Swaziland
Overview
Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland (Umbuso weSwatini), and sometimes called Ngwane or Swatini, is a landlocked
Landlocked
A landlocked country is a country entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas. There are 48 landlocked countries in the world, including partially recognized states...

 country in Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, and to the east by Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

. The nation, as well as its people, are named after the 19th century king Mswati II.

Swaziland is a small country, no more than 200 kilometres (124.3 mi) north to south and 130 kilometres (80.8 mi) east to west.
Encyclopedia
Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland (Umbuso weSwatini), and sometimes called Ngwane or Swatini, is a landlocked
Landlocked
A landlocked country is a country entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas. There are 48 landlocked countries in the world, including partially recognized states...

 country in Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, and to the east by Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

. The nation, as well as its people, are named after the 19th century king Mswati II.

Swaziland is a small country, no more than 200 kilometres (124.3 mi) north to south and 130 kilometres (80.8 mi) east to west. The western half is mountainous, descending to a lowveld region to the east. The eastern border with Mozambique and South Africa is dominated by the escarpment of the Lebombo Mountains
Lebombo Mountains
The Lebombo Mountains, also called Lubombo Mountains, are an 800km long, narrow range of mountains in Southern Africa stretching from Hluhluwe in KwaZulu-Natal in the south to Punda Maria in the Limpopo Province in South Africa in the north. Part of the mountains are found in South Africa,...

. The climate is temperate in the west, but may reach 40 °C (104 °F) in summer in the lowveld. Rainfall occurs mainly in the summer and may reach 2 metres (6.6 ft) in the west.

The area that Swaziland now covers has been continuously inhabited since prehistory. Today, the population is primarily ethnic Swazis whose language is siSwati, though English is spoken as a second language. The Swazi people descend from the southern Bantu who migrated from Central Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Anglo Boer war saw the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 make Swaziland a protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 under its direct control. Swaziland gained independence in 1968. Swaziland is a member of the Southern African Development Community
Southern African Development Community
The Southern African Development Community is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 15 southern African states...

, the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

, and the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. The head of state is the king, who appoints the prime minister and a small number of representatives for both chambers of parliament. Elections are held every five years to determine the majority of the representatives. A new constitution was adopted in 2005.

Some 75% of the population are employed in subsistence farming, and 60% of the population live on less than the equivalent of US$1.25 per day. Swaziland's main trading partner is South Africa, and its currency is pegged to the South African rand. Swaziland's economic growth and societal integrity is highly endangered by its disastrous HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 epidemic, to an extent where the United Nations Development Program has written that if it continues unabated, the "longer term existence of Swaziland as a country will be seriously threatened." The infection rate in the country is unprecedented and the highest in the world at 26.1% of adults and over 50% of adults in their 20s.

History

Artifacts indicating human activity dating back to the early Stone Age 200,000 years ago have been found in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Prehistoric rock art paintings date from ca. 25,000 B.C. and continue up to the 19th century.

The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan
Khoisan
Khoisan is a unifying name for two ethnic groups of Southern Africa, who share physical and putative linguistic characteristics distinct from the Bantu majority of the region. Culturally, the Khoisan are divided into the foraging San and the pastoral Khoi...

 hunter-gatherer
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

s.They were largely replaced by the Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations
Bantu expansion
The Bantu expansion or the Bantu Migration was a millennia-long series of migrations of speakers of the original proto-Bantu language group...

 who hailed from the Great Lakes regions of Eastern Africa. Evidence of agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 and iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 use dates from about the 4th century and people speaking languages ancestral to current Sotho
Sotho languages
The Sotho–Tswana languages are a group of closely related Southern Bantu languages spoken in Southern Africa that include:*Tswana , Sotho , Northern Sotho *Lozi...

 and Nguni languages began settling no later than the 11th century. The Bantu people known as the Swazis established iron-working and settled farming colonies in the 15th century after crossing the Limpopo river
Limpopo River
The Limpopo River rises in central southern Africa, and flows generally eastwards to the Indian Ocean. It is around long, with a drainage basin in size. Its mean annual discharge is 170 m³/s at its mouth...

. They experienced great economic pressure from the rival Ndwandwe clans from the south.

