the Ngwenyama, or lion of his people, told his countrymen at his colorful coronation ceremony: "My experience is short, but I have behind me the sacred trust and strength of the people."



Mbabane was chosen by the former British administrators as the capital of the High Commission Territory because it was free of the malaria prevalent at lower altitudes in the country. Today, it bustles with commercial and official activity resulting from its status as the seat of government of independent Swaziland. Pleasant, well-shaped residential areas spread over the hills surrounding the growing business section. Downtown stores and a nearby shopping mall with a U.S.-style supermarket provide most of the goods and services available in a small-to medium-sized American town. Mbabane's population is approximately 67,000.

Mbabane has many social and climatic characteristics of a small town in Oregon or Washington. The combination of its 26° south latitude (longitude 31° east) and 3,800-foot altitude gives Mbabane cool and dry winters and mild summers. Most of the rainfall comes in long, misty drizzles between October and March. Heavy rains in that period are frequently accompanied by hail and violent electrical storms. Evenings tend to be cool, even in summer, and frost can occur in the winter months.

The capital's previous English colonial atmosphere has dissipated with the "localization" of the civil service. Although a substantial European population remains, it is now composed mostly of South Africans, English, and Portuguese engaged in commercial activity. Mbabane's Swazi population is made up of government officials and also rural Swazis who have to come to the capital looking for jobs. Languages most heard in the capital are siSwati, used by Swazis among themselves and for most local broadcasting; English, spoken by expatriates and in government offices; and Portuguese, used by members of the Portuguese business community.

Taxis are available at all hotels in Mbabane; the usual tip is 10 percent. There are also car rental services in Mbabane; an international driver's license is required and driving is on the left.

Allister Miller Street, one of the main thoroughfares in Mbabane, has modern shops, boutiques, hotels, commercial banks, and the offices of several diplomatic missions. Nearly all of Swaziland's government ministries and departments are located in and around the Mbabane area.

On the south side of the city is the Industrial Site, with several light industries and commercial concerns. The Small Enterprises Development Company's (SEDCO) complex is located here. There is a friendly little shopping center offering handmade clothes in colorful African fabrics, finely crocheted shawls, pottery, tapestries, artificial flowers made from local grasses, and a wide range of other items.

Visitors are drawn to the Swazi Plaza, now the established commercial center of Mbabane. The plaza provides nearly every type of shopping and service facility, all on one level. Access from the adjacent Mbabane town center is gained by merely walking across the bridge that spans the Mbabane River.


Sifundzani School is a primary school in the city of Mbabane that provides adequate facilities for American children, and as a Swazi Government school, it follows a British curriculum. Founded in 1981, the school is a coeducational institution and receives support from the Office of Overseas Schools. The school is situated in a hillside area and consists of six buildings, 14 classrooms, an auditorium, playing field, and swimming pool. Sifundzani has grades one through seven and enrolls children the year they turn six. The curriculum at the school includes five years of French and siSwati. Extracurricular activities include drama, sports, and choral and instrumental music. Visits to game reserves, museums, houses of Parliament, industrial areas, and agricultural projects are part of the curriculum. The school day is from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Simple, inexpensive uniforms of shirts and jeans for boys and pinafores for girls are required. The school year lasts from January to December. Further information can be obtained at: P.O. Box A286, Swazi Plazi, Mbabane, Swaziland.

Waterford-Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa (P.O. Box 52, Mbabane), a private school set among the foothills overlooking the city, is considered one of the finest preparatory schools in southern Africa. Because it is usually full and often has a waiting list, parents contemplating enrolling their children in Waterford-Kamhlaba should communicate with the headmaster as many months ahead as possible. However, admission to Waterford-Kamhlaba on any level is by competitive entrance examination and by merit.

The school was founded in 1963 with the aim of providing a high standard of secondary education in a multiracial environment. Originally a boy's school, it is now coeducational.

The school is comprised of 20 buildings, 21 classrooms, a 16,000-volume library, auditorium, four tennis courts, three playing fields, seven science labs, computer center, swimming pool, and infirmary.

Waterford-Kamhlaba offers a seven-year British (approximate) secondary curriculum divided into a five-year section and a final two-year section. The first five-year program leads to the Cambridge External Board School Certificate ("O" level) which is almost equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma. At the end of the first five years, a student must reapply for the final two years, which will lead to the International Baccalaureate degree. Classes begin at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and alternate Saturdays. They end at 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and at 1 p.m. on Wednesday and alternate Saturdays. Sports activities are scheduled two days a week and, on these days, students may remain as late as 4 or 5 p.m.

Subjects offered include English language and literature, history, geography, mathematics, economics, chemistry, physics, biology, languages (Afrikaans, Spanish, French, Zulu/siSwati), music, and art. The "O" level examinations are taken on six to nine subjects from the list. The International Baccalaureate examination is taken on a combination of six subjects and includes a "theory of knowledge" paper and an extended essay based on the student's own research and reading under the guidance of one of the teachers. Extracurricular activities consist of sports (including swimming), art, chess, music, science clubs, camping and other outdoor activities, drama, gymnastics, dance, yearbook, and newspaper.

Many parents and children living in the Mbabane area, including American families, share the faculty's view that boarding provides the ideal educational and social experience. Boarders may join their families every Wednesday afternoon and weekends.

Several nursery schools operate in Mbabane. Private tutoring in art, crafts, and sports is also available. In addition to its regular Swazi-oriented programs in English and siSwati, Sebenta National Institute (adult education) has evening courses in siSwati for foreigners.


Swaziland has many good sports facilities. Group sports, usually conducted by clubs, are typically British: soccer, rugby, cricket, and bowls. Many Swazis are avid soccer players and fans, and semi-professional games are played weekends in Mbabane, or in the Somhlolo National Stadium in Lobamba.

The country has several golf courses, including one at the Mbabane Club and the international-standard course at the Royal Swazi Hotel. Tennis is increasing in popularity. There are three municipal courts at Coronation Park in Mbabane, six courts at the Mbabane Club, an others at nearly every major center in the country. Horseback riding facilities are available at several hotels and nature reserves around the county as well as privately run stables. Stabling is available for privately owned horses. Most hotels have their own pools.

Swaziland's striking mountains and highveld attract outdoor enthusiasts. Camping, hiking, picnicking, and fishing are popular in the latter. Horses can be rented for outings. Several bushmen painting sites are within easy driving distance of Mbabane. The country now has five game parks: a small but growing one in the middleveld in the Malkerns valley (Mlilwane), and a larger, undeveloped protected area in the bushveld (Ehlane). The former has well-kept roads that bring the visitor within a few feet of a wide variety of game, many imported from other parts of Africa. These include antelope, rhino, zebra, giraffe, hippo, ostrich, and many birds. Elephants and rhinos are being reintroduced into Swaziland in the outlying reserves. The Swaziland Natural History and Mineral and Gem Societies often arrange lectures and tours to these areas.

Indigenous fish, including bream, yellowfish, silver barbel, mud fish, and eels, are found in most rivers. Black bass have been successfully introduced into a number of dams. Streams in the Usutu Forest are stocked with trout but fishing in these waters is by permit only. Permits are available from the Usutu Forest Fishing Club.

The Swaziland Automobile Club organizes many rallies during the year. The Swaziland Flying Club at Matsapha Airport has its own plane and gives flying lessons. An annual raft race is held on the Usutu River near Big Bend.

Travel in neighboring South Africa is a favorite way of adding variety to Mbabane's small-town life. American tourist travel is not encouraged by Mozambique, which usually issues visas to Americans on official business only.

Those in search of "city lights" can choose between the South African cities of Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Durban, all of which offer cinema, theater, music, and good restaurants and nightclubs. However, many facilities are closed on Sundays. Durban, on the Indian Ocean, has the additional attraction of beaches and a seaport atmosphere.

Those looking for wider open spaces have a number of available routes. Two hours north of Swaziland is South Africa's Kruger National Park, containing much of the game still found in southern Africa, including lion and elephant. The northern Natal areas have other smaller game parks, and also the famous Drakensberg mountains with snow-covered peaks where one can go climbing, trout fishing, and camping. Blyde River canyon, about three hours north of Mbabane, has beautiful hiking and climbing areas.


Mbabane is a town of self-generated entertainment. It can be dull for a person not active in sports or in social and cultural life. Nightly movies are shown, including recent releases, at the Cinelux Theater in Mbabane, and older films are shown at a cinema in Manzini. "Classic" and art films are shown several times a week in the 230-seat theater of the Mbabane Theatre Club, which also stages frequent dramatic productions. They also have a dinner theater featuring short plays and amateur folk nights. Touring vocal and instrumental artists appear on an average of once a month, under the auspices of the Swaziland Music Society.

In addition to its nightclub entertainment, the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel has roulette tables, poker and blackjack games, and slot machines. On payment of a small fee, nonresidents have access to these diversions and to the hotel's facilities for golf, tennis, bowls, swimming, and dancing, as well as to its spa compound. Several "local color" night-clubs are in Mbabane. Square dance evenings are organized in Mbabane, and Scottish dancing evenings are held in Manzini.

Occasional horse events and gymkhanas are held at local stables. The Swaziland Art Society sponsors two exhibitions each year featuring the work or artists residing in Swaziland. A commercial art gallery, Indinglizi, in Mbabane, has regular exhibitions. Swaziland is a photographer's delight with both natural scenery and colorful national dress. Film processing is available in Mbabane, but slides are sent to South Africa.

The Swazis have two traditional dance festivals each year, the Umhlanga or Reed Dance (women) in late August or early September, and the Incwala (men) in late December or early January. Both are open to the public. Permits are normally required for taking still photographs at close quarters, and the use of movie cameras is discouraged. Visitors may get permission to photograph these ceremonies from the Government Information Service at B.P. 338, Mbabane.

Although social entertaining in the Western sense is not a part of Swazi social life, occasional opportunities exist to visit Swazi homes, and Swazis usually accept dinner invitations. Small lunches, dinners, barbecues (called braais ), and similar get-togethers are held often. Many Swazis go to their homesteads on weekends, so most entertaining is done during the week. Swazi people are very friendly and helpful to visitors.


The largest city in Swaziland is MANZINI , located in the central part of the country about 25 miles southeast of Mbabane, with a population of 73,000. Most Swazi towns originally grew around trading stores, and Manzini, the industrial and agricultural center of the country, is a prime example. The town has modern shops, a maize mill, light engineering works, small factories, a rice drying plant, and is the seat of the Swaziland Trade Fair Exhibition Center. Dairy and beef cattle are also raised, and Swaziland's main meat processing plant, creamery, cotton gin, and fruit canning factory are located in and around Manzini. Manzini was the capital of Swaziland before 1902. There are two hotels in Manzini. Their names and addresses are: The George, P.O. Box 51; and Highlands Inn, P.O. Box 12. Taxis are available for hire at the hotels. Cars may be rented at the Manzini airport, located five miles outside of town.


Geography and Climate

Swaziland is an independent kingdom in southeastern Africa. Its 6,704 square miles (less than the area of New Jersey) are all but surrounded by the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of the Republic of South Africa. Its eastern border on Mozambique is about 40 miles from the Indian Ocean. The greatest distance from north to south is less than 120 miles, and from east to west is less than 90 miles.

Swaziland has four well-defined regions of roughly equal breadth, running from north to south: highveld, middleveld, lowveld (or bushveld), and the Lubombo Plateau. The mountainous highveld in the west (where Mbabane, the capital, is located) rises over 6,000 feet, with an average altitude of 4,000 feet. The middleveld averages 2,000 feet, the lowveld 700 feet, and the Lubombo Plateau about 1,800 feet.

The highveld has a humid, near-temperate climate with 40 to 90 inches mean annual rainfall. Daytime weather is more variable in the highveld than in the other regions, with a foggy or overcast morning sometimes followed by a sunny afternoon, and vice versa. Temperatures for Mbabane, located in the highveld, range between a mean low of 51°F and a mean high of 72°F. Extremes of 17°F and 99°F have also been recorded.

The middleveld and Lubombo Plateau are subtropical and drier, with 30 to 45 inches mean annual rainfall. Temperatures for Manzini, the country's main industrial center and the city nearest the university campuses, range between a mean low of 57°F and a mean high of 78°F. Extremes of 32°F and 108°F also have been recorded.

The lowveld is warmer and less humid than the middleveld, with 20 to 35 inches mean annual rainfall, usually during heavy summer storms. Temperatures for Big Bend, center of the sugarcane industry in eastern Swaziland, range between a mean low of 58°F and a mean high of 84°F. Extremes of 26°F and 108°F have been recorded.


Swaziland's resident population is estimated at 1.1 million. Thousands of Swazi nationals normally work outside the country, principally in the South African mines. Mbabane has a population of 67,000 (2002 estimate). Swaziland's other major city is Manzini, which has a population of 73,000. The annual growth rate is about 1.8 percent.

A small percentage of the Africans in southern Swaziland are Zulus; most of the rest are Swazis. The European community of about 30,000 consists of English-, Afrikaans-, and Portuguese-speaking groups. Afrikaners are in both the northern and southern parts of the country, whereas the English and Portuguese are located largely in the north. Europeans engage mainly in agriculture, trading, construction, mining, and the professions.

Most Swazis are engaged in agriculture and are strongly bound to tradition. Society is patriarchal, with the usual family homestead including a man, his wives, his unmarried children, and his married sons and their families. If his mother is living, she has a great deal of influence in the homestead. The Swazi farmer lives in a "beehive" hut, wears beaded neck ornaments and a brightly colored wraparound cloth overlaid with an animal skin, and has a diet consisting mainly of maize, greens, and milk. Although Swazis love meat, those living in homesteads have meat only on special occasions or when they have visitors. Even though many homesteads have cattle, they prefer to slaughter them mainly for celebrations.

More than half of the Swazis belong to various Christian churches; most of the rest practice a traditional religion based on ancestor-worship. The official languages of Swaziland are English and siSwati.


One of Africa's last ruling dynasties, the Swazis trace their history back 400 years. In the 19th century, as one of the weaker Bantu tribes of southern Africa, the Swazis were driven back by the powerful Zulus to the rocky, mountainous region that became Swaziland.

Early Swazi rulers kept their land independent from the surging Zulus, Boers, and British with a combination of warfare and diplomacy, until the 1890s when the Boers took control. Following the British victory in the Boer War, Swaziland became a British High Commission Territory in 1903. It achieved independence on September 6, 1968, becoming the 28th independent member of the British Commonwealth.


As a British colony, the British High Commissioners who ruled Swaziland foresaw the tiny African nation as one day being incorporated into South Africa. Independence was not contemplated until the 1960s, and at that time, the British envisioned the government to be a constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliament. But Sobhuza II, whose reign during the British protectorate was as a limited constitutional monarch with a largely ceremonial role, believed that his rule, with the advice of a tribal council, was better for the Swazis than any form of Western democracy. He formed his own political partyImbokodvo (Grinding Stone)and in the first parliamentary election held in 1967, won all 24 seats in Parliament with 80 percent of the vote. Full independence was achieved for Swaziland, with Sobhuza II in control, on September 6, 1968.

The constitution in effect at the time of independence stated that legislative power was vested in a bicameral parliament, with a senate and a house of assembly. In April 1973, King Sobhuza repealed the constitution, suspended political activity, and took all executive, legislative, and judicial powers himself. Although there was no threat to Sobhuza's power, it appeared that he preferred to rule as Swazi King rather than as constitutional monarch, and to have governmental organization and procedures more compatible with Swazi tradition. In September 1973, the Royal Constitutional Commission was appointed to draw up a new constitution. In March 1977, the king abolished the parliamentary system and replaced it with traditional tribal communitiestinkhundla. The other traditional councilknown as the Supreme Council of State until 1985 (liqoqo )is composed of 16 members of Swazi royalty and other notables appointed by the king, who advise him on all matters regulated by Swazi law and custom and connected with Swazi tradition and culture.

