Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


(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 MbabaneMbabane
, town (1996 est. pop. 58,100), capital of Swaziland, NW Swaziland, in the Mdimba Mts. It is primarily an administrative center but serves as a commercial hub for the surrounding agricultural region. Tin and iron are mined nearby.
..... Click the link for more information.

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 TransvaalTransvaal
, former province, NE South Africa. With the new constitution of 1994, it was divided into Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga), Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo), Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Veereeniging (now Gauteng), and part of North West prov.
..... Click the link for more information.
. 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. Repression of the opposition continued, and opposition groups boycotted the 2013 parliamentary elections, although some proreform candidates participated.


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



(Kingdom of Swaziland), a country in Southern Africa, a member of the British Commonwealth. Swaziland borders on the Republic of South Africa and on Mozambique. Area, 17,400 sq km. Population, 480,000 (1974, estimate). The capital is the city of Mbabane. The country is divided into four administrative districts.

Government. Swaziland is a monarchy; the head of state is the king (ngwenyana). A constitution granted by the British government in 1968 remained in force until 1973. On Apr. 16, 1973, the king abolished the constitution and assumed full legislative and executive powers, which he exercises jointly with the cabinet of ministers. The traditional organs that retain an important role in Swaziland’s political system include the Liqoqo council, composed of the king, his mother, the oldest princes, and several chiefs (a total of 30 persons), and the Swazi National Council (Libandla), composed of all the members of the Liqoqo council and all chiefs, together with the chiefs’ advisers and the most prominent tribal elders.

Power on the local level is exercised by chiefs and councils subordinate to them. The two types of courts in the judicial system are the courts of written law and traditional courts, the latter having limited jurisdiction and trying cases on the basis of traditional law and custom.

Natural features. The surface of Swaziland is a plateau, descending in the east toward the coastal plain of Mozambique in three parallel belts. The belts, each of which is 20 to 70–80 km wide, are at different elevations. They are named the highveld (elevation, 1,500–1,000 m), the middle veld (800–400 m), and the lowveld (300–150 m). The lowveld is bordered on the east by the Lebombo Mountains (maximum elevation, 770 m). The country has deposits of asbestos, iron ore, and anthracite. The climate is transitional between subtropical and tropical; summers are humid. Average monthly temperatures vary from 12°–15°C to 20°–24°C. Annual precipitation ranges from 500–700 mm in the east to 1,200–1,400 mm and more in the west. The country’s rivers have many rapids and show a wide variation in flow rate; the valleys of many rivers are swampy. The flora in the western part of the country is typical of a savanna, with acacias and baobabs and, in places, parklands; pines have been planted in this part of the country. In the east, thickets of xerophytic shrubs predominate. The fauna is typical of the African savanna.

Population. Africans constitute 98 percent of the population. They speak the Bantu languages Siswati (more than 80 percent) and Zulu. The population also includes several thousand Europeans and Afrikaners. Siswati and English are the official languages. The majority of the population retain local traditional beliefs; the rest are Christians. The official calendar is the Gregorian calendar.

The natural growth rate of the population is 2.9 percent a year. The birthrate is 52.3 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the death rate 23.5 per 1,000. The population density is highest in the middle veld. Although peasants constitute the majority of the population, industrial development is creating a working class. Some of the Africans are exploited as workers on the farms of the Europeans or as laborers in South Africa. The principal cities are Mbabane (20,700 inhabitants in 1973), Havelock, Manzini, and Stegi.

Historical survey. In the early 19th century, the territory of what is now Swaziland was settled by Swazi tribes, who had been pushed out from the south by other tribes. Later, in the 1820’s and 1830’s, the Swazis fought bloody wars against the Zulus and other neighboring tribes who raided their territory. In the late 1830’s, the chief Mswati succeeded in creating a federation of Swazi clans over a territory almost three times the size of present-day Swaziland. In the early 1840’s, this territory became the object of aggressive designs on the part of European colonialists. The Boers were especially active, buying huge tracts of land for almost nothing from Mswati and his successors. Annexed by the Boer republic of Transvaal in 1894, Swaziland became a British possession after the Boer War of 1899–1902. In 1903 it was declared a British protectorate and given its present name. Most of the territory belonging to the Swazis was incorporated into the Union of South Africa; white settlers in the protectorate seized over 50 percent of the land.