The country derives its name from a later king, Mswati I. However, Ngwane is an alternative name for Swaziland and Dlamini remains the surname of the royal house
Royal House
A royal house or royal dynasty consists of at least one, but usually more monarchs who are related to one another, as well as their non-reigning descendants and spouses. Monarchs of the same realm who are not related to one another are usually deemed to belong to different houses, and each house is...

, while Nkosi means "king". Scholarly history of Swaziland shows that independent chiefdoms and small kingdoms dominated by various clans were initially conquered and incorporated into the growing Ngwane kingdom
History of Swaziland
According to tradition, the original followers of the present Dlamini clan of the Swazi country migrated south before the 16th century to what is now Mozambique. Following a series of conflicts with people living in the area of modern Maputo, the Ngwane, as they then called themselves, settled in...

 ruled by members of the Dlamini clan sometime in the 18th and 19th centuries, long before British colonisation
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

According to Swazi royalist tradition, these clans came to be classified in the Dlamini kingdom as the Emakhandzambile category of clans ("those found ahead", e.g. the Gamedze), meaning that they were on the land prior to Dlamini immigration and conquest, as opposed to the Bomdzabuko ("true Swazi") who accompanied the Dlamini kings, and the Emafikemuva ("those who came behind") who joined the kingdom later. Emakhandzambile clans initially were incorporated with wide autonomy
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

, and often in part by granting them special ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

 and political status (cf.
Cf.
cf., an abbreviation for the Latin word confer , literally meaning "bring together", is used to refer to other material or ideas which may provide similar or different information or arguments. It is mainly used in scholarly contexts, such as in academic or legal texts...

 mediatisation), but the extent of their autonomy was drastically curtailed by King Mswati II
Mswati II of Swaziland
Mswati II was the king of Swaziland between 1840 and 1868. He was also the eponym of Swaziland. Called by the anthropologist Hilda Kuper "the greatest of the Swazi fighting kings," Swaziland reached its greatest territorial extent under Mswati II Mswati II (otherwise known as Mswazi, Mavuso or...

, who attacked and subdued some of the clans in the 1850s.

The autonomy of the Swaziland Nation was dictated by British rule of southern Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1881 the British government signed a convention recognizing Swazi independence. However, controversial land and mineral rights concessions were made under the authority of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act of 1890 in terms of which the administration of Swaziland was also placed under that of the then South African Republic
South African Republic
The South African Republic , often informally known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent Boer-ruled country in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century. Not to be confused with the present-day Republic of South Africa, it occupied the area later known as the South African...

 (Transvaal). Swaziland was indirectly involved in the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 (1899–1902).
The Swaziland independence Constitution was promulgated by Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in November 1963 in terms of which a legislative Council and an Executive Council were established. This development was opposed by the Swazi National Council (liqoqo).

Despite such opposition, elections took place and the first Legislative Council of Swaziland was constituted on 9 September 1964. Changes to the original constitution proposed by the Legislative Council were accepted by Britain and a new Constitution providing for a House of Assembly and Senate was drawn up. Elections under this Constitution were held in 1967. Since 1973, Swaziland has seen a rather quiet struggle between pro-multiparty activists and supporters of the current Tinkhundla
Tinkhundla
In Swaziland, an inkhundla is an administrative subdivision smaller than a district, but larger than an umphakatsi...

 (constituencies) System of governance or Grass Roots Democracy System.
In June 2011, Swaziland, fearing bankruptcy, asked for a financial bailout from South Africa.

Government

The head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 is the king or Ngwenyama
Ngwenyama
Ngwenyama is the title of the male ruler or king of Swaziland, counterpart of the Ndlovukati. Ngwenyama means "lion" in Swati, but in an honorific sense distinguished from -bhubhesi, the usual way of referring to lions as animals...

(lit. Lion), currently King Mswati III, who ascended to the throne in 1986 after the death of his father King Sobhuza II in 1982 and a period of regency. By tradition, the king reigns along with his mother or a ritual substitute, the Ndlovukati
Ndlovukati
Ndlovukati is a Swati title that roughly means Queen Mother or Senior Queen, and is given preferentially to the mother of the King or another female royal of high-status if the King's mother has died.-Origins:...

(lit. She-Elephant). The former was viewed as the administrative head of state and the latter as a spiritual and national head of state, with real power counter-balancing that of the king, but during the long reign of Sobhuza II the role of the Ndlovukati became more symbolic. The king appoints the prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 from the legislature and also appoints a minority of legislators to both chambers of Libandla
Parliament of Swaziland
The Parliament of Swaziland consists of two chambers:*The Senate *The House of Assembly The Houses of Parliament are located in Lobamba.-External links:*...