A new constitution was declared on October 13, 1978, and is based on traditional tribal communities. It called for a bicameral Parliament, or Libandla, made up of a House of Assembly with 50 deputies and a Senate with 20 senators. An 80-member electoral college, made up of two people elected from each tinkhundla, in turn elect 40 deputies and 10 senators. The king then chooses an additional 10 members for each house. The functions of the legislature were confined to debating government proposals and advising the king. Ultimately, the king must approve any parliamentary acts before they become law.

Sobhuza II was the world's longest reigning monarch when he died in 1982 at the age of 83. He was born the same year in which his father, King Ngwane V, died. Traditionally, the king's successor is not named until after his death so as to prevent the successor from posing a threat to his father. Sobhuza was chosen from among his father's many heirs by a tribal council headed by the queen mother, or favored wife, who is designated as a She-Elephant. Sobhuza's power was partly based on tradition and on his people's belief that he was the great rain-maker and the sole source of fertility in Swaziland. The role he played during the British protectorate, while viewed as merely ceremonial, was in fact very important because ritual plays a large role in the lives of the Swazis.

On August 21, 1982, the full powers of the head of state were transferred to the constitutional dual monarchthe Queen Mother, or She-Elephant (Indlovukazi ). The Queen Mother, Dzeliwe, also took the title of Queen Regent. On August 9, 1983, Dzeliwe was replaced in a palace coup by Queen Ntombi, the mother of Sobhuza's successor, Prince Makhosetive. The new Queen Regent was advised by the Supreme Council of State (liqoqo ) and was assisted by Prince Sozisa Dlamini in administering state affairs until his suspension in September 1984. It was expected that Queen Ntombi would act as regent until her son reached age 21 and was crowned king. During that time, the young prince was to receive his formal education in England as well as learn his country's tribal customs and laws. However, due to the power struggle between members of Sobhuza's family that began with the dismissal of Queen Dzeliwe, the regency of Queen Ntombi was terminated three years early. Prince Makhosetive, Sobhuza's second youngest son, born April 19, 1968, was crowned King Mswati III on April 25, 1986. Swaziland is one of only three monarchies that rule on the African continent. The others are Morocco and Lesotho.

Swaziland has two court systems. Swazi National Courts, under the Ministry of Local Administration, administer Swazi law and custom and all rules made by the Ngwenyama or chiefs. The other system, under the Ministry of Justice, deals with matters in the modern sector. It comprises a number of magistrate courts throughout the country, plus a one-man high court (chief justice) and a multi-judge court of appeal, convened when necessary to review decisions of the high court.

Red Cross, Scouting, and 4-H (called 4-S in Swaziland) are active in varying degrees throughout the country.

Swaziland is a member of the United Nations, UNESCO, WHO, the Economic Commission for Africa, and several other world and African organizations. It maintains diplomatic relations with 40 countries, including Israel, Mozambique, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all of whom have embassies in Mbabane. Swaziland also maintains diplomatic missions abroad in London; Washington, D.C.; Maputo, Mozambique; and Nairobi, Kenya.

Swaziland's flag consists of five horizontal bands: narrow blue (for peace), broad crimson (for past battles), and narrow blue, divided by gold stripes (for mineral resources). The large central emblem consists of an ox-hide shield and spears decorated with feathers.

Arts, Science, Education

Much of the Swazi artistic expression is reflected in traditional dances held several times a year nationally, and more frequently on a regional basis. Best known are the dances performed by special male troupes called Sibaca dancers; by puberty-age girls in the annual Reed Dance in reverence to the queen mother; and by men of the various age-group "regiments" in their year-end homage to the king on the occasion of the religious festival of Incwala. Choral singing is another form of artistic expression for the Swazis. Regional, national, and international competitions are held annually.

Swazi handicrafts are widely recognized as being among the most creative in Africa. In recent years, a lively export market has been established worldwide. The Mantenga Craft Center, located south of Mbabane near Swaziland's most famous waterfallMantenga Fallshas contributed to the success of the handicraft market in stimulating the natural weaving ability of local women trained at the center. Established in May 1976 as the country's original handicraft center, Mantenga Craft Center trains people in tapestry, rug-making, ceramics, screen-printing, and the making of silver jewelry. The center consists of a series of workshops converted from farmsheds situated in the cool shade of tall trees, and today employs 150 local craftspeople.

Pictorial tapestries, woven from handspun, hand-dyed wools, cotton, and mohair are among the most outstanding items produced at the center. Scenes depicted in the tapestries are based on the pastoral elements of daily traditional life. The workers at the center also produce intricate woven hair tapestries. These are based on the traditional African culture that decreed a wide range of hairstyles. The tapestries are woven in merino wool, with long thick strands of cotton or linen representing the hair, which is tied, twisted, and knotted in various styles. Many of these tapestries have been displayed in Europe or are in private collections. Handwoven cottons produced on fast-shuttle looms are another specialty of the Mantenga Craft Center. Designs are taken from traditional and contemporary symbols of local life and are sewn into placemats, tablecloths, and bedspreads. Beautifully shaped pottery, with a distinctive earthy look, is yet another facet of the center's craftsmanship.

Primary education in Swaziland is voluntary beginning at age six and lasting for seven years. Secondary education is by choice; it begins at age 13 and is divided into two cycles of three and two years.

Swaziland is the site of two campuses of the University of Swaziland, both some 20 miles southeast of Mbabane. The Kwaluseni campus houses the faculties of humanities, economics and social studies, education, and science; the Luyengo campus houses the faculty of agriculture, which operates a farm and several research stations around the country. In addition to the University, several schools exist for technical training, adult literacy, management, and teacher training.

In 1995, 77 percent of the Swazis were considered literate. Almost all of them have at least attended primary school.

Commerce and Industry

Since independence in 1968, Swaziland has made steady progress in terms of economic growth and has significant promise for the future. Given its size and population, it is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. Because of the pineapples and sugarcane grown here, it is often called the "African Hawaii."

Real growth averaged around 4.7 percent in the 1970s; from 1979 through 1982, it averaged about 1.7 percent; in 1984, it jumped to 11 percent. In 1990, real growth rate was estimated at five percent. This has been made possible by rapid expansion in the modern agricultural sector and through diversification of the economy as a whole. Swaziland's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $4.4 billion in 2000; per capita income was estimated to be about $4,000, making it one of the highest in Africa. However, this figure does not accurately represent the average Swazi, who is still a subsistence farmer.

About 60 percent of the country's land area is held by the Ngwenyama in trust for the Swazi nation. The remaining land is owned primarily by Europeans and commercial companies, many of whom are not resident in Swaziland. The problem of land alienation, stemming from the granting of extensive concessions to Europeans in the last two decades of the 19th century, is still large. However, under a British grant-financed program, the Swazi nation is acquiring under-utilized freehold land on a "willing buyer, willing seller" basis. Almost 70 percent of the country is unimproved grazing area.

About 75 percent of the country's exports go to South Africa. Agriculture and forestry account for approximately one-quarter of the GNP and employ three-quarters of the work force. However, due to the fact that most land in the country is owned by foreigners, the agricultural sector is almost entirely in non-Swazi hands.

The country's three sugar mills, all of which are irrigated, are located in the lowveld. The sugar industry (headquartered in the southeastern town of Big Bend) produces the largest export and employs close to 20 percent of the work force. Soft drink concentrate and sugar are the main exports. Much of the sugar is exported to the European Union countries. Wood pulp is produced from pine and eucalyptus trees harvested from some of Africa's largest man-made forests.

Swaziland's manufacturing is considered large for a developing country. Manufacturing activities consist primarily of five export-oriented sectors: wood pulp production, drink processing, fruit canning, refrigerators, and sugar processing. Mining has been declining in Swaziland. The Ngwenya iron ore mine, which opened in 1964, ceased production in 1978. Exports stopped late in 1980 with the depletion of the reserves. The Havelock asbestos mine is one of the largest in the world and is 15 percent government owned. In the past Swazis have valued cattle for their own sake as a nonproductive status symbol. They are increasingly regarding them as a source of milk, meat, and profit. Slaughter stock, hides, and skins are becoming important exports.

Tourism is a very important component of Swaziland's economy. Visitors are attracted to the country's game reserves and beautiful mountain scenery. Of the total number of visitors, most were from South Africa. Most South Africans are lured by the Swaziland Casino, since gambling is prohibited in South Africa. Most tourist visits to Swaziland are short, usually weekend visits. Nearly 300,000 tourists visit Swaziland each year.

Most of Swaziland's imports are of South African origin. Principal imports are motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, petroleum products, foodstuffs, and chemicals.

Remittances by Swazi nationals working in South African mines accounts for a significant percent of national income. Receipts from the Southern African Customs Union provides between a quarter and a half of the government's revenue.

The government promotes foreign investment through the National Industrial Development Corporation of Swaziland (NIDCS).

The Swaziland Chamber of Commerce and Industry is located in Mbabane. The mailing address is P.O. Box 72, Mbabane. The address of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism is B.P. 451, Mbabane.


Daily flights from Matsapha Airport, near Manzini, link Swaziland, with Johannesburg (for connections to main world routes). Twice weekly there are flights to Kenya, Lesotho, and Tanzania and there are five weekly flights to Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Flights leave for Maputo daily except Tuesday and for Durban four times a week. The Swaziland railway crosses from the Ngwenya iron ore mine, near Oshoek, to the Mozambique border, where it connects with the line to the port of Maputo. It does not, however, have passenger service.

A private car is essential for the enjoyment of any prolonged stay in Swaziland. Registration and licensing of motor vehicles is a simple procedure, which requires a road-worthiness certificate issued by the Public Works Department. The Mbabane and Manzini areas have taxis (few, expensive, and unreliable) and unscheduled buses. Scheduled buses link the main towns. Few Americans use public transportation

Traffic moves on the left. Good all-weather roads link the main centers, but most side roads are dusty and uneven during the dry season, and very slippery and dangerous during the rainy season. The maximum speed limit for all motorists is 50 miles per hour. Drivers must keep within the indicated limits; must be careful of pedestrians, particularly children; and must keep an eye open for stray cattle. It is not advisable to drive at a high speed on gravel roads, especially in wet weather.

Heavy mists, which blankets Mbabane and other areas of the highveld several months each year, combined with poor car maintenance, intoxication, and general risk-taking behind the wheel makes driving hazardous. Indeed, Swaziland has one of the highest accident rates and accident fatality rates in the world. It is highly recommended to wear seat belts at all times, to have children in car seats or seat belts, and to drive defensively. The crime rate in Swaziland, particularly violent crime and theft, is increasing. Car alarms and immobilizers are recommended to combat the escalating rate of car theft in Swaziland.

The main national highway runs from Oshoek on the western border to Lomahasha on the eastern border. It is paved for the 65 miles between Oshoek and Mpaka. The remaining 38 miles to Lomahasha are of fair-quality gravel. Thirty-one miles of paved road link the Usutu Forest settlement of Mhlambanyati with the main national highway.

Car dealerships in Mbabane include Audi, BMW, Mazda, Nissan, Opel, Toyota, and Volkswagen, Honda and Mercedes are available in Manzini.

Third-party insurance is covered by a levy included in the gasoline price. Comprehensive coverage is highly recommended because of the high rate of vehicle theft and accidents.


Telephones in Mbabane and Manzini operate on a dial system, and are connected to the rest of Swaziland and to international operators through the local exchange. Direct dialing is available for between many countries, including the U.S., and for calls from those cities to South African exchanges. International and local telegraph facilities are available. Fax machines are incorporated into most business and donor communities. International airmail takes about five days to two weeks between the U.S. and Swaziland.

The Swaziland Broadcasting Service (SBS) is on the air in both siSwati and English. FM is the popular mode, but there is one medium-wave station that also provides service. English service is on the air approximately eight hours per day (medium-wave only). Daily programs are listed in the local newspapers. South African broadcasts can be heard in most areas with normal aerials. Voice of America (VOA) medium-wave transmission can be picked up clearly in the evening, and other English-language short-wave transmissions, including the BBC, can be heard in Swaziland with a high-quality FM and short-wave receiver.

Color TV is broadcast by the Swaziland Television Broadcasting Corporation for five-six hours each evening, with extended service on weekends. Transmission includes local news and delayed international news from London as well as programs purchased in the U.S. and Europe. With special antennas, you can receive broadcasts from South Africa, including daily South African and international news and sports programming. American expatriates are advised to bring a multi-system or PAL/I TV set and VCR with them, as local broadcasts and videotapes are PAL/I system. Several video rental outlets have opened around Swaziland, carrying a good, up-to-date selection. Most tapes are PAL/I VHS format.

There are two daily English-language newspapers in Swaziland that are published Monday through Friday with separate weekend/Saturday editions. They are the privately-owned The Times of Swaziland and the parastatal The Swazi Observer. The Swazi News is published weekly. South African newspapers arrive in Swaziland about six hours after publication in Johannesburg. Two magazines are published monthly in Swaziland. Dzadze family magazine covers various aspects of Swazi life, customs, and politics, Swazi TV Times is a TV guide, with local news and events. International editions of Time and Newsweek are sold at newsstands. The Swaziland News Agency in Mbabane carries some London papers, arriving five days after publication, and a limited variety of magazines and paperbacks. Books can be borrowed from the National Library in Manzini, 25 miles from Mbabane, and from the privately-operated lending library in downtown Mbabane.


Adequate medical care is available in Swaziland for routine illnesses. Because there are no trauma or intensive care facilities in Swaziland, serious illnesses and accidents must be treated in South Africa. In such emergencies, helicopters airlift patients to Johannesburg or Pretoria to medical facilities and care that compare to those in the U.S. However, helicopter evacuations can only occur during daylight hours, in the absence of rain and fog. In addition to government hospitals and clinics throughout the territory, a few privately run clinics and hospitals operate, which Americans use more frequently. One of the latter, the Mbabane clinic, has 26 beds, major and minor operating rooms, and X-ray equipment. It also has a small medical laboratory, but complicated tests must be performed in South Africa. The Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini, operated under Nazarene missionary auspices, has 25 beds for private patient care, X-ray equipment, a small laboratory, and U.S.-trained anesthetists. A limited intensive-care unit is being added. The Mbabane clinic and the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital provide 24-hour medical care.

Swaziland lacks trained anesthetists and functioning EKG equipment. There are also no satisfactory delivery facilities. It is recommended that women plan to deliver in South Africa or elsewhere. There are physicians who provide prenatal care in Mbabane.

Most physicians are associated with the local government or missionary-run installations. About half of the physicians in the country were trained in Great Britain or South Africa. Mbabane and Manzini have adequately stocked pharmacies. Dental services are available from the clinic and from private expatriate dentists.

Public sanitation facilities (sewage, garbage disposal, etc.) run by the Mbabane and Manzini municipal governments are satisfactory. Water from the town supply is not considered safe for drinking. Milk from the local commercial dairies is pasteurized and is used by many American and other foreign families. Since dairy sanitary controls are not up to U.S. standards, some families prefer to use powdered milk.

