/swah"zee land'/, n.
a kingdom in SE Africa between S Mozambique and the E Republic of South Africa: formerly a British protectorate. 1,031,600; 6704 sq. mi. (17,363 sq. km). Cap.: Mbabane.

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Introduction Swaziland
Background: Autonomy for the Swazis of southern Africa was guaranteed by the British in the late 19th century; independence was granted 1968. Student and labor unrest during the 1990s have pressured the monarchy (one of the oldest on the continent) to grudgingly allow political reform and greater democracy. Geography Swaziland -
Location: Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa
Geographic coordinates: 26 30 S, 31 30 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 17,363 sq km water: 160 sq km land: 17,203 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: total: 535 km border countries: Mozambique 105 km, South Africa 430 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: varies from tropical to near temperate
Terrain: mostly mountains and hills; some moderately sloping plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Great Usutu River 21 m highest point: Emlembe 1,862 m
Natural resources: asbestos, coal, clay, cassiterite, hydropower, forests, small gold and diamond deposits, quarry stone, and talc
Land use: arable land: 9.77% permanent crops: 0.7% other: 89.53% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 690 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: drought Environment - current issues: limited supplies of potable water; wildlife populations being depleted because of excessive hunting; overgrazing; soil degradation; soil erosion Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: Desertification, Law of the Sea
Geography - note: landlocked; almost completely surrounded by South Africa People Swaziland
Population: 1,123,605 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 45.5% (male 254,573; female 256,677) 15-64 years: 51.9% (male 281,645; female 301,071) 65 years and over: 2.6% (male 12,027; female 17,612) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.63% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 39.59 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 23.26 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 0.99 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/ female total population: 0.95 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 109.43 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 37 years female: 37.66 years (2002 est.) male: 36.35 years
Total fertility rate: 5.77 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 35.6% (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 212,000 (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 7,100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Swazi(s) adjective: Swazi
Ethnic groups: African 97%, European 3%
Religions: Zionist (a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship) 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 10%, Anglican, Bahai, Methodist, Mormon, Jewish and other 30%
Languages: English (official, government business conducted in English), siSwati (official)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 78.3% male: 78% female: 78.4% (1999 est.) Government Swaziland
Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Swaziland conventional short form: Swaziland
Government type: monarchy; independent member of Commonwealth
Capital: Mbabane; note - Lobamba is the royal and legislative capital Administrative divisions: 4 districts; Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini, Shiselweni
Independence: 6 September 1968 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 6 September (1968)
Constitution: none; constitution of 6 September 1968 was suspended 12 April 1973; a new constitution was promulgated 13 October 1978, but was not formally presented to the people; since then a few more outlines for a constitution have been compiled under the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), but so far none have been accepted
Legal system: based on South African Roman-Dutch law in statutory courts and Swazi traditional law and custom in traditional courts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age
Executive branch: chief of state: King MSWATI III (since 25 April 1986) head of government: Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas DLAMINI (since 9 August 1996) cabinet: Cabinet recommended by the prime minister and confirmed by the monarch elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Libandla, an advisory body, consists of the Senate (30 seats - 10 appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the monarch; members serve five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (65 seats - 10 appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by popular vote; members serve five- year terms) elections: House of Assembly - last held 16 and 24 October 1998 (next to be held NA 2003) election results: House of Assembly - balloting is done on a nonparty basis; candidates for election are nominated by the local council of each constituency and for each constituency the three candidates with the most votes in the first round of voting are narrowed to a single winner by a second round
Judicial branch: High Court; Court of Appeal; judges for both courts are appointed by the monarch Political parties and leaders: political parties are banned by the constitution - the following are considered political associations - Imbokodvo National Movement or INM [leader NA]; Ngwane National Libertatory Congress or NNLC [Obed DLAMINI, president]; People's United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO [Mario MASUKU, president]; Swaziland National Front or SWANAFRO [Elmond SHONGWE, president] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77,
participation: IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, PCA, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mary Madzandza KANYA FAX: [1] (202) 234-8254 telephone: [1] (202) 234-5002 chancery: 1712 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador James
US: D. McGEE embassy: Central Bank Building, Warner Street, Mbabane mailing address: P. O. Box 199, Mbabane telephone: [268] 404-6441 through 404-6445 FAX: [268] 404-5959
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 Economy Swaziland -
Economy - overview: In this small landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies more than 80% of the population. Manufacturing features a number of agroprocessing factories. Mining has declined in importance in recent years: diamond mines have shut down because of the depletion of easily accessible reserves; high-grade iron ore deposits were depleted by 1978; and health concerns have cut world demand for asbestos. Exports of soft drink concentrate, sugar, and wood pulp are the main earners of hard currency. Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa from which it receives nine-tenths of its imports and to which it sends more than two-thirds of its exports. Remittances from the Southern African Customs Union and Swazi workers in South African mines substantially supplement domestically earned income. The government is trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign investment. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and sometimes floods persist as problems for the future. Prospects for 2002 are strengthened by the country's status as a beneficiary of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act initiative.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $4.6 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,200 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 10% industry: 43% services: 47% (1999 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force: NA Labor force - by occupation: NA
Unemployment rate: 34% (2000 est.)
Budget: revenues: $448 million expenditures: $506.9 million, including capital expenditures of $147 million (FY01/02)
Industries: mining (coal), wood pulp, sugar, soft drink concentrates, textile and apparel Industrial production growth rate: 3.7% (FY95/96) Electricity - production: 362 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 55.8% other: 0% (2000) hydro: 44.2% nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 900.66 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 564 million kWh note: supplied by South Africa (2000)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts; cattle, goats, sheep
Exports: $702 million (f.o.b., 2001)
Exports - commodities: soft drink concentrates, sugar, wood pulp, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus and canned fruit
Exports - partners: South Africa 72%, EU 12%, UK 6%, Mozambique 4%, US 4% (1999)
Imports: $850 million (f.o.b., 2001)
Imports - commodities: motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
Imports - partners: South Africa 89%, EU 5%, Japan 2%, Singapore 2% (2000)
Debt - external: $336 million (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $104 million (2001)
Currency: lilangeni (SZL)
Currency code: SZL
Exchange rates: emalangeni per US dollar - 11.5808 (January 2002), 8.4933 (2001), 6.9056 (2000), 6.1087 (1999), 5.4807 (1998), 4.6032 (1997); note - the Swazi lilangeni is at par with the South African rand; emalangeni is the plural form of lilangeni
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Swaziland Telephones - main lines in use: 38,500 (2001) Telephones - mobile cellular: 45,000 (2001)
Telephone system: general assessment: a somewhat modern but not an advanced system domestic: system consists of carrier-equipped, open-wire lines and low-capacity, microwave radio relay international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 2 plus 4 repeaters, shortwave 3 (2001)
Radios: 170,000 (1999) Television broadcast stations: 5 plus 7 relay stations (2001)
Televisions: 23,000 (2000)
Internet country code: .sz Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6 (2001)
Internet users: 6,000 (2001) Transportation Swaziland
Railways: total: 297 km narrow gauge: 297 km 1.067-m gauge note: includes 71 km which are not in use (2001)
Highways: total: 3,800 km paved: 1,064 km unpaved: 2,736 km (2002)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: none
Airports: 18 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 17 914 to 1,523 m: 7 under 914 m: 10 (2001) Military Swaziland
Military branches: Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force (Army), Royal Swaziland Police Force Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 253,510 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 146,805 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $20 million (FY01/02)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 4.75% (FY00/01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Swaziland Disputes - international: Swaziland continues to press South Africa into ceding ethnic Swazi lands in Kangwane region of KwaZulu- Natal province that were long ago part of the Swazi Kingdom

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officially Kingdom of Swaziland

Country, southern Africa.