 (parliament), with help from an advisory council. The king is allowed by the constitution to appoint some members to parliament for special interests. These special interests are citizens who might have been left out by the electorate during the course of elections or did not enter as candidates. This is done in order to balance views in parliament. Special interests could be people of gender, race, disability, business community, civic society, scholars, chiefs and so on. The Senate
Senate of Swaziland
The Senate of Swaziland is the upper chamber of the country's bicameral Parliament.The Senate has a total of 30 members. 20 members are appointed by the King of Swaziland, while the remaining 10 are elected by the House of Assembly. These members were last elected on 31 October 2003...

 consists of 30 members which some are appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and others elected by the lower house. The House of Assembly
House of Assembly of Swaziland
The House of Assembly of Swaziland is the lower chamber of the country's bicameral Parliament.There are a total of 55 single-member constituencies corresponding to the tinkhundlas . 14 tinkhundlas are located in Hhohho District, 11 in Lubombo District, 16 in Manzini District, and 14 in Shiselweni...

 has 65 seats, 55 of which are occupied by elected representatives from the 55 constituencies around the country, 10 appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and the attorney general is the ex-officio member. Elections are held every five years.

In 1968, Swaziland adopted a Westminster-style
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

 constitution, but in 1973 King Sobhuza II on the advice of parliament at the time suspended it due to widespread complaints by citizens of the country. In 2001, King Mswati III appointed a committee to draft a new constitution. Drafts were released for comment in May 1999 and November 2000. These were strongly criticized by civil society organizations in Swaziland and human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 organizations elsewhere. In 2005, the constitution was put into effect, though there is still much debate in the country about the constitutional reforms. From the early seventies, there was active resistance to the royal hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

. However despite complaints from progressive formations, strong support for the monarchy and the current political system by the majority of the population is still there. This is due to the fact that submissions were made by citizens around the country to commissions including the constitutional draft committee that they would prefer maintain the current situation.

The Swazi bicameral Parliament or Libandla consists of the Senate
Senate
A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature or parliament. There have been many such bodies in history, since senate means the assembly of the eldest and wiser members of the society and ruling class...

 (30 seats; 10 members appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the monarch; to serve five-year terms) and the House of Assembly
House of Assembly
House of Assembly is a name given to the legislature or lower house of a bicameral parliament. In some countries this may be at a subnational level....

 (65 seats; 10 members appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by popular vote; to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Assembly – last held 19 September 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: House of Assembly – balloting is done on a non-party 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.

Administrative divisions

Swaziland is divided into four districts:
  • Hhohho
  • Lubombo
  • Manzini
    Manzini District
    Manzini is a district of Swaziland, located in the center-west of the country. It has an area of 5,068 km² and a population of 292,000 , and is divided into 16 tinkhundla. Its administrative center is Manzini. It borders all three other districts: Hhohho in the north, Lubombo in the east, and...

  • Shiselweni


Each district is further divided into tinkhundla
Tinkhundla
In Swaziland, an inkhundla is an administrative subdivision smaller than a district, but larger than an umphakatsi...

. There are 55 tinkhundla in Swaziland and each elects one representative to the House of Assembly of Swaziland
House of Assembly of Swaziland
The House of Assembly of Swaziland is the lower chamber of the country's bicameral Parliament.There are a total of 55 single-member constituencies corresponding to the tinkhundlas . 14 tinkhundlas are located in Hhohho District, 11 in Lubombo District, 16 in Manzini District, and 14 in Shiselweni...

.

Geography

Swaziland lies across a geological fault which runs from the Drakensberg
Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba , and in Sesotho as Maluti...

 Mountains of Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

, north through the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, forms the Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...

 of Kenya and, eventually, peters out in present-day Turkey.
A small, land-locked Kingdom, Swaziland is bordered in the North, West and South by the Republic of South Africa and by Mozambique in the East. Although Swaziland has a land area of only 17,364 km2, roughly the size of Wales
Size of Wales
The Size of Wales is a unique project that aims to conserve an area of tropical rainforest the size of Wales. The project currently supports fourteen forest projects worldwide and links them to supporters in Wales. Size of Wales encourages people to support rainforest conservation as a national...

 or the American State of New Jersey, it contains four separate geographical regions. These run from North to South and are determined by altitude.