Tuberculosis, bilharzia, malaria, venereal diseases, and tick fever, are endemic to Swaziland. Malaria is not found in the highveld, but it is found year round in the middleveld and lowveld areas. Those living in or traveling to the lowveld should take malaria suppressants and see a physician at the onset of any fever. Similarly, travelers to Mozambique, Kruger Park, and Natal should take malaria suppressants; in all cases, these should be effective against chloroquine-resistant malaria. Bilharzia is still prevalent in all streams, ponds, and lakes below 4,000 feet, and can be contracted simply by coming into contact with the water. Swimming, wading, or washing in natural bodies of water should be avoided here. Snakes, including poisonous species, are common in Swaziland, especially in the bushveld.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is an increasing problem in southern Africa as it is worldwide. Local blood supplies are not safe, although they are screened. The American community contributes to a "walking blood donor" program administered by the Embassy nurse. Advice on AIDS prevention is available from the health staff at the American Embassy and HIV testing is available locally.

Roaming dogs are sometimes rabid, even in Mbabane, and persons (especially children) who may be frequently in contact with them should receive injections against rabies.

Clothing and Services

Mbabane's climate is moderate throughout the year. However, the temperature can vary noticeably between morning and evening in both summer and winter. For this reason, the layered look is practical because various articles of clothing, including a sweater, can be added or removed. Several hot weeks in summer require light dresses or suits. Woolens and sweaters are sometimes needed for the rainy, misty weather common to Mbabane summers and are essential in winter. Therefore, a full range of clothing, including rainwear, is needed.

The only clothing taboo in Swaziland pertains to women wearing slacks and pantsuits. Mini-skirts, see-through blouses, and short tennis skirts are not appreciated in town. Women wear short dresses or skirts to work and in the evening.

Because of Swaziland's outdoor orientation, visitors will find a good pair of walking shoes useful. Adults should bring a supply of dress and regular shoes with them. It is impossible to find shoes in narrow widths such as AA. Children's shoes are available locally. Sandal-toe or support hose are not obtainable in Swaziland or South Africa.

A basic but limited selection of clothing is available in Mbabane at prices generally higher than in the U.S. Adults should bring most of their clothes with them.

The range of foodstuffs in Mbabane compares with that available in a small-to medium-size American town, but with occasional shortages. Several grocery stores, produce markets, bakeries, and butcher shops, as well as a delicatessen, are available. Items not available include chocolate chips, solid vegetable shortening, good vanilla extract, and other baking essentials. Some ingredients for Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic dishes are hard to find. However, many can be obtained on shopping trips to South Africa where those items are usually quite expensive. A full range of liquor is available in the local stores. Swaziland also has a brewery. Wine from South Africa is both inexpensive and quite good.

Most personal and household needs can be supplied in Mbabane; they are usually imported from South Africa and are expensive. Not all American brand name products are obtainable.

Clothing repair and dry cleaning facilities are available in Mbabane, but at a standard lower than in the U.S. Dressmakers and tailors are available. The quality is variable. Beauty salons and barbershops are available.

Some garages in town do adequate work on European and South African cars, but are rarely able to deal adequately with American makes. American-made cars should be taken to Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, or Ermelo (90 miles from Mbabane) for major repairs. Body work is available at a reasonable price.

Domestic Help

Most houses in Mbabane have servants quarters and many families hire domestic and garden workers. Domestic workers usually live in, sometimes with their children. Workers are usually provided a "13th-month" payment, a food allowance, overtime pay for babysitting and dinner parties, and many employers take responsibility for their worker's health care. An employment act lists minimum wages and other regulations concerning worker employment.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Mar.(2nd Mon) Commonwealth Day*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

Apr. 25 National Flag Day

May/JuneAscension Day*

July 22 King Sobhuza II's Birthday

Aug/SeptReed Dance Day*

Sept. 6 Independence Day

Dec. 25 Christmas

Dec. 26 Boxing Day



Swaziland is linked with international routes by regular air service to and from Matsapa Airport, which is about five miles from Manzini.

To enter the country, an American citizen needs only a valid passport unless he is entering from an endemic yellow fever area, in which case yellow fever immunization papers are required. Inoculations for infectious hepatitis A (gamma globulin), hepatitis B, yellow fever, tetanus, and typhoid are recommended before arrival.

Visitors or temporary residents must register with police within 48 hours of arrival.

An import permit for pets is required by the Swaziland Government and must be presented upon the pet's arrival. If the animal will transit South Africa, a South African transit permit for the animal is also required. Both permits can be mailed to the traveler if at least eight weeks notice is given. It is advisable to have several copies of all papers dealing with pets. The Swaziland Animal Welfare Society operates kennel facilities in Mbabane. They also have pets for adoption. A private veterinarian practices in Mbabane and several veterinarians are on contract with the Swazi Government.

Big game hunting is prohibited in Swaziland. Permits for hunting small game and birds are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture. Diplomatic personnel are discouraged from bringing firearms into Swaziland. Non-diplomatic personnel desiring to import firearms into Swaziland must obtain a permit in advance from the Firearms Licensing Board, P.O. Box 49, Mbabane or apply to the Royal Swazi Police.

Anglicans (Episcopalians), Baha'is, Baptists, Catholics, Christian Scientists, and Methodists hold Sunday services in English in Mbabane. There is a nondenominational Protestant Sunday school. The Nazarenes are very active throughout the country and have services in most towns. There is no synagogue, but the Israeli Embassy usually holds services on the important holidays. An Islamic Information Service organization and a Christian Women's Club are located in Mbabane. Several Bible study groups and prayer cells meet regularly.

The time in Swaziland is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus two hours.

Swaziland introduced its own currency (singular, lilangeni ; plural, emalangeni ) in 1974, although the South African rand is still freely accepted by local vendors on a par basis.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.

The U.S. Embassy is located in Mbabane in the Central Bank Building, Warner Street, P.O. Box 199; telephone (268) 404-6441/5; FAX (268) 404-5959.


These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Conway, Mike. Swaziland. Let's Visit Places and Peoples of the World Series. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.

Davies, Robert H. et al. The Kingdom of SwazilandA Profile. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1985.

Konczacki, Z.A., et al., eds. Studies in the Economic History of Southern Africa. Vol. 2, South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland. Portland, OR: International Specialized Book Services, 1991.

Leith, James, ed. Symbols in Life & Art. Cheektowaga, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1987.

Matsebula, J.A. History of Swaziland. Cape Town: Longman Press, 1988.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Kingdom of Swaziland
Region: Africa
Population: 1,083,289
Language(s): English, siSwati
Literacy Rate: 76.7%
Academic Year: August-May
Number of Primary Schools: 529
Compulsory Schooling: 7 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 5.7%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 196
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 205,829
  Secondary: 57,330
  Higher: 5,658
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 117%
  Secondary: 54%
  Higher: 6%
Teachers: Primary: 6,094
  Secondary: 2,954
  Higher: 467
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 34:1
  Secondary: 19:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 114%
  Secondary: 54%
  Higher: 6%

History & Background

The Kingdom of Swaziland, surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique, is a country of rolling grassy hills and pine forests covering mountains reaching up to 4,500 feet above sea level. It is the home of the Swazi, a group-oriented, Bantu-speaking people of Nguni descent who settled in the region of what is today Maputo in Mozambique around 1600. Since 1967 archaeologists have claimed that the Bomvu Ridge in the northwestern part of Swaziland is the site of the oldest iron mine in the world, confirming the belief that the knowledge of iron had its origin in this part of the world long before its use was discovered in the Middle East during the Neolithic period. Exploration of open-pit mines and underground adits revealed extremely ancient mining tools and some charcoal that, when dated, established that Africans in southern Africa had mastered the complicated process of separating iron from iron ore already during the Middle Stone Age, long before anybody in the rest of the world had. Archaeologists also found mines exploited for their black and red specularite. Black specularite, a highly valued glittering hematite, was used in the manufacturing of cosmetics and other facial creams. Cosmetics made from black specularite were valued because of their unique quality of enhancing beauty. Red specularite was used in funerary rites. Both black and red specularite were used for curative purposes. Beads and bracelets found amongst the chisels, hammers, wedges, and ax heads discovered at the iron mining sites have led to speculations that women assisted men in mining. These discoveries make Swaziland the original home of the science of cosmetology and metallurgy.

In the 1700s the Swazi chief, Ngwane II, led a group of his people over the Lebombo Mountains to what is today southeastern Swaziland. There they came upon the powerful state of Shiselweni whose people they united with the Swazi. During the nineteenth century, the Swazi came into conflict with the powerful Zulu nation. British traders and Boers (Dutch farmers from South Africa) also came to Swaziland in the 1830s. In the 1840s King Mswazi appealed to the British for help against the Zulu. In 1881 the British and the Transvaal governments guaranteed the independence of Swaziland. When gold was discovered in the 1880s, prospectors rushed into the region and deceived the Swazi leaders who could not read and write into signing away control of the land. In 1894 the British and the Boers agreed that the South African Boer Republic would govern Swaziland. This remained in place until 1899. After the South African Boer Republic lost a war with the British, Great Britain took control of Swaziland in 1902. In 1963 it became a British Protectorate, and on 6 September 1968 the independent Kingdom of Swaziland under the rule of King Sobhuza II was established. In 1973 the Ngwenyama (king) abolished the constitutional monarchy imposed by the British and Swaziland became governed as a modified traditional monarchy with executive, legislative, and limited judicial powers as are currently vested in King Mswati III. He rules by decree, according to unwritten law and custom, with the assistance of a council of ministers and national legislature and the help of the Ndlovukazi (mother of the king). Polygamy is legal in Swaziland and many Swazi, including the Ngwenyama, have several wives.

Western style education was introduced into Swaziland in 1902 and was designed to provide an education for the European children in this British colony. It was modeled on the segregationist system developed in the Transvaal province in South Africa. By 1916 eight government-maintained schools for European children had been founded and by 1920 free and compulsory education was available to all white children. The education of Swazi children, which never became free and compulsory under British rule, remained primarily the domain of the various Christian missions in Swaziland who established the first 'native' schools around 1900. By 1924, some 17 percent of school-age Swazi children were attending missionary and government-controlled schools where literary education was only provided in so far as it was perceived to be 'useful' for Swazi children. The emphasis was on agricultural and manual training. By 1929 the Swaziland Progressive Association advocated the direct involvement of the Swazi people in issues related to education. In 1940 the British administration enacted the Native Education Proclamation, giving the European Director of Education complete authority over all African schools. This was challenged in the years to come. In the years before the Second World War, the British Colonial office moved to increase the amount of education offered to Africans in the colonies and to increase literacy rates. This process was continued after the War as colonies were prepared for self-rule.

In 1963, as the Kingdom of Swaziland approached independence and saw as one of its goals the evolution of a non-racial society, the racially segregated educational system which had been developed in South Africa was rejected and a racially integrated school system was implemented. By 1965, there was a decreasing emphasis placed on 'industrial arts' or manual labor and an increased emphasis on arithmetic, English, Zulu, and other academic subjects in the syllabi for both primary and secondary schools instead. In 1968 a study authorized by the Resident Commissioner of Swaziland recommended that secondary education in Swaziland be reorganized so as to meet an independent Swaziland's need for a trained labor force, which included specialized workers, bureaucrats and professionals. After Independence in 1968, the goal of the new government was to attain universal primary education by 1985. In 1975 the National Education Commission set new guidelines stating that education should reflect Swazi life and custom and that the emphasis should not be solely on the academic, but also on the practical. During the 1990s the Swaziland Ministry of Education proposed a nine year basic education program that diversified the curriculum and included both academic and 'practical subjects' such as agriculture, home science, technical subjects, and commercial studies. Presently, further proposals are being made to increasingly diversify the curriculum at the senior level and increase the number of practical subjects in order to support a larger agricultural program. Today, in a country where the literacy rate is between 70 and 80 percent, the debate continues over the relevance of and the changes which might need to be made to the present educational system.

Traditional African society is, even in modern times, centered around the homestead, the principal social unit. As a result, traditional education, the responsibility of the entire community, seeks continuity and inter-generational communication as parents and older relatives teach the young respect and obedience as well as about their accumulated knowledge, ways, and traditions, which are related to the child's surroundings, to prepare them not only for adulthood and employment, but for every stage of life. Individualism is tempered with a group identity which is created because all Swazi people pass through various life stages together with their age mates and are taught to share, cooperate, be generous, brave, and loyal.

Through the process of colonization and the dominance of the Western style of life, Western formal education, which strives for change and relies on curriculum and an abstract examination system, is an alien import often in direct contrast to traditional African education and values, which creates a dichotomy with the existing traditional cultural value structures. Swazi students must cross between these two cultures every day. Yet, little attention has been paid to helping them adapt to their educational environment, which is in total contrast to the one they have inherited, and come to terms with Western formal education, which, though disruptive, is becoming increasingly important. Success at a Western-style school is the prerequisite for formal sector employment. Swazi parents generally wish their children to have access to both a Western-style education and to be grounded in the traditional practices of Swazi culture.

The process of acculturation and learning to live between cultures has been made even more difficult for the Swazi child whose father is part of the migrant labor force. Although Swaziland is primarily an agricultural society and has a varied economy and rich agricultural and mineral resources, most families have at least one member engaged in wage employment, most of which takes place in the gold mines and industries of South Africa. As Swazi children, even those born outside of marriage, can only gain family inheritance and status in society through their father, it is extremely important that they not only know their father, but grow up within the cultural kinship structures which ensure their acceptance and future identity in society. When fathers are continually absent, the place of the children in society often becomes ambiguous, and they exhibit negative attitudes toward formal learning. It is likely that the absence of fathers could be part of the problem behind the high drop out rate in Swazi schools and the relatively small number of students who go beyond primary school. As is the case in the majority of Africa, AIDS is becoming a serious threat. It is not yet apparent how this will affect educational patterns in the years to come.

Political, Social, & Cultural Bases in Education: Swaziland has a traditionally British-style formal education system. This means that the structure of the education system reflects that of England, that English is both a subject taught and the medium of instruction, that the education is Euro-centric rather than Afro-centric, and that the standards and rules for examinations are set in England and not in Mbabane. As students are prepared for the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate, the higher education, which follows the school leaving exam, will also be modeled along British lines, rather than according to African needs and criteria. While it can be argued that such an education gives those who are able to succeed greater access to international education and research, it can also be seen as one of the reasons for the high dropout rate. Since 1989 Swaziland has embarked on a program to localize senior high school level examinations.

Until the mid-1970s Swaziland shared a common examinations board and university with the other two former British Protectorates in the region, Lesotho (the former Basutoland) and Botswana. Even though Swaziland is landlocked and, except for the eastern border which adjoins the People's Republic of Mozambique, to a large extent surrounded by South Africa, once itself a British colony, its education system reflects little of its neighbor's system. Its dependence on foreign educators means that multinational characteristics are apparent in some of the developing educational structures. However, even though the government of Swaziland spends 34 percent of its total budget on education, some of the main challenges facing Swaziland's educators have been a lack of financial resources, which are needed to offset the growing demand for well-educated local teachers, as well as the need for literacy and vocational and technical training outside of the formal academic setting.