Area: 6,704 sq mi (17,364 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 1,124,000. Capitals: Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lobamba (legislative); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal). About nine-tenths of the population is Swazi and about one-tenth Zulu, with a small number of other minorities. Languages: Swazi (Swati), English (both official). Religions: Christianity, traditional beliefs. Currency: lilangeni. The landlocked country is composed of high, middle, and low velds, culminating in the Lubombo escarpment in the east. Fauna includes hippopotamuses, antelopes, zebras, and crocodiles. Four major rivers, including the Komati, flow through the country and irrigate citrus and sugarcane estates. Mineral resources include asbestos and diamonds. Swaziland is a monarchy with two legislative houses; its head of state and government is the king, assisted by the prime minister. Stone tools and rock paintings indicate prehistoric habitation in the region, but it was not settled until the Bantu-speaking Swazi people migrated there in the 18th century and established the nucleus of the Swazi nation. The British gained control in the 19th century after the Swazi king sought their aid against the Zulu. Following the South African War, the British governor of Transvaal administered Swaziland; his powers were transferred to the British high commissioner in 1906. In 1949 the British rejected the Union of South Africa's request to control Swaziland. The country gained limited self-government in 1963 and achieved independence in 1968. In the 1970s new constitutions were framed based on the supreme authority of the king and traditional government. Although the kingdom remained in place at the turn of the 21st century, steps were being taken for the establishment of a constitution. Swaziland has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, with more than 30% of the population infected.

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▪ 2009

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 1,018,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, assisted by Prime Ministers Absalom Themba Dlamini, Bheki Dlamini (acting) from September 18, and, from October 23, Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini

      Poverty, hunger, unemployment, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and political uncertainty remained the major challenges in Swaziland in 2008. Progressive political groups continued to demand a transition to a multiparty democracy but were disregarded by the government. The cost of living was high, and energy and food prices increased over the previous year. In June, King Mswati III summoned the Swazi people to a national meeting in Ludzidzini to discuss possible solutions to the economic challenges. The nation's poverty, exacerbated by extravagant spending by the king and his wives, was also the subject of several protests in August and early September prior to lavish government-held celebrations of the king's 40th birthday and the 40th anniversary of the country's independence.

      Parliamentary elections—the first to be held under the 2006 constitution—took place on September 19. They reportedly met international standards, but official observers cast doubt on the credibility of the results because of the country's restrictions on political activity. In other news, Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini announced on November 14 that the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 would be enforced to uproot terrorist elements in the country.

      Swaziland's per capita GPD was $2,903. The 2008–09 budget projected a deficit of 1.4% of GDP and indicated that inflation would rise beyond 12% in 2008. Almost 70% of the population was living below the poverty line. The rate of HIV/AIDS infection was reported to be 26% among Swazi adults aged 15–49 and 19% overall.

Nhlanhla Dlamini

▪ 2008

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 1,141,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini

      The constitutional and economic uncertainty that had dominated Swaziland during the previous year largely remained in 2007. The validity of the country's recently adopted constitution was legally challenged by pro-democracy groups at the beginning of 2007, but the High Court ruled in November that they had not convincingly proved their claim. In other judicial news, in June Richard Banda was sworn in as the chief justice of the High Court, and he promised that the independence of the judiciary and rule of law would be upheld. Leading labour unions and some political parties jointly organized protest marches on July 24 (in Manzini) and July 25 (in Mbabane) to register their discontent over the constitution, the banning of political parties, and worker-unfriendly policies. Violent student protests against the implementation of “semesterisation” led to the closure of the main campus of the University of Swaziland on December 10.

      Swaziland's budget showed a 2.8% surplus, and GDP stood at $2.3 billion. Straining the budget, however, was a huge wage bill for civil servants and ongoing projects for the Millennium Development Goals. Corruption continued to be a problem in both government and the private sector, and in February the Prevention of Corruption Act was promulgated. The number of those living below the poverty line rose to 70%, from 69% in 2006. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS dropped from 39.2% to 26% among those sexually active and to 19% overall.

Nhlanhla Dlamini

▪ 2007

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 1,029,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini

      Constitutional and economic uncertainty dominated Swaziland in 2006. The year began with bombings of government buildings to protest a constitution, which came into effect on February 8, that included a bill of rights—even for women—and allowed political activity, though not political parties. The finance minister's budget speech in March pointed to a rise in the number of those living below the poverty line from 65% in 2000 to 69% in 2006 and advised workers to expect low annual inflation adjustments. Although the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act had helped Swaziland attract huge Taiwanese investments in textile manufacturing for the American market, employment in the textile factories, with their predominantly female workers, fell from about 40,000 to 22,000.

       Corruption remained a problem. One commission was investigating the embezzlement of about 50 million emalangeni (about $7.2 million) that King Mswati III had earmarked to create employment, and another was looking into the misuse of funds for orphaned and vulnerable children, mostly victims of the HIV/AIDS pandemic (Swaziland had a 42.6% HIV/AIDS prevalence rate).

Ackson M. Kanduza

▪ 2006

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 1,032,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini

      On July 26, 2005, King Mswati III signed a new constitution for Swaziland, nine years after he had appointed a Constitution Review Commission. Swaziland had been without a constitution since 1973, when King Mswati's father, King Sobhuza II, abolished the 1968 constitution signed at independence. Though long-awaited, the new constitution was met with protests by a number of civil society organizations and labour groups that rejected key areas of the document and the manner by which it was adopted. Critics were particularly dismayed that the new constitution upheld a ban on opposition political parties.

      A five-year period of chastity imposed on young Swazi women in 2000 ended during the year. This cultural rite—known as umcwasho after the tasseled headgear worn by women to indicate their celibacy—had last been observed in the 1970s. King Mswati had reintroduced the rite partly in an attempt to reduce the high levels of HIV infection in the Swazi nation. There were many claims that the custom of umcwasho contributed to a significant reduction in the HIV infection level among teenagers between 2000 and 2005. Surveillance reports revealed, however, that the national HIV infection rate in 2005 stood at 42.6%, up from 38.6% in 2002.

      At the end of August, Swaziland held its first-ever jobs summit, which was aimed at boosting employment and reducing poverty. It helped raise 1.6 billion emalangeni (about $252 million), which would be deposited in a special fund to support small- and medium-sized business enterprises. An estimated 70% of Swaziland's population lived below the poverty line, and about 300,000 people needed food aid, up from 257,000 the previous year.