The people of Swaziland struggled unceasingly against colonialism. In the 1920’s this struggle took the form of a campaign, led from 1921 by the paramount chief, Sobhuza II, for the return of the land seized by Europeans.

The first organizations in Swaziland to be led by the country’s black intelligentsia arose in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. These organizations sought an improvement in the conditions of the Africans within the framework of the colonial regime. The Swaziland Progressive Association, founded in 1929, strove to achieve greater opportunities for Swazis in education, trade, and public affairs. The country’s first newspaper, Izwi Lama Swazi, began publication in 1934.

The anticolonial movement experienced a new upsurge in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The Swaziland Progressive Party, formed in 1960 as a successor to the Progressive Association, advocated independence for the country. As a result of a party split in 1961, a new party, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, came into existence in 1962 and assumed the leadership of the liberation struggle.

The British colonialists were forced to grant concessions. A constitution introduced in 1963 provided for limited self-government. The first general elections to the Parliament were held in 1967; victory went to the Imbokodvo National Movement, a party founded in 1964 that reflected the interests of the clan and tribal elite. A new constitution, adopted in 1967, proclaimed Swaziland a constitutional monarchy; paramount chief Sobhuza II became king. In 1968, after protracted negotiations, the British government agreed to grant independence to Swaziland. Independence and independent status within the British Commonwealth were proclaimed on Sept. 6, 1968, and on Sept. 24, 1968, Swaziland was admitted to the United Nations.

In April 1974, Sobhuza II abrogated the constitution, disbanded Parliament, and outlawed political parties. Having concentrated all the power in his hands, Sobhuza governs the country jointly with the cabinet of ministers, which has been headed since 1976 by Colonel Mafevu Dlamini.

Swaziland’s foreign policy is to maintain economic and political ties with the Republic of South Africa and Great Britain, at the same time seeking to develop relations with the independent countries of Africa.

Economy. Economically an underdeveloped country, Swaziland is linked to the Republic of South Africa by currency and customs agreements. Agriculture and mining form the basis of the economy, and land cultivation is the occupation of most of the population. While there is an acute shortage of land, a considerable part of the land under cultivation is owned by immigrants from Europe, whose farms account for the greater part of the commodity output. The 1972 harvest of principal crops included 120,000 tons of maize, 8,000 tons of rice, 1,800,000 tons of sugarcane, and 69,000 tons of citrus fruits. Animal husbandry is of less importance; only in certain regions of the highveld is transhumant cattle raising a basic occupation. In 1972–73 there were 600,000 head of cattle, 260,000 goats, and 40,000 sheep. Since the trees in much of the natural forest have been felled, there is now tree farming, which occupies an area of 100,000 hectares.

Prior to independence, Swaziland had almost no industry; there was only one asbestos mine and a few manufacturing enterprises. Since independence mining and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing industries have developed. Asbestos is mined near Havelock (approximately 34,000 tons in 1972), iron ore on Bomvu Ridge (2.9 million tons in 1973), and anthracite in the vicinity of Stegi (approximately 143,000 tons in 1972). The country has woodworking plants, canneries, and sugar refineries (179,000 tons of sugar in 1974). Electric energy generated in 1972 totaled 107 million kilowatt-hours.

Swaziland’s only railroad is 221 km long and connects the country with the port of Lourenço Marques in Mozambique. There are 2,700 km of roads in the country (1971 estimate), most of which are unpaved.