In modern day Swaziland a number of laws, which directly address children's issues, attest to the government's concern with the rights and welfare of children. A government task force educates the public on children's issues. Even though the government does not provide free, compulsory education, it has a 99 percent primary school enrollment rate. The government pays teachers' salaries while student fees pay for books and the building fund. Because of the high dropout rate, about 25 percent of primary and secondary students do not continue to attend school, in some cases because parents cannot afford the fees. Many capable youngsters find patrons to pay their fees or obtain scholarships in order to continue their schooling.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

In the first post-independence National Development Plan of 1969 and the 1972 Manifesto signed by the Imbokodvo National Movement, the Government of Swaziland proclaimed that education, whether in state subsidized or private schools, was to be controlled by the Government of Swaziland and an inalienable right that all children and citizens have regardless of their capabilities. The bias inherited from the colonial school system was to be uprooted, and students were to be educated not merely as clerks, teachers, and nurses, but also in other areas. As the purpose of education is to produce an enlightened and participant citizenry, its content must be work-oriented from the primary to the higher levels. The government sees as its goal the universal, free primary education for every child of Swaziland and that merit and aptitude will be the only criteria for selection into secondary and other forms of higher education. The government will continue to provide special state bursaries and scholarships for higher education; improved and enlarged facilities for secondary education, with special extra-mural facilities; and special schools and specialized educational institutions for handicapped and retarded children. Love for the land, loyalty to the King and the country, self-respect, self-discipline, respect for the law, the highest degree of knowledge, and the building of character are the goals of education. The Manifesto emphasizes that teachers are crucial in the implementation of Swaziland's educational policies and should be well provided for.

Swaziland has set and monitored its educational goals within the framework of five-year National Development Plans. The First National Development Plan (1969-1973) focused mainly on the expansion and improvement of primary and secondary education, the training of teachers, and curriculum development. A particular concern was the eradication of illiteracy and that all Swazi citizens should be provided with an education appropriate to their needs and abilities and to the country's development requirements. Progress made in these first five years after Independence was such that the Second National Development Plan (1973-1978) could place emphasis on the restructuring and the raising of the quality of education. By the time of the Fourth National Development Plan (1984-1988), the government was able to focus on improving quality and relevance in education and expand teacher training. While continuing dropout and failure rates, overcrowded classrooms, and inadequate educational facilities indicate that many of the goals were not met, the plan is evidence of the Swazi government's commitment to education.

Language Policy: At independence Swaziland, like most other African countries, faced the need to make a choice regarding both the national and the official language they were to use. Such a decision involves practical issues of survival, such as economic trade and development and international communication. There were also issues relating to political, social, cultural, and personal identity. In the Anglo and Francophone countries, the languages of the colonial powers were already the official languages used for administrative, legal, and economic purposes. They were, however, also the language of the oppressor, the one being asked to give the indigenous nation its independence and leave. The national language, on the other hand, is the language of the people, the language of pride, self-worth, and cultural and national identity. It is the language that was ignored or even ridiculed by the colonial power, and at best it was a minor subject taught in school. It is, however, also a language not equipped as a vehicle for wider communication and trade. Unlike many other African countries, Swaziland has only one national language, siSwati. The dilemma facing educators is that in the midst of the process of encouraging students to gain their own national and cultural identity through education, there is the implicit suggestion that their own language is inadequate and therefore inferior.

Though the education system was inadequate and the formal education received by Swazi children was unequal to that of whites, Swaziland, like most British colonies and in comparison to some of its immediate neighbors, had a relatively useful educational system at independence. However, English was the medium of instruction. It was thus almost inevitable that English would continue to be the language used in the classroom. Also, in 1966, when Swaziland became independent, it would have been difficult to provide secondary school education through siSwati as the latter had not yet been developed as a written language. In 1967 siSwati was introduced as a school subject and other languages such as Zulu and Afrikaans, two of South Africa's languages, were phased out. SiSwati was tested for the first time at the Primary School Examination in 1975, the Junior Certificate level in 1978, and the Senior Certificate level in 1980.

The early years of primary school are generally taught in siSwati, and English is one of the subjects taught. English, as the medium of instruction for all subjects, is used exclusively from the secondary level onward. It is also taught as a subject. It is impossible to pass either the Junior or the Senior Certificate exams without passing English. The country's bilingual education system causes some concern for educators. Psychologically the learning of English, the requirement that students speak it fluently to whose who speak English as a first language, and the studying of all subjects in a language totally foreign in style, cultural base, and concept to one's own, as well as having to compete with others in their mother-tongue, is far too exacting a task for any but the most linguistically talented students. It is highly probable that this state of affairs disadvantages many students' prospects and can be one of the reasons for the high failure and dropout rate. On the other hand, English is the language of international access and studying in English gives those able to attain the necessary language skills access to the international world of science, technology, commerce, and politics as well as to the Internet.

Efforts to promote cultural identity and nationalism through the regular use of siSwati have met with positive responses since it gained recognition as a written language rich in literature and vocabulary. In order to develop a sense of national pride and emphasize the importance of having one's own language, siSwati is taught from a pure linguistic and historical linguistic point of view at the university level. Local writers are being encouraged to write within the local environment, and book publishers such as Macmillan and Longman are running writing workshops to further these endeavors. Well-known writers from South Africa have given talks at these workshops, and UNESCO has sponsored a research project which includes lexicographical field work to promote the love, awareness, and importance of Swazi culture.

Educational SystemOverview

Swaziland's school system consists of twelve school years. The seven years of elementary or "Junior School" (Grades 1 to 7) culminate in the Swaziland Primary Certificate. The three years of junior secondary school (High School - Forms I to III) culminate in the Junior Certificate (J.C.). The two years of higher secondary school (High School - Forms IV to V) lead to the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (C.O.S.C.) at the Ordinary Level (O levels).

There are very high dropout rates throughout elementary and secondary school. The government has insufficient resources to provide either enough secondary schools or to provide alternate education or training for those who do not complete elementary or secondary school. Poverty and traditional constraints also play a role here.

Preprimary & Primary Education

There are very few preprimary or nursery schools in Swaziland. Nearly all preprimary schools are privately operated. Consequently, only a very small percentage of Swazi children are enrolled.

Government-maintained primary schools in Swaziland cater to more than 155,000 students. Influenced by the British colonial system, primary education consists of seven levels. The first two years are called Grades 1 and 2, and the next five years are called Standards 1 to 5. At the age of six or seven, children attend comprehensive, academically oriented schools and study a core of general education subjects. SiSwati is the medium of instruction until Standard 2, and English is one of the subjects taught. In Standard 2 the transfer to English is made. SiSwati is then taught as a school subject. Other core courses offered are mathematics, Zulu, science, and social science. Agriculture, home economics, physical education, and developmental studies are also offered in some schools.

At the completion of the seventh year of "junior school," the Swaziland Primary Certificate exam, prepared by the Department of Education, is administered. The result of this exam is the most important criteria for admission into secondary education or "high school." However, because of the shortage of secondary school places, passing the Swaziland Primary Certificate does not guarantee admission into a high school.

According to official statistics, there were twenty-eight primary school students per teacher in 1996. However, these figures are misleading as numbers vary dramatically in rural and urban areas.

Urban & Rural Schools: Often there are much older children and even some adults in the elementary school classrooms. This is not as common an occurrence as it used to be when Western-style formal education was first introduced and is not generally regarded as a problem either by the students or the teachers. Primary school teaching varies in the different areas and is largely dependent on the qualification and level of sophistication of the teachers. The latter will vary in the rural and urban areas. The acute shortage of teachers has out of necessity led to the use of unqualified teachers.

Repeaters & Dropouts: In 1993 the United Nations Children's Fund indicated a 100 percent enrollment rate of the primary school age population. In reality, however, the Swaziland Government predicted in 1992 that for every hundred pupils entering grade one that year, only 22.4 percent would complete primary school within the seven year time period and only 6.6 percent were expected to complete the entire secondary school cycle and enter tertiary level education.

By the mid-1990s the national average for children dropping out before reaching Grade 5 was 5.2 percent. The dropout rate is higher in the rural areas rather than in the urban areas where the best schools and the wealthiest people can be found, all of which leads to lower dropout rates. There were also more repeaters in the rural than in the urban areas, and statistics released by the Swaziland Government show that 17 percent of boys repeated but only 13 percent of girls did. Of those who dropped out in the rural areas, most did so because of personal crises, the majority related to lack of financial resources and secondly to pregnancy, rather than because of lack of academic readiness or qualifications. Inability to pay tuition fees and purchase uniforms means that children are sent home until parents can afford the tuition payments. The need for boys to tend livestock, especially when the father is a migrant worker, leads to absenteeism and repetition. Because of the breakdown of traditional Swazi culture and the absence of migratory fathers, women can no longer depend on the institution of marriage and the extended family to support them and their children. Thus girls are often more highly motivated to attain a good education than boys are.

Secondary Education

General Survey: Government and government-aided secondary schools in Swaziland cater to more than twenty thousand students. Entrance into a secondary school depends on whether students have passed the Swaziland Primary Certificate Exam and whether there are seats available in a secondary school. Only about one in five students enrolled in primary school can go on to secondary school. Secondary education is neither free nor compulsory, fees are charged for tuition and books, and all secondary schools are comprehensive and geared towards the goal of obtaining entrance to a university. Recently, more practical education in the form of optional vocational courses are being offered.

Most schools provide study periods within the school day for the preparation of homework. Extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs, occur after the school day. Many schools provide boarding facilities for students. According to official statistics, there were 16 secondary school students per teacher in 1996. However, these figures are misleading as numbers vary dramatically in rural and urban areas.

CurriculumExaminations, Diplomas: Forms I to III, the first three years of junior secondary school, lead to the Junior Certificate (J.C.), administered originally by the Examinations Council of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland but more recently by the Swaziland Ministry of Education. Forms IV to V, the last two years of High School, prepare students for the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (C.O.S.C.) examinations at the Ordinary (O) level. Only three schools in the three countries offer Form VI which leads up to the Advanced (A) level examinations.

As the J.C. is the most common entry-level qualification for employment, there has been greater emphasis on the curriculum for Forms I to III. Consequently, the syllabus leading up to the O level exam has often been unrelated to the syllabus of the previous years, causing students to have to cram the entire syllabus into their last two years of study. Today there is greater coordination between the two different levels.

The curriculum leading to the J.C. exam is based on seven subjects a year, with forty 40-minute periods each week. The core subjects are Englishnine periods a week; integrated scienceeight periods a week; mathematicsseven periods a week; and siSwatifour periods a week. Four periods a week are devoted to either development studies, geography, or history. Another four periods are devoted to a practical subject such as agricultural studies, typing or bookkeeping, domestic science, or woodwork.

In order to comply with the requirements of the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate Examinations (C.O.S.C.), the Swaziland Ministry of Education recommends that students choose the arts curriculum which consists of seven subjects requiring forty periods per week and the following subjects: five periods per week English Language; four periods per week English literature; seven periods per week mathematics and biology; five hours per week of either siSwati or French; four or five hours per week of two subjects from the group Development Studiesgeography and history; and five hours per week of one practical subject.

Should students wish to follow the Cambridge Science Curriculum, the core curriculum consists of five periods per week of English Language, seven periods per week of Mathematics, five or six periods per week of Biology, and eight hours per week of Physical Science.

Promotion at the end of each year is based on final exams and on overall evaluation of the students' work during the year. The principal, the teachers, and the community set the grading standards. Often grading standards vary. This is due to the fluctuating availability of teachers and to the fact that some courses are often not taught in the more remote parts of the country. Consequently, the examination results do not always reflect the students' aptitude for further education.

In an attempt to diversify the secondary school curriculum, Matsapha Swazi National High School offers an increased number of courses in development studies, home economics, and commercial subjects, as well as the traditional academic subjects. Waterford-Kahlamba School, an international private school, not part of the Swazi educational system, offers an A-level curriculum.

Teachers: Secondary school teachers are, theoretically, trained at the postsecondary level. In practice, however, there is a severe shortage of qualified secondary school teachers and those who are qualified will often elect not to teach in remote areas or in areas where there is no electricity or running water. Which courses are offered depends on the ability of an area to attract qualified teachers. As a result of the teacher shortage, there is a heavy reliance on expatriate teachers, in some areas as high as two-thirds, supplied by the United States or through the Peace Corps, for example. This state of affairs provides neither continuity nor cultural understanding of the pupils in the educational system.

Vocational Education: Two types of technical and vocational education are available: Pre-service vocational education in, amongst others, agriculture, commerce, or nursing is obtained in a school setting within a formalized system of education; and In-service, which is out-of-school education where apprenticeship is the primary element of the program. Most of these programs, though supported by the government, have been established with foreign technical and financial assistance and are therefore influenced by foreign educational systems.

The Swaziland College of Technology (S.C.O.T.) in Mbabane works in close cooperation with the University of Swaziland, which is responsible for setting the regulations and awarding certificates to students who train to be technical teachers at S.C.O.T. Certificates awarded qualify recipients to teach at the J.C. level, and diploma courses qualify recipients to teach through Form V. Certificates are also awarded in library studies and in English proficiency related to technical studies.

During the 1970s the debate in Swaziland centered around the concern regarding whether education should be for a few or for all, whether quality should be stressed, and how much tradition should be incorporated in regarding the need to adapt to modern technological demands. It was decided that education should be integrated with work, and students should be prepared at any stage for life in predominantly rural communities. Accordingly, subjects were introduced which would prepare students to participate more fully in industrial, agricultural, and community development and not only in the academic areas. Today agricultural subjects, elective subjects in the J.C. and O level exams, prepare students for practical participation in the Swazi economy and also qualify them for further academic studies.

The Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Swaziland offers agricultural education at the certificate and diploma levels as well as at the degree level. The J.C. is required for admission to the two year secondary-level certificate course. The C.O.S.C. with credits in English and mathematics is required for entrance to the two-year programs that award diplomas in agriculture, agricultural education, animal production and health, and home economics. All students undertake practical assignments, some, for example, on the experimental farm run by the university.

Higher Education

The University of Swaziland (UNISWA), the National University of Lesotho, and the University of Botswana, are offshoots of a common university. These universities had their origin in the Pius XII College, a Catholic University College which was founded by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of Southern Africa on 8 April 1945 on a temporary site at Roma. The objective of the College was to provide African Catholic students with a post-matriculation (high school exit exam) and religious education. In 1946 the College moved to its permanent site, and by 1959 it had 171 students from the original 5. By 1963 the number of students had grown to 180 and necessary facilities had been added.

At that time there was a special agreement with the University of South Africa in Pretoria, a distance education institution which examined the students and offered degrees in Arts, Science, Commerce, and Education. In the early 1960s, as apartheid legislation in South Africa became more restrictive, problems arose with regard to student residence requirements. Consequently, an independent, non-denominational university was established by Royal Charter through the High Commission for Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland. On 1 January 1964, under a Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth II of England, the Pius XII College became an integral part of the independent, non-denominational University of Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland. In 1966, after independence was granted to present day Botswana and Lesotho, the name was changed to the University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Its first degrees in 1967 were offered in four-year programs in science and education and a law degree, which included two years of study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The University was funded equally by the governments of all three countries, but the main campus was in Lesotho. There was also no university presence in the other two countries with the exception of the beginnings of the Faculty of Agriculture in Luyengo, Swaziland. After independence in 1966, campuses were established in Gaborone, Botswana and Kwaluseni, Swaziland.

On 20 October 1975, the Roma campus in Lesotho withdrew to become the National University of Lesotho. The other two constituent colleges continued as the University of Botswana and Swaziland until July 1982, when separate universities were established. The University of Swaziland (UNISWA) has two campuses - one at Luyengo for agricultural faculty and another at Kwaluseni for academic and professional courses. Undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in the arts, sciences, commerce, education, and law are offered. Courses are also available in accounting, business management, and marketing. The enrollment for the 1996-1997 academic year was 2,533 full-time students.