Ackson M. Kanduza

▪ 2005

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 1,083,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini

      By October 2004 significant advances had been made in two closely related issues that dominated political life in Swaziland—the review of the country's constitution and the restoration of the rule of law. Most of the year was spent trying to reach the rural Swazi population in accordance with a resolution made in June at the National Dialogue to increase participation in drawing up the new constitution. King Mswati III also came under international pressure at various meetings he attended to complete the draft, which he announced would be finished before the end of 2004.

      The king summoned the Swazi nation to the Sibaya, a traditional “people's parliament” in the sacred cattle kraal at Ludzidzini, where deliberations on the constitution lasted two weeks. Prince David Dlamini, minister of justice and constitutional affairs, indicated that 80% of the people supported a continuation of the royal system of government and that the document was ready for the parliament. It was generally expected that the constitution would not guarantee the establishment of political parties. The Peoples' United Democratic Movement did not participate in the constitutional proceedings but rallied its youth to effect change at its Swaziland Youth Congress, held in South Africa.

      Restoration of the rule of law was dealt a setback in February when the speaker of the National Assembly was forced to resign. Prince David later moved a bill in the parliament that paved the way for the restoration in November of the rule of law and the Supreme Court, which had been vacated in 2002. Meanwhile, the country suffered from a four-year drought and the highest HIV rate among adults in Africa.

Ackson M. Kanduza

▪ 2004

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 1,077,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, Paul Shabangu (acting) from September 29, and, from November 14, Absalom Themba Dlamini

      The draft constitution that had been presented to King Mswati III in October 2002 dominated the Swazi political agenda in 2003, followed closely by HIV/AIDS, which touched 38.6% of the population, and poverty, which affected about two-thirds of the people. On May 31 King Mswati presented the draft constitution to the Swazi nation and launched a public debate as the final stage of national consultations. Although he had indicated that he wanted a new constitution finalized before the end of October, the Constitutional Drafting Committee, which had been touring the country to gauge public opinion, did not complete its travels until mid-October. In addition, King Mswati went into ritual seclusion in mid-November for the Incwala (kingship) ceremony. The delay gave pro-democracy groups more time to review the draft constitution. Meanwhile, primary elections were held in September, and secondary and final elections were completed in October.

      King Mswati accepted the decision of the parliament not to buy him the jet that he had requested; the issue had aroused much domestic and international criticism. In June he organized and chaired a National Dialogue, an unusual and extraordinary event that received loud applause and was boycotted only by the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions. In mid-August the king hosted Global 2003, a Smart Partnership International Dialogue, amid some protests. Pro-democracy groups continued to protest and put pressure on the government throughout the year.

Ackson M. Kanduza

▪ 2003

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 1,124,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini

      The detention and trial of Mario Masuku, president of the People's United Democratic Movement, drew widespread attention in 2002. Masuku had been arrested in late 2000 after he made an allegedly seditious statement about King Mswati III. The high court released Masuku in August 2002 after the state failed to prove its claim.

      The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), headed by Prince David Dlamini, built on the findings of the Constitutional Review Commission released in 2001. In February King Mswati expressed reservations about the pace at which the CDC was working and the economic vision it was reflecting. Despite concerns, the king expected a draft constitution in October. He extended the submission date to February 2003, however, as he went into ritual seclusion in preparation for the annual Incwala (Kingship) ceremony.

      Throughout the year Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini and his cabinet made repeated political and economic blunders that strengthened the pro-democracy movement. In September the parliament rejected financing for a 450 million emalangeni (about $45 million) jet for the king. Dlamini claimed sole responsibility for the decision to purchase the executive jet; local and international critics argued that the money could be better spent fighting rampant poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

      Pro-democracy protests intensified when Mswati chose three high-school-age women as his intended brides despite his 2001 decree that young women should not engage in sexual activity for the next five years. The mother of one of the girls filed suit in an unprecedented legal dispute with the king to get her daughter back, but she dropped the suit after her daughter's engagement became official.

Ackson M. Kanduza

▪ 2002

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 1,104,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini

      The high point in Swazi politics during 2001 was reached when on August 10 the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) submitted its report to King Mswati III. The entire nation was called to Ludzidzini to witness the king's receipt of the commission's report, which provided a constitutional framework for the legal experts who would write the country's constitution.

      In April 1973 Sobhuza II, King Mswati III's father, had abolished the constitution that Great Britain bequeathed when colonial rule ended on Sept. 6, 1968. Although most parts of that constitution were subsequently restored, the sections providing a bill of rights and allowing political parties were removed. The CRC reported that the majority of the Swazi population did not favour the formation of political parties.

      Pro-democracy groups, however, continued to call for the establishment of such parties and for greater open participation in governance. The Swaziland government appeared to allow open political activities in October; for the first time, campaigns in the local government elections were promoted publicly.

Ackson M. Kanduza

▪ 2001

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 1,083,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini

      The year 2000 began with a scandal when the speaker of the Swaziland parliament stole cow dung from the royal kraal at Ludzidzini in the course of dancing the most sacred Swazi ritual, Incwala. At that time there had been much criticism of the nation's prime minister, and his replacement was considered imminent. It became widely speculated that the speaker, Mgabhi Dlamini, would have used the cow dung as an essential ingredient in a medicinal mixture that would ensure his appointment as the next prime minister or at least would consolidate his power base in the parliament. Members of the parliament, however, had become increasingly critical and intolerant of Dlamini's inefficiency, and he was replaced as speaker.

      In August during the Umhlanga (reed) dance, Swaziland's second most important national ritual, the traditional prime minister and governor of Ludzidzini, Dibanisa Mavuso, engaged in poaching and killed several impalas in excess of the legal limit. The dance always ended with a royal hunt, which was one way of controlling the wildlife population. Mavuso, however, abused tradition for his own pleasure and broke the law on wildlife conservation. He was dismissed from office but was protected from the humiliation of a court trial and a predictably certain imprisonment.

      These developments underlined the difficulties facing the Swazi government. An end to this political instability was not in sight, partly because the Constitutional Review Commission completed its work after four years without drafting a constitution to direct policy in the country. A new body with expertise in writing constitutions was to be appointed to prepare a constitution ahead of the elections expected in 2003.

Ackson M. Kanduza

▪ 2000

17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 985,000
Mbabane (administrative and judicial); Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal); Lobamba (legislative)
Chief of state:
King Mswati III, with much power shared by his mother, Queen Mother Ntombi Latfwala
Head of government:
Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini

      Swaziland in 1999 saw continuing delay in the work of the Constitutional Review Commission. Groups such as the People's United Democratic Movement that were demanding multiparty democracy changed their strategies and adopted active measures. They were believed to be linked to a number of bombings aimed at the government status quo. Two offices of Swaziland's unique tinkhundla (grass roots) government system were bombed, as were buildings in the traditional capital, Lobamba. Antiestablishment forces also mounted two demonstrations in South Africa, including one at the Commonwealth summit in Durban in November.

      The main government, the world's last remaining absolute monarchy, resisted and struck back. After two years of drafting the document, it launched its National Development Strategy (NDS), a vision of economic direction to 2022. The government imposed censorship on anticipated criticism of the NDS and successfully infiltrated and exerted its influence within the labour unions. Such political controversy was highly unusual.