Swaziland is located at approximately 26°30'S, 31°30'E. Swaziland also offers a wide variety of landscapes, from the mountains along the Mozambican border to savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

s in the east and rain forest in the northwest. Several rivers flow through the country, such as the Great Usuthu River.

Along the eastern border with Mozambique is the Lubombo, a mountain ridge, at an altitude of around 600 meters. The mountains are broken by the canyon
Canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

s of three rivers, the Ngwavuma, the Usutu
Maputo River
The Maputo River , also called Great Usutu River, Lusutfu River or Suthu River, is a river in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. The name Suthu refers to Basotho people who lived near the source of the river, who were attacked and displaced by Swazis...

 and the Mbuluzi. This is cattle ranching country.

The western border of the country, with an average altitude of 1200 meters, lies on the edge of an escarpment
Escarpment
An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from erosion or faulting and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.-Description and variants:...

. Between the mountains rivers rush through deep gorges making this a most scenic region. Mbabane, the capital, is located on the Highveld.

The Middleveld, lying at an average 700 meters above sea level is the most densely populated region of Swaziland with a lower rainfall than the mountains. Manzini, the principal commercial and industrial city, is situated in the Middleveld.

The Lowveld of Swaziland, at around 250 meters, is less populated than other areas and presents a typical African bush country of thorn trees and grasslands. Development of the region was inhibited, in early days, by the scourge of malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

.

Climate


The seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere with December being mid-summer and June mid-winter. Generally speaking, rain falls mostly during the summer months, often in the form of thunderstorms. Winter is the dry season. Annual rainfall is highest on the Highveld in the West, between 1000 and 2000 mm (39.4 and 78.7 in) depending on the year. The further East, the less rain, with the Lowveld recording 500 to 900 mm (19.7 to 35.4 in) per annum. Variations in temperature are also related to the altitude of the different regions. The Highveld temperature is temperate and, seldom, uncomfortably hot while the Lowveld may record temperatures around 40 °C (104 °F) in summer.

The average temperatures at Mbabane, according to seasons:
Spring September – October 18 °C (64.4 °F)
Summer November – March 20 °C (68 °F)
Autumn April – May 17 °C (62.6 °F)
Winter June – August 13 °C (55.4 °F)

Economy

Swaziland’s economy is diversified, with agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, forestry
Forestry
Forestry is the interdisciplinary profession embracing the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands...

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

Economic growth in Swaziland has lagged behind that of its neighbors. Real GDP growth since 2001 has averaged 2.8%, nearly 2 percentage points lower than growth in other Southern African Customs Union
Southern African Customs Union
The Southern African Customs Union is a customs union among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.-History:SACU is the oldest still existing customs union in the world...

 (SACU
Sacu
Sacu is a commune in Caraş-Severin County, western Romania with a population of 1681 people. It is composed of three villages: Sacu, Sălbăgelu Nou and Tincova.-References:...

) member countries. Low agricultural productivity in the SNLs, repeated droughts, the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS and an overly large and inefficient government sector are likely contributing factors. Swaziland’s public finances deteriorated in the late 1990s following sizable surpluses a decade earlier. A combination of declining revenues and increased spending led to significant budget deficits.

The considerable spending did not lead to more growth and did not benefit the poor. Much of the increased spending has gone to current expenditures related to wages, transfers, and subsidies. The wage bill today constitutes over 15% of GDP and 55% of total public spending; these are some of the highest levels on the African continent. The recent rapid growth in SACU revenues has, however, reversed the fiscal situation, and a sizable surplus was recorded since 2006. SACU
Sacu
Sacu is a commune in Caraş-Severin County, western Romania with a population of 1681 people. It is composed of three villages: Sacu, Sălbăgelu Nou and Tincova.-References:...

 revenues today account for over 60% of total government revenues. On the positive side, the external debt burden has declined markedly over the last 20 years, and domestic debt is almost negligible; external debt as a percent of GDP was less than 20% in 2006.

The Swazi economy is very closely linked to the South African economy, from which it receives over 90% of its imports and to which it sends about 70% of its exports. Swaziland’s other key trading partners are the United States and the EU, from whom the country has received trade preferences for apparel exports (under the African Growth and Opportunity Act
African Growth and Opportunity Act
In May 2000, the U.S. Congress approved legislation known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA . The purpose of this legislation was to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region...