Admission to degree courses require the C.O.S.C. with a credit in English language and in mathematics if the student wishes to follow the B.Sc. program or the Matriculation Certificate of the Republic of South Africa, provided credit has been gained for English at the Higher Grade Level. Bachelor's degree programs are generally four years in duration with the academic year broken into two semesters of fifteen weeks each. A final exam is administered at the end of each year. In the grading system, the grade of A, a First Class degree, is rarely given. Grades of B and C are considered very strong grades and to receive a D is to receive a respectable grade. In order to receive a degree, an overall D average must be obtained.

In line with the British influence, Master's degree programs are normally research-oriented, though some coursework may be required. Masters degrees are offered in the arts, science, and education. Ph.D. Programs are research-oriented. UNISWA's professors are well qualified. Many are expatriates, which gives the university an international character. Special care has also gone into the funding and setting up of the library.

UNISWA's Division of Extra-Mural Services (D.E.M.S.) provides part-time studies in several fields and has developed a distance learning program for the Certificate in Adult Education that provides basic professional training to personnel already engaged in adult education. Prerequisites for admission are the Junior Certificate in Education plus two years of relevant work experience. Other alternative qualifications are considered. The Department also offers correspondence courses based on the Cambridge GCE O-level syllabus.

Higher education is free for qualified students. Apart from UNISWA's two campuses there are three teachertraining colleges, two nursing colleges, various vocational institutions, and the Swaziland College of Technology. The government provides adult education to improve literacy.

Nonformal Education

Economic constraints, vast distances between cities, and the remoteness of large numbers of the population in even a relatively small country like Swaziland make it necessary for many people to obtain education, especially higher, through distance education. It is thus not always easy to distinguish between formal and nonformal education. The Swaziland International Education Centre, which opened in 1973 in Mbabane, provides continuing education for adult Swazis throughout the country. It supervises an intensive program of correspondence courses leading to the junior certificate examination. Numbers enrolled exceed 1,500 individuals per year, of whom approximately 1000 are over 20 years of age. The Emlalatini Development Centre, funded by the Ministry of Education and sponsored by the Danish Development Agency, provides alternative educational opportunities for school children and young adults who have not been able to complete their schooling because they have failed to obtain adequate examination results. Through correspondence material, short residential courses and radio they offer English, mathematics, social studies, science, siSwati, religious studies, and home economics to students wishing to complete either their Secondary Education or vocational training.

The Swaziland government's keenness to further education in the country is seen in the large amount of the budget it allocates both to education and to telecommunications. By 1968 Swaziland Broadcasting Service made 9 hours of educational radio broadcasting per week available, by 1991 some 18 hours per week were allotted, and, during school terms, one third of all week day programs are directed to school use. The Ministry of Education, aided by UNESCO, has conducted training courses in the production of educational television programs and has built a special studio for educational television program production and broadcasting so that transmission can be extended throughout the nation. Commercial companies have also donated television sets to some schools.

The Institute of Development Management in Swaziland, with the help of funds from Canada, organizes courses for middle and senior levels of management in the civil service and state-run concerns. Telecommunications technical training is available at the Swaziland College of Technology. Swaziland also operates a Multi Country Training Centre jointly with Malawi, Lesotho, and Botswana.

In 1980, several African countries comprising mainly of the so-called front-line states, those countries most affected by the political struggle in and most economically dependant on South AfricaAngola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwejoined together to form the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC). In 1992 they were joined by Namibia. In 1994 South Africa became the eleventh member of the organization, which was then renamed the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The role of these organizations was to encourage economic independence for its members through the improvement of national and inter-country communications infrastructures, the growth of inter-country trade and cultural ties, and the mutual support of each country's educational system. By implementing joint training facilities and organizing joint training sessions in these countries, the Southern African Transport and Communications Commission (SATCC), one arm of the SADC, promoted cooperation in human resource development. SATCC also promotes cooperation among the telecommunications administrations of the region via the Pan African Telecommunications (Panaftel) microwave network and satellite links, international gateway exchanges, and earth stations. These projects undertaken by Penaftel are vital for the furthering of distance education both in Swaziland. Swaziland's strong telecommunications infrastructure, the high literacy and educational level of its population, and its well-developed radio and television network make it a practicable proposition for distance education initiatives of organizations such as the Commonwealth of Learning.

Teaching Profession

Teacher training takes place at both the secondary and tertiary levels. Programs are offered at both teacher training colleges and universities. While the Swaziland Primary Certificate is generally regarded as too low a standard of admission, it may be accepted, especially because of the shortage of teachers. Most programs, however, require either a J.C. or the C.O.S.C. with passes in English and mathematics. Students who are admitted with a J.C. are expected to catch up with C.O.S.C. holders. Most programs require two years, some require three.

Programs at Swaziland's three teacher training colleges:

  • The Primary Teachers' Certificate, requiring a J.C. plus two years secondary education.
  • The Secondary Teachers Certificate, requiring the C.O.S.C. plus two years tertiary education.

The teacher training colleges also offer professional certificates for in-service study. These range from lower certificates for upgrading unqualified and underqualified teachers to higher certificates for furthering the training of qualified teachers.

Programs offered at the University of Swaziland:

  • The Certificate in Primary Education, requiring the C.O.S.C. plus three years of tertiary education.
  • The Diploma in Education, requiring the Primary or Secondary Teachers' Certificate plus two years experience and one year tertiary education.
  • The Diploma in Adult Education, requiring the C.O.S.C. plus four years experience and one and a half years tertiary education.

The Secondary Teacher Training Program consists of education courses and a basic core of English, social studies, and the preparation of teacher aids. Students may specialize in either home economics or elementary technology. They may also choose English, in which they cover general composition and general literature, siSwati, or religious knowledge as their major area.

The University of Swaziland offers university level education programs which may lead to a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.), a Concurrent Diploma in Education, a Post Graduate Diploma, or a Masters of Education (M.Ed.).

Unions & Associations: The Swaziland National Association of Teachers claims membership of 75 percent of the nation's teachers at all levels. The relationship between the Teachers Union and the Ministry of Education is tense at times, primarily because the Education Ministry is answerable to the Swaziland central government, and the latter, being more concerned about its politics and finances than about the changing conditions in the nation's classrooms, resents criticism of the nation's education bureaucracy.


Education in Swaziland needs to increasingly reflect the character and the culture of the people themselves without sacrificing either vocational or workplace preparedness or access to the international community. The long history of colonization has called into question the cultural and national identity of the people. Now the threat is that international globalization and the attempt to educate young people for a life in Europe or in the United States, instead of in their own culture, or to be merely marketable in the commercial arena once again threatens the identity of the Swazi people. The reasons for high dropout and high repeater rates are not necessarily to be found only in the school system itself. For the children of Swaziland to succeed in school and for the educational system to be truly relevant with regard to both the international and the domestic requirements of the people, there needs to be closer collaboration between the educational system and the perceived wishes, needs, and anxieties of the general population. Parents who desire that their children should be educated but, because of lack of education or lack of personal involvement, feel alienated from the school system that educates their children need to be included in decision-making processes. Greater dialogue between parents, educators, school administrators, and political, economic, and social leaders is essential if the frustration many feel at the discrepancy between expectations and possible achievement of academic and personal goals is to be reduced.


Booth, Margaret Zoller. "Parental Availability and Academic Achievement among Swazi Rural Primary School Children." Comparative Education Review 40 (August 1996): 250-263.

. "Western Schooling and Traditional Society in Swaziland." In Comparative Education 33 (1997): 433-451.

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. U.S. Department of State, 25 February 2000. Available from

Chisenga, Justin. Global Information Infrastructure and the Question of African Content. IFLA Council and General Conference, 20-28 August 1999. Available from

Cranmer, David J., and Valerie A. Woolston. Southern Africa: A Study of the Educational Systems of Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Southwest Africa / Namibia and Swaziland with an Addendum on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia: A Guide to the Academic Placement of Students in Educational Institutions of the United States. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 1980.

Magalula, Cisco. "Implementing Educational Policies in Swaziland." World Bank Discussion Papers 88. (1990).

Mordaunt, Owen G. "Swaziland's Language Policy for Schools." Educational Studies 16 (1990): 131-140.

Mutunhu, Tendai. "Africa: The Birthplace of Iron Mining." Negro History Bulletin 44 (January-March 1981): 5, 20.

Karin I. Paasche

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Kingdom of Swaziland



Swaziland is a small landlocked country in southern Africa, with an area of 17,363 square kilometers (6,704 miles), extending 176 kilometers (109 miles) north to south and 135 kilometers (84 miles) east to west. By comparison, it is slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. It shares a border of 105 kilometers (65 miles) to the east with Mozambique and is otherwise surrounded by South Africa, with which it shares a total border of 430 kilometers (267 miles). It is divided from east to west into 4 well-defined regions: the High-Veld, Middle-Veld, and Low-Veld, and the Lubombo plain and escarpment. Their height ranges from the High-Veld in the west which rises to 1,850 meters (6,070 feet) and the Low-Veld which stands at only 300 meters (985 feet) above sea level. The country is traversed by rivers and streams, making it one of the most well-watered areas of southern Africa.


In 2001, the population was estimated at 1,101,343. The population has risen from 906,000 in 1997, and from 712,313 in 1986. The population grew at 2.9 percent annually between 1970-90 and 2.8 percent between 1990-97, while life expectancy in 2001 was 60 years (though the CIA World Factbook reports a figure of 38.62 years). The population growth rate in 2001 was1.83 percent, based on a birth rate of 40.12 per 1,000 and a death rate of 21.84 per 1,000, all based on 2001 estimates. About 33 percent of the population live in urban areas. It is a relatively young population with more than half of the population below 20 years of age.

Around 90 percent of the population are Swazi (although there are around 70 district groups), and most of the rest are Zulu, Tonga, Shangaan, European, and people of mixed descent. Large numbers of Mozambicans fled to Swaziland to escape the civil war in their country, but repatriation was completed in 1993 following a return to peace in Mozambique. About 77 percent of Swazi are Christian, with the rest practicing Islam or traditional faiths. English is an official language and the language of government and business, and is widely spoken alongside siSwati, the other official language.


Swaziland has one of the highest per capita income levels in Africa, although it is, after the Gambia, the smallest state on the mainland of the continent. According to the CIA World Factbook, Swaziland's gross domestic product ( GDP) per capita in 2000 was estimated at US$4,000 at purchasing power parity , high enough to rank Swaziland as a middle-income country.

Swaziland experienced slow growth in the 1980s and early 1990s, a period much influenced by world recession and then political changes in South Africa, but there were still increases in the gross national product (GNP) per head of 2.3 percent a year over the period 1980 to 1993. Swaziland has, over the longer period, had one of the most liberal policies towards foreign and private investment in all of Africa. Its vulnerability lies in heavy export dependence on soft drink concentrate and sugar cane and on the strong economic links with South Africa which provides imports, an export market, investment, and employment.

Since the late 1980s the country's economic situation has improved noticeably. The economy has grown more rapidly and foreign investment expanded. A significant part of the food produced is now sold to the European Union (EU). This improvementinitially a direct consequence of trade sanctions against South Africa which forced the EU to turn to Swaziland as an alternative source of food supplieshas allowed the manufacturing sector to increase in importance, contributing 20 percent of the GDP by 1991 and helping the country raise its economic growth rate to 3.5 percent per year.

There is a dual administration of Swaziland's official resources. The communal land resources (known as Swazi National Land or SNL) and the minerals, are managed by Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, an independent institution created by Royal Charter in 1968 and not responsible to Parliament. The non-communal land and all the other resources are subject to the legislation of Parliament.

Swaziland is committed to a free market economy and private ownership: nationalization is illegal. The Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority was set up in 1997 to encourage the growth of private business. Investment accounted for 34 percent of the GDP in 1997, and foreign direct investment was 5.7 percent of the GDP, both very high figures. The government wants to encourage the expansion of industrial sites. The Swaziland stock exchange was established in 1990 and by the late 1990s had 6 companies listed and a market capitalization of US$129 million.


Swaziland, a British protectorate since 1867, became independent on 6 September 1968. The Kingdom of Swaziland is an absolute monarchy. The king appoints the prime minister and the council of ministers (cabinet) and can legislate by decree. A new constitution was launched in 1968. However, in 1973 the king repealed the constitution, abolishing Parliament and all political parties.

A system of government with elections for local councils, who then chose their representatives in the National Assembly, was introduced in 1978, creating a 2-tier form of representative government which was reformed in 1993 to allow the introduction of secret ballots and the direct election of National Assembly members. The vote was granted to all citizens over the age of 21 who were not insane or had not committed serious crimes. There are 30 senators, of whom 20 are appointed by the king and 10 elected by the National Assembly. The National Assembly consists of 65 deputies, of whom 55 are directly elected from candidates nominated by the local councils and 10 appointed by the king.

In 1998 government revenues amounted to 27 percent of the GDP. The most recent year for which tax revenue data are available is 1987, when taxes on income, profits, and capital gains generated 38 percent of government revenue, domestic taxes on goods and services 11 percent, export levies and import duties 42 percent, other taxes 1 percent, and non-tax revenue 7 percent.

The corporate income tax is 37.5 percent. Small mining companies with net income below the equivalent of around US$2,500 are taxed at 27 percent. There is a withholding tax of 15 percent on dividends paid overseas, and dividends paid to residents are taxed at 10 percent. There are tax breaks for companies producing for export, and for companies with staff training programs.


Swaziland has a good road network with 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of roads, 28 percent of which were paved by 1997. In 1997, there were 78,900 motor vehicles licensed, 4,320 of which were government-owned. Rail service is for freight only. The Kadaka-Goba line links up with Mozambique's Maputo line (providing Swaziland with access to the sea), and since 1986 there has been a direct heavy-duty connection between Mpaka and South Africa. Matsapha International Airport is 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Manzini. The national airline, Royal Swazi National Airways Corporation, operates flights throughout the region.

Swaziland generates its power from coal and hydropower. Oil and the coal used for domestic energy generation are imported from South Africa. Swaziland Electricity Board imports over 80 percent of its electricity from South Africa and generates the balance from diesel and hydropower. In 1998 Swazis consumed 198 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. On-site power generation takes place at the large sugar and wood pulp plants (from waste sugar cane or scrap wood), but they only generate for their own needs. Wood is still an important fuel for the rural population.

English language dailies are The Times of Swaziland and The Swami Observer. There were 27 daily newspapers in 1996. The Swaziland Broadcasting Service runs several radio stations, broadcasting in siSwati and English. There is a television channel, run by the Swaziland Television Authority (STA), which covers 80 percent of the population and 60 percent of the country. STA has a monopoly in the TV rentals market. There were 170 radios and 23 TV sets per 1,000 people in 1996.

All the main population centers have post offices. International direct dialing is available. The telephone network comprises 14 digital, 5 analog, and 3 manual exchanges. There were 33,500 telephone main lines in use in 2000, in addition to 20,000 cellular phones.


The economy of Swaziland depends on soft drinks concentrates and sugar cane for export revenue and on South Africa, which provides significant trade investment and employment. However, Swaziland has one of the best

Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Swaziland 33,500 (2000) 30,000 (2000) AM 7; FM 6 (2000) 155,000 10 (2000) 21,000 3 4,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542;shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
South Africa 5.075 M (1999) 2 M (1999) AM 14; FM 347;shortwave 1 13.75 M 556 5.2 M 44 1.82 M
Lesotho 20,000 1,262 (1996) AM 1; FM 2;shortwave 1 104,000 1 (2000) 54,000 1 1,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

business environments in Africa as a result of its liberal policies towards foreign and private investment since independence. In 2000, the composition of Swaziland's GDP was as follows: agriculture, 10 percent; industry, 46 percent; and services, 44 percent.