      Swaziland's unemployment rate stood at 40%, annual economic growth had been about 2% since 1997, population growth was about 2.7%, and inflation was nearly 8%.

Ackson Kanduza

▪ 1999

      Area: 17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 966,000

      Capitals: Mbabane (administrative and judicial), Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal), and Lobamba (legislative)

      Chief of state and head of government: King Mswati III, assisted by Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini

      Although Swaziland remained peaceful during 1998, it was becoming more unstable. In October elections for the parliament were held, despite the fact that all political parties were banned. Opposition groups and labour unions, particularly the powerful Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, called for a general boycott of the election. Few voters reportedly registered, and in response the government raided the homes of several opposition leaders.

      Like those of other southern African countries, Swaziland's economy faltered during the year. The global downturn weakened the country's currency, and exports remained stagnant. As the downturn continued, crime surged. The country also was rocked by corruption. Several prominent lawyers and politicians, including the former minister of justice and one of the king's advisers, were accused of defrauding the government.

      The government did make some positive strides, however. Construction began on the Maguga Dam, which would reduce the country's dependency on South African electricity. In March Swaziland signed an agreement with Mozambique and South Africa to create a regional tourist and agricultural zone linked by highways and railroads.


▪ 1998

      Area: 17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 1,032,000

      Capitals: Mbabane (administrative and judicial), Lozitha and Ludzidzini (royal), and Lobamba (legislative)

      Chief of state: King Mswati III

      Head of government: Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini

      During 1997 King Mswati III appeared to be playing a cat-and-mouse game with the forces demanding democracy in his country. On July 26, 1996, he had appointed Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini his new prime minister and announced the creation of a 30-member constitutional review committee. The king called for nationwide submissions of proposed constitutional changes to the committee. These changes had followed an emergency meeting of regional leaders on July 24 in Maputo, Mozambique, to discuss Swaziland's political circumstances.

      The slow progress toward change provoked unrest in February 1997 when the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions coordinated opposition groups that called for amendments to the constitution to end the absolute monarchy and create a multiparty political system. A three-week nationwide strike that began in February halted the country's transportation system and disrupted the important sugar and timber businesses.

      The government reacted angrily, and the police used live ammunition to break up crowds of demonstrators. Four labour union leaders were arrested and charged with intimidation, and the strike ended in early March. Talks scheduled for March 5 to address the union demands failed when the government representatives did not appear.

      This article updates Swaziland, history of (Swaziland).

▪ 1997

      Swaziland is a landlocked monarchy of southern Africa and a member of the Commonwealth. Area: 17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 934,000. Administrative and judicial cap., Mbabane; royal caps., Lozitha and Ludzidzini; legislative cap., Lobamba. Monetary unit: lilangeni (plural: emalangeni), at par with the South African rand, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 4.54 emalangeni to U.S. $1 (7.16 emalangeni = £ 1 sterling). King, Mswati III; prime ministers in 1996, Prince Jameson Mbilini Dlamini until May 8 and, from July 26, Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini.

      The year 1996 proved one of mounting political tensions. The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions called a week-long general strike on January 22 in support of 27 demands to end the absolute monarchy and establish multiparty politics. Violent clashes between the security forces and the protesters resulted in three deaths. On January 27 King Mswati III called for an end to the strike, and negotiations were promised.

      At the opening of the parliament on February 16, the king said that a new constitution would be drafted over the next few months and that every citizen would be given an opportunity to contribute to the process. On February 27 the king said legislation banning political parties would be reconsidered. The king on May 8 dismissed Prime Minister Mbilini Dlamini, who had held the office since 1993; not until late July did he appoint a successor, Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This article updates Swaziland, history of (Swaziland).

▪ 1996

      Swaziland is a landlocked monarchy of southern Africa and a member of the Commonwealth. Area: 17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 913,000. Administrative cap., Mbabane; royal and legislative cap., Lobamba. Monetary unit: lilangeni (plural: emalangeni), at par with the South African rand, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 3.66 emalangeni to U.S. $1 (5.79 emalangeni = £1 sterling). King, Mswati III; prime minister in 1995, Prince Jameson Mbilini Dlamini.

      On Feb. 6, 1995, a fire swept through the national House of Assembly; the Swaziland Youth Congress claimed responsibility for the incident, which followed other fires at the homes of the deputy prime minister and the vice-chancellor of the University of Swaziland. A magistrate's court and government vehicles had also been targets of arson. These attacks coincided with hunger strikes by students protesting the election procedures for the students' council.

      On March 2 the finance minister, Isaac Shabangu (later dismissed by King Mswati III), presented his budget for 1995-96. This assumed revenues and grants totaling about 1,430,000,000 emalangeni, as opposed to predicted expenditure, excluding redemption of loans, of 1,515,000,000 emalangeni.

      A two-day general strike was called in March by the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) to force the government to act upon a list of 27 demands, including the reemployment of dismissed workers. As a result, Mbabane and other towns were shut down on March 13-14. At Manzini approximately 40,000 people attended a rally to support the strike action. Industrial unrest continued, and the SFTU called for another strike on July 17 but then abandoned it when the government strengthened its power against the unions by establishing penalties on trade union federations and officers should they call meetings that lead to work stoppages. Unions were also obliged to consult the government before applying for membership in international bodies, a measure that implied that the SFTU was under foreign influence. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Swaziland, history of (Swaziland).

▪ 1995

      Swaziland is a landlocked monarchy of southern Africa and a member of the Commonwealth. Area: 17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 883,000. Administrative cap., Mbabane; royal and legislative cap., Lobamba. Monetary unit: lilangeni (plural: emalangeni), at par with the South African rand, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 3.57 emalangeni to U.S. $1 (5.68 emalangeni = £1 sterling). King, Mswati III; prime minister in 1994, Jameson Mbilini Dlamini.

      Like other small countries on the periphery of South Africa, Swaziland in 1994 was reexamining its economic prospects in light of the democratic developments in its giant neighbour. In recent years Swaziland had been relatively untroubled politically and had done well economically. Yet despite the relative diversity of its economy—divided between agriculture and mining—the development indicators revealed some startling gaps. On the one hand, the nation enjoyed a per capita gross national product of $1,080, an average life expectancy of 57 years, and a daily calorie intake of 105% of requirements; on the other hand, only 30% of the people had access to safe water, and the mortality rate for live births until age five was a high 167 per 1,000.

      During the 1993-94 fiscal year, Swaziland had a budget deficit for the first time since 1985. Approximately 90% of all imports came from South Africa, a rate of dependence that Swaziland sought to reduce. The nation's exports were led by sugar, which accounted for 33% of foreign exchange earnings, followed by wood and wood products.

      In May Swaziland was host to a joint ministerial meeting of the European Union and African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states. Production and trade of ACP commodities were discussed. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Swaziland, history of (Swaziland).

▪ 1994

      Swaziland is a landlocked monarchy of southern Africa and a member of the Commonwealth. Area: 17,364 sq km (6,704 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 814,000. Administrative cap., Mbabane; royal and legislative cap., Lobamba. Monetary unit: lilangeni (plural: emalangeni), at par with the South African rand, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 3.45 emalangeni to U.S. $1 (5.23 emalangeni = £1 sterling). King, Mswati III; prime ministers in 1993, Obed Dlamini, Andreas Fakudze (acting) from October 25, and, from November 4, Jameson Mbilini Dlamini.

