Swaziland is a sovereign state in Southern Africa. Its formal name is the Kingdom of Swaziland. It is bordered to the east by Mozambique and to the north, west, and south by South Africa. The kingdom and its people are named after Mswati II, the 19th-century ruler who enlarged and united Swazi territory.
Swaziland is one of Africa’s smallest countries, measuring just 200 kilometers (120 miles) north to south and 130 kilometers (81 miles) east to west. Despite its size, the climate and geography of the country are diverse, ranging from a cold and mountainous highveld to a scorching and arid lowveld. The majority of the people are ethnic Swazis who speak Swati. They founded their kingdom in the mid-18th century, led by Ngwane III, and the current limits were set up in 1881. Swaziland was a British protectorate after the Anglo-Boer War from 1903 until 1967. On September 6, 1968, it regained its freedom.
The country is an absolute monarchy, with Ngwenyama (“King”) Mswati III as the present ruler. He is the country’s head of state, appointing prime ministers and a number of MPs from both houses (Senate and House of Assembly) in the country’s parliament. Every five years, elections are held to decide the majority in the House of Assembly. The current constitution went into effect in 2005.
Swaziland has a modest economy and is a developing country. Its GDP per capita of $9,714 places it in the lower-middle income bracket. Its primary local trading partner is South Africa, which is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Swaziland’s lilangeni currency is linked to the South African rand. The United States and the European Union are Swaziland’s two most important commercial partners. The agriculture and manufacturing industries employ the vast bulk of the country’s workforce. Swaziland is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations.
The Swazi population suffers severe health difficulties, including HIV/AIDS and, to a lesser degree, TB. Swaziland has a life expectancy of 50 years as of 2013. Swaziland’s population is very youthful, with a median age of 20.5 years and people aged 14 or younger representing 37.4 percent of the overall population. The current rate of population increase is 1.195 percent.
Swaziland’s culture is well-known. The nation’s most prominent events are umhlanga, celebrated in August/September, and incwala, the kingship dance performed in December/January.