Agriculture's share of the GDP fluctuates with the fortunes of the harvest, accounting for 10 percent of the GDP in 2000, 13 percent in 1998, and 11 percent in 1994. The chief products are sugar, wood pulp, maize, citrus, and pineapples. About 44 percent of land is held on a free-hold basis (that is, the ownership is for an indefinite period in which the owner is free to buy and sell the land), mainly by non-Swazis. Large estates controlled mainly by Europeans produce the sugar, citrus fruits, and forestry products that dominate exports. The remainder of the land, known as Swazi Nation Land (SNL), is farmed on a small-scale by 70 percent of the population, in many cases on a part-time basis. The land is held in trust by the king. All Swazis are entitled to land, which is allocated by the chiefs according to traditional procedures.

Sugar used to be the mainstay of the economy until it was overtaken by fruit concentrates. However, it remains the country's largest source of employment. Maize, the country's staple food, and cotton are the main products of SNL farmers. Large-scale cotton production is being introduced as the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation begins to diversify into this crop. Oranges and grapefruit are grown for export on large estates, mainly controlled by Europeans, and mainly in the Low-Veld area.

Unbleached wood pulp is 1 of Swaziland's main export earners. Plantations cover 6 percent of the country, mainly in the High-Veld. Nearly two-thirds of this is made up of Usutu forest, one of the largest man-made forests in the world. The Usutu forest consists mainly of pine and eucalyptus and alone provides about 12 percent of the world supply of wood pulp. The Usutu pulp company is the country's largest employer. Indigenous industry produces mining and construction timber and furniture from local wood, some of which is exported.

Cattle are the traditional sign of wealth, and 80 percent of the cattle population remains in the hands of Swazi smallholders . The traditional nature of cattle raising has led to the slow development of the meat industry, as there is a strong resistance to offering cattle for slaughter. Domestic milk production is increasing and beef, tinned and frozen, is exported to the EU and South Africa.


The industrial sector is dominated by agro-industries involving local sugar, wood pulp, citrus and other fruit, cotton, and meat. Swaziland has been successful in attracting investment from Coca-Cola (which opened a concentrate plant in 1986) and Cadbury (which opened a new sweets factory in 1989). These, combined with continued investment from the Far East (4 Taiwanese-owned textile plants were opened in 1986), and investments in the mid-1990s in refrigerator production, means that the manufacturing sector continues to grow. However, there has been some domestic unrest caused by low wages.

Mining has fallen in importance since the 1960s, contributing only about 1 percent of the GDP in 1997-98. High-grade iron ore was exhausted by 1978, and health concerns have reduced the world demand for asbestos. Asbestos mining (by a joint venture between the government and a South African Company, HVL Asbestos) is nevertheless the principal mining activity. Production was 27,700 tons in 1998, and most of this was exported. Deposits are mainly in the High-Veld.

The diamond mine at Dvokolwako closed at the end of 1996. A new coal mine at Maloma in the south of the country opened in 1993 which produces mainly anthracite for export to Europe (203,100 tons in 1997 and 410,000 tons in 1998). It replaced the now closed Mpaka Mine as the main source of coal. Stone is quarried at 3 centers, and production is increasing. Local construction and roads industries take all stone production.


The services sector is very significant to the Swazi economy, comprising 44 percent of the GDP in 2000, up from 37 percent in 1994. Government services accounted for 20 percent of the GDP in 1996-97, and amounted for the majority of services production. Private sector services were dominated by tourism giant, Swazi Spa Holdings (a subsidiary of Sun International, a South African Hotel group). Tourism is mostly on a package-tour basis, and most visitors come from South Africa. The attractions are wildlife, splendid scenery, and casino facilities. Tourist arrivals numbered 322,000 in 1997, generating receipts of about US$7 million.


With a small economy, Swaziland does not have enough domestic demand to provide a basis for a wide range of production. Therefore, it must import a variety of goods. Imports typically outweigh exports, as they did in 2000 when imports were valued at US$928 million and exports at US$881 million.

The country's main exports are soft drink concentrate, sugar, citrus, canned fruit, textiles, wood pulp and refrigerators; the main imports are manufactured consumer goods , machinery, transport equipment, food, chemicals, and fuels. South Africa was far and away the dominant trading partner, taking 65 percent of exports and providing 84 percent of imports in 1998. Other major export destinations were the European Union (EU) (12 percent), Mozambique (11 percent), and the United States (5 percent). Other major importers were the EU (5 percent), and Japan and Singapore (2 percent each).


The lilangeni is maintained at par with the South Africa rand, as it is in the de facto rand area involving Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. The rand was on par with the U.S. dollar in the early 1980s, but has since lost value, very rapidly at times in the latter 1990s. In mid-2001, the lilangeni stood at E8.27:US$1. In March 1995, a 2-tier financial system (which allowed a different exchange rate for certain transactions) was

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Swaziland
Exports Imports
1975 .199 .180
1980 .369 .623
1985 .180 .324
1990 .557 .663
1995 .957 1.105
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.
Exchange rates: Swaziland
emalangeni (E) per US$1
Jan 2001 7.7803
2000 6.9056
1999 6.1087
1998 5.4807
1997 4.6032
1996 4.2706
Note: The Swazi lilangeni is at par with the South African rand; emalangeniis the plural form of lilangeni.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

ended with the abolition of the financial rand, making the currency more vulnerable to international reaction to political developments in South Africa.


Swaziland is a lower middle-income country, with a GDP per capita in 2000 of US$4,000 using the purchasing power parity conversion factor (which makes allowance for the low price of certain basic commodities in Swaziland). There are no figures for the incidence of poverty, but the number of under-weight children would suggest around 14 percent below the dollar-a-day poverty line. Most of those in poverty obtain their livelihoods from the agriculture sector, and they do not have enough income to provide the barest minimums of food, clothing, and shelter. Income is very unequally distributed, with the poorest 20 percent receiving 2.7 percent of total income in 1998, and the richest 20 percent receiving 64 percent. The poorest groups in the rural areas live in traditional dwellings with timber frames and mud walls, thatched roofing, and a beaten earth or polished cow dung floor. Water comes from a well, sanitation is by pit latrine, cooking is done over a wood fire, and lighting comes from a kerosene lamp.

The poor in the urban areas live in shanty dwellings constructed from timber, plastic sheeting, cardboard and

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Swaziland 1,073 1,046 1,035 1,446 1,409
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
South Africa 4,574 4,620 4,229 4,113 3,918
Lesotho 220 311 295 370 486
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Swaziland
Lowest 10% 1.0
Lowest 20% 2.7
Second 20% 5.8
Third 20% 10.0
Fourth 20% 17.1
Highest 20% 64.4
Highest 10% 50.2
Survey year: 1994
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

rusty scrap metal sheets. Water is obtained from a communal tap, sanitation is by pit latrine, cooking is done over charcoal, and kerosene lamps provide light. The wealthier groups live in modern houses with cement block walls and tin roofs, with electricity, piped water, and either a sewage system or a septic tank.

The UN's Human Development Index, which combines measures of income, health, and education, put Swaziland at 112 out of 174 countries in 1998, and this placed it in the medium human development category, one of the few African countries to achieve this status. Thus Swaziland has a level of development with relatively few of its population in poverty (more than 50 percent are in poverty in some countries), and has good basic education provisions, with 95 percent of children in primary school and 85 percent in secondary school, and sound health facilities which allow a life expectancy of 60 years (in the rest of Africa it is 49 years).


In 1997, about 113,000 people were employed in Swaziland: 57 percent in the private sector, 28 percent in the public sector , and 15 percent in the informal sector . An additional 13,000 Swazis worked as miners in South Africa. About 22 percent of the labor force is recorded as unemployed. However, the unemployment rate has little meaning in Africa, for it relates to those registering as looking for jobs in the urban areas as a percentage of the formal labor force. The largest part of the labor force in Swaziland, 60 percent, is in the agricultural sector, much of it in small-scale family farms outside the formal sector.

With no social security provisions, those without work or support from families or charities cannot survive. For much of the year in subsistence farming there is relatively little work to do, and what work there is is shared among the family members. During planting and harvesting, there is more work to be done, and everyone is more fully occupied, but even in these periods, there may be more than enough labor to do the tasks, and the work is again shared. Everyone sharing the work appears to have an occupation in agriculture, but in fact workers are not engaged full time for all the year, and hence there is some disguised unemployment.

There is a Federation of Trade Unions in Swaziland. Minimum wage levels are set, but the level is low, particularly for female agricultural workers, to avoid creating unemployment.


1867. Swaziland formally becomes a British protectorate.

1961. The Union of South Africa breaks relations with Britain and toughens racial segregation policies (known as apartheid). Britain accelerates the decolonization process in the region, and Swaziland is granted internal autonomy.

1868. Swaziland gains independence from Britain. King Sobhuza II is recognized as head of state and governs with 2 legislative chambers.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Swaziland 25 7 9 6 13 8 32
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
South Africa N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Lesotho N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

1972. Swaziland holds its first parliamentary elections; the traditionalist Imbokodvo National Movement wins.

1973. King Sobhuza II declares the constitution un-workable, dissolves parliament, and prohibits political parties and trade unions. The Royal Defence Forces are reactivated.

1977. Elections to Parliament are held under the local council system.

1982. King Sobhuza II dies. The powers of head of state are transferred to Queen Mother Dzeliwe, who is named regent. In a power struggle, traditionalists gain the upper hand.

1983. Prime Minister Prince Mabandla Dlamini, head of the liberal faction, is dismissed and replaced by conservative Prince Bhekimpi Dlamini. The Queen Regent is presented with document transferring most of her power to the Liqoqo, a traditional advisory body. On her refusal to sign, she is ousted in favor of Ntombi, mother of the heir apparent, Prince Makhosetive. Ntombi is installed as Regent, and power rests with the Liqoqo.

1986. Prince Makhosetive is installed as King Mswati III at the age of 18, and the Liqoqo is abolished.

1987. King Mswati III dissolves parliament in September, 1 year early. In November, elections are held and a new cabinet is appointed.

1992. In February the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) declares itself an opposition party, which is illegal.

1993. More than 50 opposition activists are arrested, including leaders of PUDEMO and the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO). The local council system of indirect elections ends, and direct elections are held.

1996. PUDEMO announce plans for a campaign of protests and civil disobedience following the govern-ment's failure to respond to demands for the installation of a multi-party system and for the adoption of a constitution that would restrict the monarch to symbolic role in government.

1997. In mid-October the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) calls for countrywide strikes in support of demands for democratic reform after talks with the government fail to produce any agreement. Support for strikes is low as a result of the limited success of earlier strikes.


The Swaziland economy will for the foreseeable future continue to be heavily reliant on the South African economy as well as regional economic organizations such as the Southern African Customs Union and the Southern African Development Cooperation. Its small size and landlocked location make any changes in economic partnerships difficult to envisage. Even with greater regional integration, the dependence on South Africa will continue as South Africa has the largest manufacturing sector in southern Africa, as well as sophisticated financial expertise, and the ability to provide effective management for its investments in neighboring states.

Nevertheless, to exploit the benefits of regional integration and maintain economic stability, Swaziland is being pressured to speed-up its privatization program, upgrade infrastructure , and improve the regulation of the financial sector. The political maneuverings have to date been seen as having little effect on the economy. However, there is no doubt that Swaziland will receive more aid and international cooperation if the awaited constitutional review recommends a bill of rights, the introduction of a multiparty democratic system, and the reversion of the king to the role of constitutional monarch.


Swaziland has no territories or colonies.


Commonwealth Secretariat. "Swaziland." The Commonwealth Yearbook 2000. Birmingham, UK: Stationery Office, 2000.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Swaziland. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Hodd, Michael. "Swaziland." The Economies of Africa. Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1991.

Swaziland. <>.Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Swaziland, August 2000. <>. Accessed September 2001.

Allan C. K. Mukungu


Mbabane (administrative and judicial) and Lobamba (royal and parliamentary).


The lilangeni (E); the plural is emalangeni. One lilangeni equals 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, and 1 lilangeni, and notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 emalangeni. The lilangeni is on par with the South African rand, which is also accepted as legal tender in the country.


Sugar, citrus, canned fruit, soft drink concentrates, textiles, wood pulp, cotton yarn, refrigerators.


Manufactured goods, machinery, transport equipment, food, chemicals, fuels.


US$4.44 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$881 million (f.o.b., 2000). Imports: US$928 million (f.o.b., 2000).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of Swaziland
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 1,083,289
Language(s): English,siSwati
Literacy rate: 67%

Background General Characteristics

Swaziland is landlocked and almost surrounded by South Africa, with Mozambique to the east. Swaziland's press industry may be characterized as small, struggling, and mostly dominated by the governmenta monarchy led by King Mswati III, who has been enthroned since 1986. The press's growth and size are inhibited by Swaziland's weak infrastructure with a predominantly rural population of about 1 million. Low per-capita income renders purchasing newspapers, radios, televisions and the Internet unaffordable luxuries to most residents. The situation is compounded by the devastation the HIV/ AIDS prevalence of 25 percent in adults, which is threatening life expectancy, population size and socioeconomic productivity.

Swaziland, a dual absolute monarchy, attained independence in 1969 after seven decades as a British protectorate. Enforcing the power of the throne the king suspended the constitution in 1973. Ruling by decree, suppressing freedom of expression and association, the regime historically has precipitated unrest and opposition from progressives. This has taken the form of demonstrations and strikes promoting universal suffrage and modern democracy. Consequently, the government established a Constitutional Commission to develop a new constitution but the government's delaying tactics, censorship and harassment of the media, police and security forces' brutality, arrests, and detentions without trial that have been leveled against critics of the monarchy leave the country without a constitution.

Economically, landlocked Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa, its major trading partner. The economy is based on subsistence agriculture (involving around 60 percent of the population) contributing around 25 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP). Manufacturing also accounts for about 25 percent of GDP. Mining has declined in importance in recent years. Exports of sugar and forestry products are the main earners of hard currency. Swaziland's economy is vulnerable to international price fluctuations of its exports, unfavorable cyclic weather conditions and record-high trade deficits.

The press generally is based in Mbabane, the capital city. There is only one daily, the Times of Swaziland with a weekly subsidiary, Swazi News, both state-owned. The Swazi Observer group of papers is made up of the Daily Observer, Weekend Observer and Istantsell. The Nation is a monthly independent newsmagazine. Publishers for periodicals, journals and books include: Tikhatsi Temaswati; Apollo Services (Pty) Ltd; BGS Printing and Publishing (Pty) Ltd; Jubilee Printers; Longman Swaziland (Pty) Ltd; Macmillan Boleswa Publishers (Pty) Ltd; Swaziland Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd.; and Whydah Media Publishers Ltd.

State-Press Relations

The suspended constitution vests supreme legislative and executive power in the head of state who is the hereditary king, and provides for a bicameral legislature consisting of the Senate and the House of Assembly. The king's role is primarily advisory. In the absence of a new constitution delineating press laws, monarch's rule by a 1973 decree is the governing principle. In 1999 anti-defamation legislation was passed requiring government licensing of all journalists and threatening reporters with criminal penalties for publishing so-called "inaccurate stories." According to the colonial era Books and Publication's Act, the 1968 Proscribed Publications Act reintroduced under the king's Decree No. 3 of July 23, 2001, the state can ban any publication with neither explanation nor legal proceedings. The most recent Internal Security Bill legislation muzzles free press. This is in contrast with media freedom and the freedom of expression found in the pending constitution's Bill of Rights the Swaziland's Constitutional Review Commission is expected to finalize by the end of 2002. King Mswati III's most recent public statements also uphold freedom of press, but are seemingly confined to issues related to the HIV/AIDS pandemic's publicity.