       Swaziland held its first multiparty elections in September 1993, which resulted in the prime minister, Obed Dlamini, failing to win a seat in Parliament (he was given a seat in the Senate, however). In June Swaziland signed an agreement with Pretoria to allow the secondment of South African judges, magistrates, and prosecutors to serve in Swaziland's courts. In August a number of opposition leaders were sought by the police—allegedly for distributing seditious pamphlets. They included Kislon Shongwe, the president of the People's United Democratic Movement, who reputedly took refuge in the U.K. High Commission.

      According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, some 150,000 Swazis suffering from the effects of the disastrous drought of 1992 would require food aid during 1993. The Swazi National Disaster Task Force chairman, Ben Sibandza, asked for further government aid for those hardest hit, mostly in eastern and southern Swaziland. Nearly 500,000 residents of the country were fed in what was the worst drought in memory. The livestock population was now secure, however, although the drought wiped out half the country's cattle in 1992. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Swaziland, history of (Swaziland).

* * *

officially  Kingdom of Swaziland , Swazi  Umbuso Weswatini 
Swaziland, flag of landlocked country in the eastern flank of South Africa, where it adjoins Mozambique. It extends about 110 miles (175 kilometres) from north to south and about 80 miles from west to east at its largest dimensions.

      The name Swazi is the Anglicized name of an early king and nation builder, Mswati II, who ruled from 1840 to 1868. The administrative centre is Mbabane, the former capital of the British colonial administration; the national capital is the seat of King Mswati III and his mother, the Ndlovukati, some 11 miles from Mbabane, at Phondvo in the vicinity of Lobamba, where the houses of parliament and other national institutions are situated.

The land

Relief and soils

      A long and complex geologic history has created a landscape with a surprising variety of relief, climate, and soils for such a small country. There are four well-defined physiographic regions, extending longitudinally from north to south in roughly parallel belts. From west to east they are the Highveld, the Middleveld, the Lowveld, and the Lubombo (Lebombo) escarpment. Geologically, the oldest formations are in the west, and the youngest are in the east.

      The Highveld, covering about 30 percent of the country, is a complex of granites and more ancient metamorphosed quartzites, sandstones, and volcanics that has been eroded into a rugged mountain land. The average elevation is between 3,500 and 4,500 feet (1,100 and 1,400 metres); the highest points are the summit massifs of Bulembu (6,108 feet [1,862 metres]) and Ngwenya (5,997 feet [1,828 metres]) in the extreme west. Known to the Swazi as Inkangala (a cold, treeless place), the Highveld was the last part of the country to be settled. Its deeper-weathered red to yellow acid soils have developed on the gentler gradients and in river valleys.

      The Middleveld occupies about one-fourth of the country and has an average altitude of 2,000 to 2,500 feet. It is a region of rolling uplands and wide, well-watered valleys. It is mainly underlain by ancient granites and gneisses (metamorphosed granites), with dolerites and quartzites, which have weathered deeply to produce friable red and clay loams interspersed with shallower profiles of sands and sandy loams. To the Swazi it is known as Live (“The Country”) or Inkabave (“The Navel”) and is the heartland of the Swazi nation.

      The Lowveld, or Bushveld, covering nearly 40 percent of the country, is a generally undulating lowland with isolated knolls and ridges rising abruptly above the general level of 500 to 1,000 feet. In general, the soils reflect the transition from the acidic granites and sandstones of the western Lowveld to the more basic basalts and dolerites of the eastern part—i.e., from sandy loams in the west to red and black clays in the east, the latter being some of the most naturally fertile soils in the country. This region is called Lihlanze by the Swazi, meaning a warm place with trees—in its undisturbed state, the typical African savanna.

      The Lubombo escarpment and plateau covers about 5 percent of the country, consisting of a narrow strip of about 600 square miles. It rises abruptly from the Lowveld to an average altitude of 2,000 feet, with higher peaks (Siteki and Mananga) of about 2,500 feet in the north. It is deeply dissected by the gorges of three of the main rivers that traverse the country from west to east, the Umbuluzi, the Usutu, and the Ingwavuma. The plateau soils vary considerably, from shallow sands to deeper loams, depending on the composition of the volcanic lavas that form the bedrock. The Swazi have no specific name for this part of the country.

      Swaziland is one of the best-watered countries in southern Africa. Major perennial rivers, which have their sources in South Africa, flow through the country to the Indian Ocean. They are the Lomati, the Komati (Komati River), the Umbuluzi, and the Usutu (Maputo River). The Usutu has the largest catchment in the country, with three main tributaries, the Usushwana, the Ngwempisi, and the Mkhondvo. In the south the Ingwavuma rises in western Swaziland and also cuts through the Lubombo.

      The climate is in general subtropical, but it is strongly influenced by the country's position on the eastern side of southern Africa, which exposes it to moist maritime tropical air coming off the Indian Ocean for much of the year. The cessation of maritime airflow in winter months because of intensified continental winds produces a high degree of climatic variability. The climate is also subject to steep temperature and precipitation gradients from west to east because of the fall in altitude of about 4,000 feet over a distance of about 50 miles.

      Average maximum and minimum monthly temperatures are 72° F (22° C) and 52° F (11° C) in the Highveld and 84° F (29° C) and 59° F (15° C) in the Lowveld. The Middleveld occupies an intermediate position in these gradations.

      Swaziland falls within the summer rainfall region of the subcontinent, where about 80 percent of the precipitation falls during the summer months of October to March, usually in the form of thunderstorms and frontal rains. Average annual rainfall in the Highveld is about 55 inches (1,400 millimetres), in the Middleveld 34 inches, in the Lowveld about 22 inches, and on the Lubombo about 35 inches. However, variability in the annual totals is great, and figures have fluctuated dramatically from year to year. In the Middleveld, where the bulk of the population lives, the average has varied from a high of 63 inches to a low of 13 inches within a period of a few years. These extreme fluctuations appear to relate to wetter and drier than average quasi-cyclic fluctuations of from 8 to 11 years, which have been identified in the rainfall records.

Plant and animal life
      The natural vegetation includes forest—confined mostly to the Highveld and the windward slopes of the Lubombo escarpment—savanna, and grassland. Factors such as soil composition and moisture produce a variety of vegetation subtypes. There are both wet and dry forests, various densities of savanna, and several grassland types, which range from sweet to sour based on their palatability when mature and dry. Altogether it is a rich flora, with ferns and flowering plants alone accounting for more than 2,600 species. Some have a very limited distribution and are found only in or around Swaziland.