In 1972, exports totaled 65.5 million rands, and imports 53.3 million rands. Swaziland exports asbestos, iron ore, lumber, sugar, and animal products and imports petroleum products and manufactured goods. The country’s principal trading partners are the Republic of South Africa, Great Britain, and Japan. Foreign tourism is developing. The monetary unit is the lilangeni, which as of December 1974 was 1 South African rand and US $1.45. L.N. RYTOV

Education and cultural affairs. Missionary schools appeared in the early 19th century. There is no compulsory education. There are seven years of primary education, and children begin school at age six. Instruction is in the native tongue in the lower grades and in English in the upper grades and in secondary school. Secondary education lasts five years, with three years in form 4 (equivalent to junior high school) and two years in form 5 (senior high school). In the 1973–74 academic year, there were 81,700 pupils in primary schools and 12,500 students in secondary schools. In that year the two teachers colleges in Manzini had an enrollment of approximately 340, and there were more than 600 students in vocational-technical schools. The city of Mbabane has a vocational training center, and there is also an industrial institute and an agricultural college. Until 1972 higher education could be obtained only at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in Roma, Lesotho. (Founded as a college in 1945, this school became a university in 1964.) In 1972 a campus of the university was set up in Swaziland in Luyengo. The campus has departments of science and agriculture and an enrollment of 276. The country’s central library is in Manzini (founded 1972), and there are public libraries in Mbabane, Manzini, and other cities.


Press and radio. The weekly newspaper Times of Swaziland (founded 1897; circulation, 8,900 [1974]) is published in Mbabane, as is the publication Umbiki (founded 1968; circulation, 5,000), a Siswati-language organ of the government information service published every two weeks.

A government radio service was set up in 1967, with the radio station located in Mbabane. Broadcasts are in Siswati and English.


Noveishaia istoriia Afriki. Moscow, 1968. Pages 540–51.
Kuper, H. The Swazi: A South African Kingdom. London, 1963.
Halpern, J. South Africa’s Hostages: Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland. London, 1965.
Stevens, R. Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland. London, 1967.


Official name: Kingdom of Swaziland

Capital city: Mbabane

Internet country code: .sz

Flag description: Three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in yellow; centered in the red band is a large black and white shield covering two spears and a staff decorated with feather tassels, all placed horizontally

Geographical description: Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa

Total area: 6,704 sq. mi. (17,363 sq. km.)

Climate: Varies from tropical to near temperate

Nationality: noun: Swazi(s); adjective: Swazi

Population: 1,133,066 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: African, overwhelmingly Swazi 97%, Euro­pean 3%

Languages spoken: English (official, government business conducted in English), siSwati (official)

Religions: Zionist 40% (a blend of Christianity and indige­nous ancestral worship), Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 10%, other (includes Anglican, Bahai, Methodist, Mor­mon, Jewish) 30%

Legal Holidays:

Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
King Father's BirthdayJul 22
King's BirthdayApr 19
National Flag DayApr 25
New Year's DayJan 1
Somhlolo DaySep 6
Workers' DayMay 1


a kingdom in southern Africa: made a protectorate of the Transvaal by Britain in 1894; gained independence in 1968; a member of the Commonwealth. Official languages: Swazi and English. Religion: Christian majority, traditional beliefs. Currency: lilangeni (plural emalangeni) and South African rand. Capital: Mbabane (administrative), Lobamba (legislative). Pop.: 1 083 000 (2004 est.). Area: 17 363 sq. km (6704 sq. miles)
References in periodicals archive ?
The building of the [United States] Embassy here in Swaziland was like building a home.
Swaziland and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
HRH Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini a graduate from Sydney University with a master's degree in digital communication is very active in promoting the soft image of the Kingdom of Swaziland in the world and recently her Special Envoy, Mr.
The 2012 payouts were particularly handsome for Swaziland because, as the SACU bloc's most impoverished member, it pockets not only its pool dividend of customs and excise receipts but also the lion's share of the development assistance component of the SACU's annual purse.
I've learned much about Swaziland and its challenges.
But in the small, conservative kingdom of Swaziland, an unlikely feminist hero emerged, that same day, when Wamukoya became the first Anglican woman bishop consecrated on African soil.
Warnukoya is currently chaplain at the University of Swaziland and St.
The group is in the preliminary stages of setting up and implementing a new commodity futures exchange in Swaziland.
Swaziland actually voted, when given the choice to continue with a ruling King or have a democracy, 90% in favour of retaining the King''s rule.
The relationship between a US beverage company and Africa's last absolute monarch became headline news in January, when human rights activists accused Coca Cola of propping up one of the continent's least-known dictators: King Mswati III of Swaziland.
Summary: Delegates from Egyptian financiers Fidico, offering to bail out Swaziland with a R2.

Full browser ?