Government censorship of free press shows a trail of heavy-handed treatment of the press viewed as critical of the monarchy. This is illustrated by various bans on newspapers and attacks on journalists reporting on the government's ill-treatment of political opponents, including newspaper editors and media critical of the monarchy. Further, state monopoly in media ownership of major newspapers, and local television and radio stations, is intended to censor information. Thus, freedom of expression is seriously compromised when editors and journalists of independent and government-controlled media such as the Times of Swaziland (intermittently published since 1897), The Nation, and The Guardian of Swaziland have been temporarily banned. Some have resumed production only after court battles. The Swazi Observer, owned by a national trust and controlled by the king, was closed abruptly in February 2000 for allegedly revealing power squabbles within the government, resuming publication in January 2001.

State-press relations are rampant with the king's allegations of the press inciting disloyalty, and degrading or undermining the monarchy through negative reporting. Many journalists have referred to Swaziland's treatment of journalists as reminiscent of the way the defunct apart-heid South Africa government repressed the press. Reporters and journalists have experienced various forms of police brutality, intimidation, killings, retrenchment, arrests, defamation, beatings, destruction of equipment, accusations of being disrespectful to the monarchy, and as being instigators of political turmoil.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

Government attitude toward foreign media is beset with distrust and accusations of foreign media personnel as conspirators and infiltrators inciting instability to destabilize the monarchy. International and local journalists who freelance for international press organizations and who criticize the monarchy for muzzling the press have been harassed, with some being deported.

Broadcast Media

The Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service, broadcasting in English and Siswazi, and the only television stationwith seven hours of daily programming in Englishare both state-owned and under the Ministry of Information. The Swaziland Commercial Radio (Pty) Ltd South Africa-based commercial service to southern Africa broadcasts religious programs and music in English and Portuguese. Trans World Radio is a religious broadcast using five transmitters to broadcast in 30 languages to southern, east and central Africa and to the Far East.

Electronic Media

A privileged few urbanites have access to electronic news media through the Internet, fax, posts, telecommunications and a mobile cellular phone network. Swaziland's posts and telecommunications network was completely automated in 1996, with digitalization in 1998 and optical fiber systems in key areas to increase trunk network capacity and efficiency. Several online news sites cover Swaziland, such as Swaziland Today and Xinhau News.

Education Training

Swaziland's journalists and broadcasters have a variety of training background experiences with some being trained locally, and others in South Africa or other African nations and overseas. English, the language used in business, and Siswati are the official languages. Around 67 percent of the population over age 15 is literate. The only university, the University of Swaziland with more than 3,000 students, recently established an Institute of Distance Education.


The monarch's tiny media press industry continues to face formidable problems. History clearly shows the king's relentless efforts to prevent freedom of the press under a pretext alleging that differing views and political parties are alien and divisive practices incompatible with Swazi culture. Recent disturbances, upheavals, strikes, and human rights concernswhich have led to the regional and international involvement of several organizations, including Amnesty Internationalindicate that freedom of media, expression and information are the cornerstone of democracy and fundamental human rights.


Gamble, Paul. "Swaziland." In Economist Intelligence Unit Country Profile: Botswana and Lesoto (May 2002): 65-90.

"House Endorses Heavy Fines on Journalists." Media Institute of Southern Africa, November 7, 2001. Available from

Maher, Joanne. "Swaziland." In The Europa World Year Book. London: Europa Publications, 2, 2453-2465.

Nhleko, Timothy. "Newspaper Group Closes Down." Africa News Service, February 18, 2000.

"Press and Police at Loggerheads." Media Institute of Southern Africa, November 4, 2001. Available from

Smith, Ron Baxter. "Journalist Hauled Before Police Following Article." Africa News Service, January 17,2000. Available from

"State Police Warns Journalists to Stop Writing Negatively." Media Institute of Southern Africa, November 7, 2001. Available from

"Swaziland." Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In The World Factbook 2001. Available from

Titus, Zoe. "Internal Security Bill Before Parliament by end of Month." Media Institute of Southern Africa, June 6, 2002. Available from

World Bank, World Development Indicators. Washington, DC, 2002.

Saliwe M. Kawewe, Ph.D.

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Swaziland (swä´zēlănd), officially Kingdom of Swaziland, kingdom (2005 est. pop. 1,174,000), 6,705 sq mi (17,366 sq km), SE Africa. It is bordered on the S, W, and N by the Republic of South Africa and on the E by Mozambique. The capital and largest city is Mbabane.

Land and People

The country is mountainous, with steplike plateaus descending from the highveld (3,500–5,000 ft/1,067–1,524 m) in the W through the middleveld (1,500–3,000 ft/457–914 m) and the lowveld (500–1,500 ft/152–457 m), then rising to the rolling plateau of the Lebombo Mts. Swaziland is cut by four major river systems, which have vast hydroelectric potential and are increasingly used for irrigation.

The population is about 97% African and 3% European. English and Siswati (a branch of Nguni) are the official languages. About 40% of the population is Zionist Christian (a blend of Christianity and indigenous beliefs), while 20% are Roman Catholic; there are other Christian (Anglican, Methodist, and Mormon) groups, as well as Muslim, Bahai, and Jewish minorities.


Swaziland has excellent farming and ranching land, and 80% of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture. Sugarcane is grown on plantations, mainly for export. Other important crops are cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus fruits, pineapples, sorghum, and peanuts. Cattle and goats are raised in large numbers. The Swazi engage primarily in subsistence farming on communally owned land that is allocated by chiefs. The pine and eucalyptus forests of the highveld yield timber and wood pulp. The country has several nature reserves, and tourism is being developed.

Coal mining and stone quarrying are important; Swaziland's other mineral resources include asbestos, clay, cassiterite (tin ore), gold, and diamonds. Industry consists chiefly of food processing and the manufacture of soft drink concentrates, textiles, and consumer goods. Many Swazis are employed in South Africa's mines and industries. Railroads connect with ports in South Africa, the country's main trading partner, and with Mozambique. The country's chief exports are soft drink concentrates, sugar, wood pulp, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus, and canned fruit. Imports include motor vehicles, machinery, transportation equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, and chemicals. A major portion of the government's income consists of revenues from the Southern African Customs Union.


Swaziland is a hereditary monarchy governed under the constitution of 2005. The monarch is the head of state. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the monarch. There is a bicameral Parliament (Libandla). The Senate has 30 members, 10 appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 by the monarch. Of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, 10 are appointed by the monarch and 55 are elected by popular vote. Members of both houses serve five-year terms. Administratively, Swaziland is divided into four districts.


The ancestors of the Swazi probably moved into the Mozambique area from the north prior to the 16th cent. Fleeing Zulu attacks in the early 19th cent., they settled in present-day Swaziland. During the 1800s, Europeans entered the area to seek concessions, and in 1894, Swaziland became a protectorate of the Transvaal. In 1906, Swaziland became a High Commission Territory ruled by a British commissioner. Limited self-government was not granted until 1963, and four years later Swaziland became a kingdom under a new constitution. On Sept. 6, 1968, Swaziland achieved complete independence but retained membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. The king became the head of state, administering through a cabinet and a prime minister chosen by parliament.

In 1973, King Sobhuza II (reigned 1921–82) abrogated the constitution and assumed personal rule. The Swazi people continued to find a common cause in resistance to incorporation into South Africa, which was favored by the country's Afrikaner minority. The original constitution was formally abolished in 1976. A new constitution was adopted in 1978, but it so diluted the vote that the king ruled nearly absolutely.

In 1982, South Africa and Swaziland formally agreed to defend each other's security interests, with Swaziland promising to deport African National Congress (ANC) members back to South Africa. After 61 years as monarch, Sobhuza died and Prince Makhosetive Dlamini was selected as his successor in 1982; he was crowned King Mswati III in 1986. The late 1980s were marked by periodic raids by South African troops searching for ANC dissidents operating from Swaziland.

In 1992, severe drought conditions put Swaziland in danger of famine. During the 1990s a series of protest actions by prodemocracy dissidents put increasing pressure on the king. The country's first parliamentary elections were held in 1993 (and have been held every five years since then), but candidates for the lower house have to be nonpartisan and are nominated by local councils (the upper house is largely appointed by the king).

The early 21st cent. has seen increased pressure from opposition groups for limitation of the powers of the king, who has been criticized for abuse of power and personal indulgence, and for establishment of a democratically elected parliament, but the king has steadfastly resisted making any significant changes. A new constitution that the king approved in July, 2005, did not diminish the king's ultimate hold on power. The same month the African Union's human rights commission criticized Swaziland for failing to conform with the African Charter and gave the government six months to rectify the situation.

The country suffered severe crop losses in 2007 due to drought; an estimated 400,000 were expected to need food assistance before the next harvest (in 2008). Before elections for Swaziland's parliament were held in Sept., 2008, prodemocracy forces mounted protests to little effect, despite negative publicity generated by the extravagant lifestyle of the king and his family. A recession-related drop in Southern African customs revenues in 2010 led to a government financial crisis late that year and continuing into subsequent years. The government sought a sizable loan from South Africa, but did not want to agree to the reform conditions attached to the loan; the king's income was unaffected by the crisis.


See C. P. Potholm, Swaziland: The Dynamics of Political Modernization (1972); B. Nyeko, Swaziland (1982); A. Booth, Swaziland (1984).

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Official name: Kingdom of Swaziland

Area: 17,363 square kilometers (6,704 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Emlembe (1,862 meters/6,109 feet)

Lowest point on land: Great Usutu River (21 meters/69 feet)

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 176 kilometers (109 miles) from north to south; 135 kilometers (84 miles) from east to west

Land boundaries: 535 kilometers (332 miles) total boundary length; Mozambique 105 kilometers (65 miles); South Africa 430 kilometers (267 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None


Swaziland is located in southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa. It is slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey.


Swaziland has no territories or dependencies.


Temperatures vary from as low as -3°C (27°F) in the highlands during winter to 42°C (108°F) in the low veld during summer. Temperatures rise and the climate warms as the altitude drops. In Mbabane the average temperature ranges from 6 to 17°C (43 to 66°F) in June to 15 to 25°C (59 to 77°F) in January.

The high veld region has a humid temperate climate and receives 140 centimeters (55 inches) of rain annually. The Lebombo plain and middle veld are warmer and drier and receive only about 85 centimeters (33 inches) of precipitation per year. The nearly tropical low veld receives an average of 60 centimeters (24 inches) of rain annually. The wettest period of the year is from October to March when violent rainstorms may occur.


Landlocked Swaziland is located in southern Africa, nearly surrounded by South Africa. It is part of the South African Plateau and is divided into four well-defined regions from west to east. In the far west, the high veld (1,050 to 1,200 meters/3,500 to 3,900 feet) descends eastward through the middle veld (450 to 600 meters/1,475 to 1,970 feet) to the low veld (150 to 300 meters/490 to 980 feet). To the east of the low veld is the Lebombo Range (450 to 825 meters/1,475 to 2,700 feet), mountains that separate the country from the Mozambique coastal plain.


Swaziland is a landlocked nation.


There are no significant lakes within Swaziland.


Swaziland is well watered, with four large rivers flowing eastward across it into the Indian Ocean. These are the Komati (source in South Africa) and the Mbuluzi (or Umbeluzi) Rivers in the north, the Great Usutu (or Lusutfu) River (source in South Africa) in the center, and the Ngwavuma River in the south.

Swaziland's highest waterfall, Malolotja Falls (about 1,000 meters/3,280 feet high), is found in the Malolotja Nature Reserve about 19 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Mbabane. This reserve, at almost 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) in elevation, has more than twenty waterfalls as the Malolotja River flows down from the highest elevations to join the Komati River at about 900 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level.


There are no significant desert regions in Swaziland.


Swaziland is covered almost entirely by grasslands, savannah, and mixed scrub. Swaziland's high veld has the largest man-made forests of conifers and eucalyptus in Africa.

The Valley of Heaven (Ezulwini Valley) is found between the cities of Mbabane and Manzini and is covered in lush green grasslands. Hilly regions support coniferous trees.


On the west side of the country is the high veld, which rises to 1,850 meters (6,070 feet). Mount Emlembe is located on the northwestern border with South Africa. In the east, the Lebombo Mountains offer an undulating plateau rising high above the Lebombo Plain from a striking escarpment.


Swaziland suffers from soil erosion and destruction. The country has four protected areas for wildlife, totaling 40,045 hectares (98,953 acres).


Lion's Cavern, which contains an ancient mine, is found in the northwest of the country. A canyon in the Hhohho province in the north is the location of a dam on the Komati River.


Swaziland occupies the eastern edge of the South African plateau where it breaks apart and drops to the Mozambique coastal plain on the Indian Ocean.


In April 2002, the Maguga Dam was officially opened. Situated along the Komati River in the north, the dam will provide hydroelectric power to both Swaziland and neighboring South Africa.



Blauer, Ettagale, and Jason Lauré. Swaziland. New York: Children's Press, 1996.

Gills, D.H. The Kingdom of Swaziland. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999.

Murray, John. South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. London: Lonely Planet, 2000.

Web Sites

The Official Swaziland Tourism Site. (accessed May 6, 2003)

The Swaziland Government Home Page. (accessed May 6, 2003)

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"Swaziland." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . 11 Dec. 2017 <>.

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17,360sq km (6703 sq mi)



capital (population):

Mbabane (67,200)



ethnic groups:

Swazi 84%, Zulu 10%, Tsonga 2%


Siswati and English (both official)


Protestant 37%, African Churches 29%, Roman Catholic 11%, traditional beliefs 21%


Lilangeni = 100 cents

Small, landlocked, and mountainous kingdom in s Africa, bounded by South Africa (n, w, s) and Mozambique (e); the capital is Mbabane.

Land and Climate

Swaziland can be divided into four regions. In the w the Highveld, with an average height of 1200m (3950ft), makes up 30% of Swaziland. The Middleveld, 350–1000m (1150–3300ft), covers 28% of the country, while the Lowveld, with an average height of 270m (890ft), covers another 33%. The Lebombo Mountains, the fourth region, reach 800m (2600ft) along the e border. The Lowveld is almost tropical, with an average temperature of 22°C (72°F) and a low rainfall of c.500mm (20in) a year. The altitude moderates the climate in the w, and Mbabane has a climate typical of the Highveld with warm summers and cool winters.


Meadows and pasture cover c.65% of Swaziland. Arable land covers 8% of the land, and forests only 6%.

History and Politics

In the 18th century, according to tradition, a group of Bantu-speaking people, under the Swazi Chief Ngwane II, crossed the Lebombo range and united with local African groups to form the Swazi nation. In the 1840s, under attack from the Zulu, the Swazi sought British protection. Gold was discovered in the 1880s, and many Europeans sought land concessions from the King, who did not realize that in acceding to their demands he lost control of the land. In 1894, Britain and the Boers of South Africa agreed to put Swaziland under the control of the South African Republic (the Transvaal). Britain took control of the country at the end of the second South African War (1899–1902). In 1968, Swaziland became an independent constitutional monarchy, with King Sobhuza II as head of state. In 1973, Sobhuza suspended the constitution and assumed supreme power. In 1978, he banned all political parties. In 1982, Sobhuza died and his son, Makhosetive, was named heir. In 1986, he was installed as King Mswati III. In the early 1990s, pro-democracy demonstrations forced Mswati to reconsider the ban on political parties. Parliamentary elections were held in 1993 and 1998, but were non-party and not considered democratic.