      The natural fauna has been severely depleted in recent years because of habitat destruction caused by the spread of the human population, and representative species such as antelope (impala, reedbuck, duiker, waterbuck, wildebeest, and kudu), hippopotamus, rhinoceros, elephant, giraffe, and zebra are found largely in protected reserves. However, smaller mammals—such as the baboon, monkey, jackal, and mongoose—may still be encountered, and several types of snake have a wide distribution. Crocodiles are also common in Lowveld rivers. Birdlife is abundant in each habitat and comprises both resident and migrant (breeding and nonbreeding) populations. The migrants come from central and North Africa and from farther afield (northern Europe and eastern Asia in the case of storks, swallows, and hawks). Distinctive among the more common birds are barbets, weavers, the various hornbills, the lilac-breasted roller, and the purple-crested loerie.

Settlement patterns
      Traditionally, the Swazi lived in family homesteads (imithi) dispersed throughout the countryside. The only larger settlements were the homesteads of royalty and chiefs. This pattern has been modified since the late 19th century by the exposure of the rural Swazi to the money economy. Nucleated settlements grew up at important administrative and trading centres under British colonial rule from 1903, but the process of urbanization accelerated only after World War II, when the establishment of major agricultural, mining, and industrial operations acted as magnets for job seekers and created sizable company towns such as Mhlume, Simunye, Big Bend, and Mhlambanyatsi. The largest are the administrative capital of Mbabane and the commercial and industrial centre of Manzini. Some 30 percent of the population is urban, and this figure is expected to increase because the urban growth rate exceeds the growth rate of the population as a whole.

      The rural population lives within a communal land tenure system administered by the traditional chiefs. A typical homestead includes the main hut of the headman (umnumzane); the huts of his mother, wife (or wives), and children; the kitchen and storerooms; and the cattle enclosure (isibaya) in front and facing east. Cattle are more than draft animals and a source of milk; they constitute a store of wealth for use on social and ceremonial occasions (e.g., lobola, or bride-price).

      The traditional pattern of homestead life is strictly seasonal. With the onset of the rains in spring (August or September), women plant gardens along the riverbanks; later, when the heavy rains come in summer (October to February), with help from the men, they plow or hoe to sow corn (maize) and sorghum (a millet) in larger fields. At this time all able women and children abandon their homesteads for the fields, and the men also join in the planting and weeding. The summer months are, on the whole, the hungry months, unless supplemented by remittances from working members of the family. Autumn to early winter (March to May) is the harvest; by July the last of the corn and sorghum has been dried and brought in. Activity then moves to the homesteads, where women and men thresh the grain, the best of which is stored and the remainder consumed at once. Winter is a time for relaxation, hunting, entertaining, and visiting. To some extent this traditional round has been disrupted by population pressure on land, by increased drift to the towns, by the absence of men working in the cities, and by the use of hired tractors for plowing, but the basic pattern is still recognizable.

      The traditional centres of Swazi life are the royal villages of the ngwenyama (the king) at Ludzidzini and of the ndlovukazi (the queen mother) at Phondvo, both of which are in the “royal heart” of the country and not far from the old royal capital of Lobamba.

The people
      The Swazi nation is an amalgamation of more than 70 clans. Their chiefs form the traditional hierarchy under the ngwenyama and ndlovukazi, who are of the largest clan, the Dlamini. The amalgamation brought together clans already living in the area that is now Swaziland, many of whom were of Sotho origin, and clans of Nguni origin who entered the country with the Dlamini in the early 19th century. Traditional administration and culture are regulated by an uncodified Swazi Law and Custom, which is recognized both constitutionally and judicially. The language is siSwati, which is akin to Zulu, though it shares official status with English, which is in fact used generally for official written communication.

      The Swazis comprise about 97 percent of the population, the remainder being immigrants from Mozambique, South Africa, and the rest of the world. Included among these are a few thousand Europeans and Asians and their families engaged in business activities.

      The majority of Swazis belong to Christian churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, whose missions were responsible before independence for much of the education and health services, particularly in the rural areas. However, many adherents also retain the traditional beliefs and practices of the rest of the population.

The economy
      Overall, the economy displays a marked duality of large-scale intensive production and small-scale semi-subsistence activities. This produces a great contrast in incomes and living standards, which tends to be obscured by average per capita statistics. National economic policy is based on the free enterprise or market philosophy, with fiscal measures to redistribute resources to education, health, and community improvement projects. Government revenue is derived principally from receipts from the Southern African Customs Union, sales tax, and corporate and personal taxation. The budget is generally in balance, but foreign aid is a major contributor to the capital or development budget, providing a buffer to help meet any deficit in revenue. Nevertheless, the dual economy persists, and the formal employment sector is unable to absorb the annual increment of new workers generated by the country's high population growth rate. Many workers, mostly men, are forced to seek employment as migrant workers, predominantly in South Africa. Labour relations in the country are at an embryonic stage, with a generally fragmented trade union movement pitted against a longer-established employers' association and with the government endeavouring to act as referee and arbiter.

Agriculture and forestry
      About two-thirds of the population lives in the rural areas, where a mixture of subsistence and commercial farming is practiced. The staple crop is corn, and other crops include sorghum (mainly for the brewing of traditional beer), pumpkins, beans, peas, and other vegetables. Crop yields are generally low, but the more progressive farmers produce on a par with the large-scale commercial sector. Because of the role of cattle as a traditional store of wealth, the livestock population, mostly cattle and goats, greatly exceeds the country's carrying capacity and is a major cause of vegetation loss and soil erosion.

      Large-scale commercial farming is held mainly in the hands of foreigners, although since independence the Swazi nation has acquired a large stake in this sector, especially in the largest agro-industry, the cultivation of sugarcane and the manufacture of sugar. Also of major commercial importance are the extensive man-made forests of pine and eucalyptus (in the Highveld), which supply timber to a wood-pulp mill and several sawmills. Unbleached wood pulp is the country's second largest export after sugar. The area under timber plantations is about 6 percent of the country's total area. Other important crops are citrus fruits and cotton (Lowveld), pineapples (Middleveld), rice, tobacco, and vegetables. Commercial livestock farming is also important, particularly in the Lowveld, and supports meat processing and dairy plants.

      Mining has declined in relative importance since the 1960s, asbestos and coal in particular. Iron ore, tin, and gold have been exploited sporadically in the past, but no mines are now active. Since 1984 diamonds have been growing in importance and are now the second largest mineral export after asbestos.

      The processing of agricultural, forest, and livestock products forms the backbone of the industrial sector. Other manufactures include textiles and clothing, which expanded enormously in the 1980s, beverages, office equipment, furniture, and various other light industries.

      Tourism, particularly from South Africa, has become a major sector of the economy. Centred on the hotel and casino complex in the central Ezulwini valley (about seven miles from Mbabane), the sector boasts smaller complexes at Piggs Peak in the north and at Nhlangano in the south. High-quality handmade textiles and tapestries and a range of stone and wooden handicrafts complement this sector.

Finance and trade
      Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa constitute the Southern African Customs Union, which provides generally for the free movement of goods and services throughout the area. Swaziland has its own currency, the lilangeni, but is also a member of the southern African monetary union (with Lesotho and South Africa), which seeks to ensure that currencies are on par and funds move freely between the member countries.

      Apart from one bank that is wholly owned by the government, the commercial banks are subsidiaries of international (including South African) banks. As a consequence of these associations, most international trade is with South Africa as part of its regional trading network. Exports are largely raw materials or lightly processed products, essentially from the agro-forestry sector, while imports consist of machinery and transport equipment, fuels and lubricants, and foodstuffs.