Swaziland is a lower-middle-income developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$4000). Agriculture employs 74% of the workforce, mostly at subsistence level. Farm products and processed foods, including sugar, wood pulp, citrus fruits and canned fruit, are the leading exports. Mining declined in importance in recent years. Swaziland exhausted its high-grade iron ore reserves in 1978, while the world demand for its asbestos fell. Swaziland depends heavily on South Africa, and the two nations are linked through a customs union.

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name


Alternative Names

Swati, abakwaNgwane


Identification. The Swazi nation is named for Mswati II, who became king in 1839. The royal lineage can be traced to a chief named Dlamini; this is still the royal clan name. About three-quarters of the clan groups are Nguni; the remainder are Sotho and Tsonga. These groups have intermarried freely. There are slight differences among Swazi groups, but Swazi identity extends to all those with allegiance to the twin monarchs Ngwenyama "the Lion" (the king) and Ndlovukati "the She-Elephant" (the queen mother).

Location and Geography. Swaziland, in southern Africa between Mozambique and South Africa, is a landlocked country of 6,074 square miles (17,360 square kilometers). The terrain is mostly mountainous with moderately sloping plains. The legislative capital is Lobamba, one of the traditional royal seats. The administrative capital is the nearby city of Mbabane. Manzini is the business hub.

Demography. The population in 2000 is about 980,000. A small European population (about 3 percent) sometimes is called "White Swazi."

Linguistic Affiliation. The official languages are siSwati and English. SiSwati, a Southern Bantu language, is a member of the Nguni subgroup.

Symbolism. The primary national symbol is the monarchy. King Sobhuza II (died 1982) oversaw the transition from colony to protectorate to independent country. The symbolic relationship between the king and his people is evident at the incwala, the most sacred ceremony, which may not be held when there is no king. The full ritual, which takes several weeks, symbolizes the acceptance of traditional rulers, the unity of the state, the agricultural cycle, fertility, and potency.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The Nguni clans, which originated in East Africa in the fifteenth century, moved into southern Mozambique and then into present-day Swaziland; the term abakwaNgwane ("Ngwane's people") is still used as an alternative to emaSwati . Sobhuza I ruled during a period of chaos, resulting from the expansion of the Zulu state under Shaka. Under Sobhuza's leadership, the Nguni and Sotho peoples as well as remnant San groups were integrated into the Swazi nation. "Swazi" eventually was applied to all the peoples who gave allegiance to the Ngwenyama.

National Identity. In the late 1830s, initial contact occurred among the Swazi, the Boers, and the British. A substantial portion of Swazi territory was ceded to the Transvaal Boers, the first of many concessions to European interests. The Pretoria Convention for the Settlement of the Transvaal in 1881 recognized the independence of Swaziland and defined its boundaries. The Ngwenyama was not a signatory, and the Swazi claim that their territory extends in all directions from the present state. More than a million ethnic Swazi reside in South Africa. Britain claimed authority over Swaziland in 1903, and independence was achieved in 1968.

Ethnic Relations. Relations among the Swazi peoples have generally been peaceful. Relations with Europeans historically were strained as a result of land concessions and tension caused by the administrative domination of Great Britain.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

The predominant home style is the Nguni "bee-hive" hut, in which a rounded frame made of poles is covered with thatch bound with plaited ropes. Sotho huts, which have pointed, detachable roofs on walls of mud and wattle, are found throughout the country; these huts have window frames and full doorways. Both types can be found within a single homestead, which may also include European architectural styles. Traditional homestead organization follows the "central cattle pattern." In the center of the homestead is an unroofed, fenced cattle pen, the sibaya, from which women are barred. Residential huts are grouped around the western side. The "great hut," indlunkulu is used as the family shrine, dedicated to the senior patrilineal ancestors. Other huts are occupied by individual wives.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The traditional food supply fluctuated seasonally. Between winter and the new crops of summer, shortages were common. Maize and millet were the main staples. Dairy products, especially soured milk, were reserved for children. Cattle were slaughtered mainly for ritual purposes, and meat was in short supply. Leafy vegetables, roots, and fruits completed the traditional diet. The introduction of supermarkets means that meat and other products are available throughout the year. The Swazi typically observed a fish taboo, along with a taboo on egg consumption for females and a dairy taboo for wives. There were also clan-specific food taboos on particular birds and wild animals.

Basic Economy. Subsistence agriculture is engaged in by more than half the population. Manufacturing includes a number of agroprocessing factories. Exports of soft drink concentrate, sugar, and wood pulp are sources of hard currency; most of these products go to South Africa. High-grade iron ore deposits were depleted in the 1970s and the demand for asbestos has fallen. Badly overgrazed pasture-land, soil depletion, and drought are persistent problems. Swaziland has an unemployment rate of 22 percent.

Land Tenure and Property. All land was owned and allocated by the king through chiefs and headmen. Land not allocated to individuals remained under the control of the political authority and was reserved for common use, such as for firewood, reed collection, and hunting. Vast tracts of land that were under foreign control at independence have been purchased "for the nation." Sons can inherit from their male kin.

Commercial Activities. The major agricultural products are sugarcane, cotton, maize, tobacco, rice, citrus fruits, pineapples, corn, sorghum, and peanuts.

Trade. Soft drink concentrates, sugar, wood pulp, and cotton yarn are the major export commodities. Most exports go to South Africa, and 20 percent are sent to the European Union. Motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, and chemicals are imported, mostly from South Africa.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. There is a sharp social division between rural and urban residents, reflecting the growth of the middle class. Clans are ranked by their relationship to the king and heads of state. The Nkosi Dlamini clan, the royal clan, is the highest, followed by clans traditionally described as "Bearers of Kings" (clans that have provided queen mothers). Among co-wives, the ranking wife is usually determined by clan memberships rather than by order of marriage. Interclan contact is free.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Apart from dress, knowledge of English is the main marker of education and status.

Political Life

Government. The government is a monarchy, with the Ngwenyama functioning as the head of state. The prime minister is appointed by the king. The "Westminster Constitution" of 1968 was suspended by royal decree in 1973. A new constitution was written in 1978 but has not been ratified. A bicameral parliament with a Senate and a House of Assembly has only advisory functions. The judiciary includes a high court and a court of appeals whose judges are appointed. As a result of growing pressure from student and labor groups in late 2000, King Mswati III has promised to introduce democratic reforms.

Leadership and Political Officials. Political parties are illegal, though some operate domestically and in exile. The most important is the People's United Democratic Movement, which calls for a peaceful transition to democracy and abandonment of the advisory system.

Social Problems and Control. The legal system is based on South African law in statutory courts and Swazi traditional law and custom in traditional courts.

Military Activity. The separation of the armed forces and the police is a modern distinction. Traditionally, both functions were performed by regiments in which every man was required to serve. The Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force and the Royal Swaziland Police are under civilian control.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. The queen mother serves as a check on the power of the king. In part, the selection of the royal heir is a selection of the next king's mother. Traditionally, men and women cooperated in the agricultural cycle, though only men were responsible for plowing. Women receive gardens from their husbands, but the cultivation of cash crops involves both men and women. Herding is exclusively a male domain. Cattle have important economic and symbolic value. Sex-based stratification characterizes the workforce, though a few women hold important civil service positions.

The Relative Status of Men and Women. The traditional culture was patriarchal. Within the homestead, the only females related by blood to the patriarch were minor children. Their economic value was measured in lobolo (brideprice), usually in the form of cattle. Sons are valued more highly than daughters. Human rights groups have cited legal and cultural discrimination against women and abuse of children as social problems.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriage is defined as the union of two families. Polygynous marriages were once common, but the spread of Christianity and economic considerations have made them much less common today. The production of children is seen as an essential part of the marriage contract. Marriage between members of the same clan is forbidden; this practice extends and maintains social ties. Subclans occasionally are created to facilitate marriage between members of the same clan. Divorce has increased as a result of urbanization. Since traditional marriage is governed by uncodified law and custom, women's rights are interpreted differently by different parties. Under civil law, a man is technically restricted to a single wife.

Domestic Unit. In rural areas, patrilocal residence traditionally was the norm, and a homestead would include the headman, his wives, unmarried siblings, and married sons with their wives and children. With the exception of minor children, all females within the homestead are considered "outsiders." Nuclear family residence is the norm in towns.

Inheritance. Only males can inherit. The heir usually is not appointed until the father's death. In traditional polygynous households, the main heir is rarely the oldest son. The rank of the mother, not the order of marriage, plays an important role in the selection of the main heir.

Kin Groups. The clan is the major kin group. Every Swazi bears the clan name of the father, which also serves as a surname. Women retain membership in their paternal clan, though it is common for wives to use the husband's clan name as a surname. Each clan contains a number of lineages.


Infant Care. Traditionally, infants were not recognized as "persons" until the third month of life. Before that age they were described as "things," had no names, and could not be touched by men. After the achievement of personhood, a child remained closely attached to the mother. It was carried in a sling on her back and fed upon demand. Weaning occurred between two and three years of age.

Child Rearing and Education. A child began to associate with peers at age three. The mother left the child in the care of other children. Discipline was introduced later. Young children "played house" and acted out adult kin roles. Today boys play with toy cars and motorbikes, and girls pretend to cook and groom each other's hair. The traditional training of boys and girls required them to be separated from about age six. Boys needed to be hardened for public life, and so they were socialized by older youths and took care of livestock. Girls had greater freedom of movement, though much of their time was spent in domestic chores.

Almost all children receive primary education today, although there is a significant dropout rate before age thirteen. Only about half the children of secondary school age attend school. Agricultural activities are a national priority, and relevant subjects are taught at many secondary schools.

Higher Education. Several institutions provide technical, commercial, and vocational training. About three thousand students are enrolled at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA), which has three campuses. UNISWA has established a program of distance learning. Students seeking a postgraduate education often enroll in South Africa.


Respect is due to one's elders. Traditionally, greeting all persons, including strangers, was a normal event; this is no longer the case in towns.


Religious Beliefs. Christianity is the predominant religion. In addition to the traditional Western forms, there are numerous syncretist churches, and indigenous beliefs about the supernatural, particularly regarding ancestors, are still important. Many people consult tinyanga (traditional healers), who employ natural medicine and ritual in their cures. There is a widespread belief in witchcraft and sorcery. "Muti (medicine) murders" in which persons are killed so that their body parts can be used for medicine are now uncommon.

Religious Practitioners. Traditional religion has no class of ordained priests. The senior male in each family maintains communication with the ancestors. Diviners known as tangoma are considered more powerful than healers and are often possessed by spirits. Traditional healers are typically male.

Rituals and Holy Places. The incwala is the major sacred ritual. Certain parts of the homestead are ritually protected; the royal burial sites in the southern mountains are considered sacred.

Death and the Afterlife. Swazi believe that the spirit of a person has a distinct existence. One's social place is demonstrated through the elaborateness of funeral rituals. A head of household is buried at the sibaya ; his widow shaves her head and undertakes a long period of mourning.

Medicine and Health Care

Western medical care is available throughout the country. Many individuals seek treatment from both Western and indigenous practitioners. There is an extensive AIDS education campaign.

Secular Celebrations

The king's birthday is celebrated on 19 April, National Flag Day on 25 April, and Independence Day (Somhlolo Day) on 6 September.

The Arts and Humanities

Literature. Oral literature continues to flourish, and there is a small body of written literature in siSwati.

State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Little advanced work is done in the sciences, although several scientists work at UNISWA, which has established a research center.


Booth, Alan R. Swaziland: Tradition and Change in a Southern African Kingdom, 1983.

De Vletter, Fion, ed. The Swazi Rural Homestead, 1983.

Hall, James. Sangoma: My Odyssey into the Spirit World of Africa, 1994.

Harrison, David. "Tradition, Modernity and Tourism in Swaziland." In David Harrison, ed., Tourism and the Less Developed Countries, 1992.

Kasenene, Peter. Religion in Swaziland, 1992.

Kuper, Hilda. An African Aristocracy: Rank among the Swazi, 1947.

. The Swazi: A South African Kingdom, 2nd ed., 1986.

Marwick, Brian A. The Swazi, 1940.

Matsebula, J. S. M. A History of Swaziland, 1987.

McFadden, Patricia. "The Condition of Women in Southern Africa: Challenges for the 1990s." Southern African Political and Economic Monthly 3 (10): 39, 1990.

Nyeko, Balam. Swaziland, 1994.

Rose, Laurel L. The Politics of Harmony: Land Dispute Strategies in Swaziland, 1992.

Simelane, Nomthetho G., ed. Social Transformation: The Swaziland Case, 1995.

Robert K. Herbert

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Swaziland. Former British high commission territory. In the 19th cent. the Bantu kingdom of Swaziland was under intermittent threat from Zulus, from would-be Boer (Afrikaner) settlers, and from British administrators in Natal. In 1906, along with Botswana and Lesotho it was placed under the jurisdiction of a British high commissioner. When the Union of South Africa was created in 1910 the three territories were excluded from its authority because of British qualms about the Union's racial policy, which subsequent events were to justify. Nevertheless, Swaziland relied heavily upon its economic contacts with South Africa, which were strengthened after the country became independent in 1968.

Kenneth Ingham

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SWAZILAND. A country in southern Africa, between South Africa and Mozambique, and a member of the COMMONWEALTH. Languages: Siswati or SiSwati (also known as Swazi, the Zulu form of the name) and English (both official). The Swazi occupied the territory in the early 19c, in competition with the Boers. Their autonomy was guaranteed by Britain, but the territory was administered by the Boer province of Transvaal until 1903, when it came under the British governor of Transvaal, then a province of the Union of South Africa. Independence was gained in 1968.

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The people of Swaziland are called Swazis. There are more than seventy clans, of which the Nkosi Dlaminithe royal clanis dominant. There are small groups of Europeans, Asians, and people of mixed race.

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Swazilandand, band, bland, brand, expand, firsthand, gland, grand, hand, land, manned, misunderstand, offhand, rand, righthand, Samarkand, sand, stand, strand, thirdhand, underhand, undermanned, understand, unplanned, untanned, withstand •graduand • hatband • armband •headband • neckband • sweatband •waistband • waveband • wristband •broadband • showband • noseband •saraband • backhand • chargehand •farmhand • deckhand • stagehand •freehand • millhand • behindhand •longhand •beforehand, forehand •shorthand • gangland • Lapland •flatland • no-man's-land • Saarland •farmland • grassland • marshland •fenland • wetland • Sudetenland •wasteland • dreamland • peatland •Matabeleland • Ngamiland •fairyland • Dixieland • Swaziland •Thailand • Rhineland • swampland •washland • homeland • Heligoland •Basutoland •clubland, scrubland •timberland • borderland •wonderland • Nagaland • Helgoland •Bechuanaland, Gondwanaland •Mashonaland • Damaraland •Nyasaland • platteland • hinterland •fatherland • motherland •Namaqualand • Öland • allemande •confirmand • ordinand • Ferdinand •Talleyrand • firebrand • Krugerrand •honorand • Witwatersrand •greensand • quicksand • analysand •Streisand • ampersand •bandstand, grandstand, handstand •hatstand • kickstand • inkstand •washstand • hallstand • news-stand

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