      Good all-weather roads link the main population centres and extend to neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique. The railway, originally constructed from the western to the eastern border for the export of iron ore through Maputo in Mozambique, has been extended to provide links to the South African network in both the north and the south of the country. The national airport is at Matsapha, about five miles from Manzini, from which the national airline (Royal Swazi National Airways) operates scheduled services to African destinations.

Administration and social conditions

      Executive authority is vested in the king and is exercised through a dual system of government. The king appoints a prime minister and a cabinet of ministers to advise him on government matters. In addition, there is the Swazi National Council, which advises the king on all matters regulated by Swazi Law and Custom and connected with Swazi traditions and culture. Swaziland's legislature is bicameral. The House of Assembly comprises 65 members, of whom 55 are elected by popular vote and 10 are appointed by the king. The Senate has 30 members, of whom 10 are elected by the House of Assembly and 20 are appointed by the king. The general electorate consists of all citizens over the age of 18 grouped into 55 constituencies (tinkhundla). Each tinkhundla elects one member to the House of Assembly; elections are held at intervals of no more than five years. Political parties are banned, but, nonetheless, several are active in the country.

      Swaziland's judicial system is dualistic, with both constitutional and traditional courts. The constitutional courts comprise the Court of Appeal, the High Court, subordinate or magistrate's courts, and an industrial court. There are also traditional Swazi National Courts, including two courts of appeal and a higher appeal court. The Swazi National Courts hear only cases in which all those involved are Swazi and the charges fall within a restricted list of criminal and civil matters. They must defer to the constitutional courts in any case of conflict between the two systems.

      Local government is administered on a regional level. An administrator appointed by the king heads each of the country's four regions (Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini, and Shiselweni).

      Land (land reform) ownership is one of the most sensitive issues in national life. Traditionally, all land is vested in the king in trust for the nation and allocated as communal land by the chiefs. In the late 19th century, however, much of the territory was alienated as land concessions to foreigners—as owners according to them but as lessees according to the Swazi. One of the first tasks of the British crown when it assumed direct control of Swaziland in 1906 was to try to reconcile the rights of the Swazi with those of the concession holders. In 1907 it decided to reserve one-third of the country for Swazi use and to allow the concessionaires to retain two-thirds, but by World War II little progress had been achieved. The real impetus came at independence when all the crown lands became national land; shortly afterward Britain agreed to finance the repurchase of nearly one million acres. Other land was also purchased privately by the nation. Swazi Nation Land now constitutes about two-thirds of Swaziland. The remainder is held under individual title, but some of this is also under Swazi ownership, both nationally and individually.

      Schooling was introduced as a part of missionary activity in precolonial times, and missionaries continue to influence the education system. The Swazi nation itself set up schools as early as 1906, and a number of chiefs established what were known as “tribal” schools. However, it was only after independence that the coverage of primary and secondary schools began to increase dramatically and to enable more than 80 percent of the school-age population to attend full-time. As a result, illiteracy is declining steadily. State education is not free, and school fees constitute a major financial commitment for parents. There are also teacher-training and vocational and industrial training centres, as well as a university.

Health and welfare
      The initial stimulus for health services came from church missions and from industrial establishments catering to large numbers of employees and their dependents. They established both hospitals and rural clinics. There are also private medical practitioners in all the larger urban centres. Chief causes of illness are intestinal infections, tuberculosis, food deficiencies, and respiratory diseases. After its virtual elimination in the 1950s, malaria has again become a major disease, especially in the Lowveld, where there has been a large influx of infected immigrant labour from Mozambique. By 2000, Swaziland suffered from one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, with nearly one-fourth of the population being afflicted.

Cultural life
      Despite the changes wrought by the money economy, by a high degree of literacy and basic education, and by steadily improving living standards and changing life-styles, tradition continues to play an important role in Swazi society, both at the national ceremonial level and in day-to-day personal contacts. This reflects the unity of the Swazi as one nation under a traditional leader and especially their reverence for the struggle of King Sobhuza II over the 61 years of his reign to regain their independence.

      The two main cultural events are the Incwala in December and the Umhlanga in August. The Incwala is sometimes described as a first-fruits ceremony, but, spread over six days, it is a much more complex ritual of renewing and strengthening the kingship and the nation, with songs and dances used only on this occasion. The Umhlanga, or Reed Dance, brings together the maidens of the country to cut reeds for the annual repairs to the windbreaks of the queen mother's village; it lasts for five days. It is also symbolic of the unity of the nation and of its perpetuation through the massed ranks of young women. Both ceremonies are held at the national capital of the queen mother.

      Other ceremonies are associated with the communal weeding and harvesting of the king's fields (and those of the chiefs) and with customary marriages. Most ceremonies are accompanied by traditional music, songs, and dancing. Musical instruments are simple in design, a kudu horn (impalampala) used for hunting or herding cattle, a calabash attached to a bow (umakweyane) for love songs, the reed flute, played by small boys while herding, and rattles made of seedpods attached to the wrists and ankles. However, more typical of the homestead nowadays are the radio and record and tape players.


Early history
      The Swazi nation is a relatively recent political grouping, the main amalgamation of clans having taken place under Dlamini military hegemony about the middle of the 19th century. However, the record of human settlement in what is now Swaziland stretches far back into prehistory. The earliest stone tools, found on ancient river terraces, date back more than 250,000 years, and later stone implements are associated with evidence of Homo sapiens from perhaps as long ago as 100,000 years. By 42,000 years ago the inhabitants were quarrying red and black hematite ore for cosmetic purposes on the top of the Ngwenya massif (where in 1964 a large opencut mining operation was developed to exploit the rich ore deposit). This ranks as one of the world's earliest mining and trading activities, and mining continued for many thousands of years after that. Much later—about 20,000 years ago—the archaeological record reveals occupation by the ancestors of the San hunter-gatherers, who created the distinctive rock paintings found throughout the western part of the country.

      About 2,000 years ago groups of Bantu-speaking peoples (Bantu peoples) (Nguni, Sotho, and Tswana) moved southward across the Limpopo River. They cultivated crops, kept livestock (sheep and goats), used pottery, and smelted iron—hence their designation as Early Iron Age peoples. At a later date cattle were introduced. These people are recorded at Ngwenya, where the mining of iron ore has been dated to about AD 400. During the following centuries the more attractive areas of Swaziland were settled by these ancestors of the Nguni and Sotho clans, whom the Swazi encountered in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

      The ancestors of the Dlamini clan were part of this southward movement, which reached the Delagoa Bay area (now Maputo) of Mozambique some considerable time before the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 16th century. There they settled as part of the Thembe-Tonga group of peoples until the mid-18th century, when, probably because of dynastic conflict, they moved southward along the coastal plain between the mountains and the Indian Ocean—“scourging the Lubombo,” as a royal praise song puts it. Up to this time they called themselves Emalangeni, after an ancestral Langa. Later they moved westward through the Lubombo range and up the Pongola valley, where about 1770 under their king Ngwane III they established the first nucleus of the Swazi nation (bakaNgwane) near what is now Nhlangano.

Emergence of the Swazi nation
      This was a turbulent period in the history of southeastern Africa, when a number of major clan groupings were struggling for supremacy. Two of these, the Ndwandwe (Ngoni) and the Zulu, located to the south of the new Ngwane homeland, constituted a serious threat to the Dlamini, who strove to establish their control over the clans among whom they had settled. Nevertheless, by the end of the century, they had achieved considerable success in assimilating some of these clans and in forging bonds with others to create a new political grouping. However, this new power base was not strong enough to ward off aggression by their southern neighbours, so about 1820 under their new king— Sobhuza I, or Somhlohlo (“The Wonder”)—they moved northward to establish a safer heartland in central Swaziland (the Middleveld). There the Dlamini consolidated their power under Sobhuza I and his son Mswati II (Mswati). Part of this success must be attributed to Sobhuza's adoption of the Zulu age-group system of military organization, which created regiments across clan loyalties and which was at all times strictly disciplined. By 1860 they had extended their power through conquest and assimilation far beyond the boundaries of present-day Swaziland under Mswati II, whom later generations described as “their greatest fighting king” and who gave his name to the nation.

      At the peak of their power, however, a new factor had emerged in the regional geopolitics, which over the next 40 years caused the gradual contraction of Swazi territorial and political authority. This was the competing pressure from the expanding Boer republic of the Transvaal and from the growing British (British Empire) imperial presence, especially after the discovery in South Africa of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1871.

      The main destabilizing force was the stream into the country of European prospectors and concession hunters, which the Swazi were able to contain for a while but which became a flood after the kingship passed to Mbandzeni in 1875. By 1890 so many concessions had been granted for so many purposes (in addition to land and mineral rights) that practically the whole country was covered two, three, or even four deep in concessions of all kinds and for different periods. Although the Swazi maintained that these were all leasehold rights that would terminate at some future date, they had, as it later transpired, signed away their independence.

      In 1888 the Swazi tried to regulate the new influences that the influx of Europeans had created by granting them a charter of conditional self-government subject to the royal veto. Behind the concessions scramble by individuals, however, lay the intrigue and conflict of the two white powers, the Boers and the British. The former needed a route to the sea, while the latter wanted to contain them. Swaziland stood in the way, as an obstacle to be manipulated by both.

      In 1890, under a convention between the British government and the South African Republic, a provisional government consisting of representatives of the two powers and a representative of the Swazi people was set up. In 1893 the British government signed a new convention permitting the South African Republic to negotiate with the Swazi regent and her council for a proclamation allowing the republic to assume powers of jurisdiction, legislation, and administration without the incorporation of Swaziland into the republic. The Swazi refused to sign the proclamation, but in 1894 another convention was signed by the two powers, virtually giving unilateral effect to its terms. After the South African War of 1899–1902 all the rights and powers of the republic passed to Great Britain, and in June 1903, by an order in council under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, the governor of the Transvaal was empowered to administer Swaziland and to legislate by proclamation. In 1906 these powers were transferred to a high commissioner for Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland.

Colonial administration
      The colonial years from 1906 to the late 1940s saw Swaziland drift into a backwater of the British Empire. A fundamental reason was that provision had been made in the South Africa Act of 1909 (which established the Union of South Africa as a British dominion) for the possible eventual transfer of Swaziland (and Basutoland and Bechuanaland) to the union. While this possibility existed, no socioeconomic improvement took place, and it was difficult to distinguish Swaziland from the neighbouring rural areas of South Africa (there were no border posts). Politically, the situation was epitomized in the downgrading of the title of king to that of paramount chief and of his function to that of “native administration.” Despite a number of requests from South Africa over the years, however, the imperial power declined to transfer Swaziland. This resolution was stiffened by events in South Africa after the 1948 election, which heralded the onset of apartheid. Also, from 1945 onward, Britain had begun to tackle socioeconomic problems. By the mid-1950s the issue of transfer was dead, though the grand apartheid design of separate homelands for Africans still included Swaziland.

      From 1960 the economy forged ahead steadily, but sociopolitical progress followed more slowly. A constitution providing for limited self-government was promulgated in 1963, and in 1967 the country became a protected state under which the kingship was restored. This was followed by full independence on September 6, 1968.

Swaziland since independence
      King Sobhuza II of Swaziland was installed as the Ngwenyama of the Swazi nation in 1921. The king jealously cherished and preserved Swazi traditions. Five years after independence, the king repealed the constitution designed by the British and restored the traditional system of government, in which all effective power remains in the royal capital. A system of local government, known as the tinkhundla, operates at the grass roots. Sobhuza's concession to modern government was to retain the cabinet system with a prime minister and other ministers, but all are chosen by the king. Under his firm but benevolent rule, Swaziland enjoyed a remarkable degree of political stability and economic progress. Emphasis was placed on education—which had been neglected in colonial times—on health, and on other human resource developments.

      King Sobhuza's death on August 21, 1982, was followed by a power struggle within the royal family, which was not finally resolved until 1986, when the teenage heir, Prince Makhosetive, was installed as King Mswati III. His rule, characterized as autocratic and rife with corruption and excess, was beset with demands for democratic reform. Demonstrations and strikes were held during the 1990s and 2000s to protest the slow pace of progress toward democratic change. To appease his many critics, King Mswati III appointed a committee to draft a new constitution in 2001. Released for public comment in May 2003, it was criticized for falling short of democratic reform, as it banned opposition political parties and allowed the king to retain absolute governing powers.

Additional Reading
The physical and human geography of the country are described in Social Studies Atlas for Swaziland (1991); G. Murdoch, Soils and Land Capability in Swaziland (1968); Robert Harold Compton, The Flora of Swaziland (1976); Brian Allan Marwick, The Swazi (1940, reissued 1966), an ethnographic account; Hilda Kuper, An African Aristocracy: Rank Among the Swazi (1947), on the social life and institutions of the Swazi; Report on the 1986 Swaziland Population Census, vol. 4, Analytical Report (1991?); D.C. Funnell, Under the Shadow of Apartheid: Agrarian Transformation in Swaziland (1991); Christian P. Potholm, Swaziland: The Dynamics of Political Modernization (1972); and Alan R. Booth, Swaziland: Tradition and Change in a Southern African Kingdom (1983).Historical works include David Price Williams, “Archaeology in Swaziland,” South African Archaeological Bulletin, 35(131):13–18 (June 1980); Peter B. Beaumont, “The Ancient Pigment Mines of Southern Africa,” South African Journal of Science, 69:140–146 (May 1973); J.R. Masson, “Rock-paintings in Swaziland,” South African Archaeological Bulletin, 16:(64):128–133 (December 1961); J.S.M. Matsebula, A History of Swaziland, 3rd ed. (1988); Carolyn Hamilton (ed.), In Pursuit of Swaziland's Precolonial Past (1990); Philip Bonner, Kings, Commoners, and Concessionaires: The Evolution and Dissolution of the Nineteenth-Century Swazi State (1983); and Hilda Kuper, Sobhuza II, Ngwenyama and King of Swaziland: The Story of an Hereditary Ruler and His Country (1978).John Richard Masson

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