 – AGOA – to the US) and for sugar (to the EU). Under these agreements, both apparel and sugar exports did well, with rapid growth and a strong inflow of foreign direct investment. Textile exports grew by over 200% between 2000 and 2005 and sugar exports increasing by more than 50% over the same period.

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

Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand
South African rand
The rand is the currency of South Africa. It takes its name from the Witwatersrand , the ridge upon which Johannesburg is built and where most of South Africa's gold deposits were found. The rand has the symbol "R" and is subdivided into 100 cents, symbol "c"...

, subsuming Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union, which may equal as much as 70% of government revenue this year, and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income. Swaziland is not poor enough to merit an IMF program; however, the country is struggling to reduce the size of the civil service and control costs at public enterprises. The government is trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment or foreign investment refers to the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor.. It is the sum of equity capital,other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in...

.

Health

Swaziland is critically affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic
HIV/AIDS in Swaziland
-Prevalence:HIV/AIDS remains one of the major challenges to Swaziland’s socioeconomic development. The epidemic has spread relentlessly in all the parts of the country since the first reported case in 1986....

, which is now an existential threat to its society. As reported in the 2009 CIA World Factbook, Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world (26% of all adults; more in other reports) and also the lowest life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 at 32 years, which is 6 years lower than the next lowest average of Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

. From another perspective, the last available World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 data in 2002 shows that 64% of all deaths in the country were caused by HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

/AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

. In 2009, an estimated 7,000 people died from AIDS-related causes. On a total population of approximately 1,185,000 this implies that AIDS kills an estimated 0.6% of the population every year. Chronic illnesses that are the most prolific causes of death in the developed world accounting only for a minute fraction of deaths in Swaziland; for example, heart disease, strokes, and cancer cause fewer than 5% of deaths in Swaziland in total, compared to 55% of all deaths yearly in the US.

In 2004, Swaziland acknowledged for the first time that it suffered an AIDS crisis, with 38.8% of tested pregnant women infected with HIV (see AIDS in Africa). Prime Minister Themba Dlamini
Themba Dlamini
Absalom Themba Dlamini was the Prime Minister of Swaziland from November 2003 to September 2008. He is the managing director of Tibiyo TakaNgwane.- External links :* Sibongule Sukati, Times of Swaziland October 13, 2010, Retrieved 27 October 2010...

 declared a humanitarian crisis due to the combined effect of drought, land degradation
Land degradation
Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by one or more combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land....

, increased poverty, and HIV/AIDS. Life expectancy has fallen from 61 years in 2000 to 32 years in 2009. Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 is also a significant problem, with an 18% mortality rate. Many patients have a multi-drug resistant strain, and 83% are co-infected with HIV.

Public expenditure was at 4% of the GDP of the country, whereas private expenditure was at 2.3%. There were 16 physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s. Infant mortality was at 69 per 1,000 in 2005, with the WHO showing that 47% of all deaths under 5 are caused by HIV/AIDS.

Culture

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

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

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

The Sangoma
Sangoma
A sangoma is a practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counselling in traditional Nguni societies of Southern Africa .The philosophy is based on a belief in ancestral spirits...

 is a traditional diviner chosen by the ancestors of that particular family. The training of the Sangoma is called "kwetfwasa". At the end of the training, a graduation ceremony takes place where all the local sangoma come together for feasting and dancing. The diviner is consulted for various reasons, such the cause of sickness or even death. His diagnosis is based on "kubhula", a process of communication, through trance, with the natural super-powers. The Inyanga
Inyanga
Inyanga is a Zulu word for a traditional herbal healer.An inyanga is a traditional South African herbalist, herb doctor, or medicine man or woman. The Southern African word inyanga is related to the Central African nganga, meaning a priest and medicine man...

 (a medical and pharmaceutical specialist in western terms) possesses the bone throwing skill ("kushaya ematsambo") used to determine the cause of the sickness.

The most important cultural event in Swaziland is the Incwala
Incwala
The Ncwala , also known as 'Festival of the First Fruits,' is an important Swazi religious ritual that takes place in the latter half of December, and continues into January of the successive year. It is an annual ceremony lasting three weeks that unites the inhabitants of Swaziland in order to...

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

Every Swazi may take part in the public parts of the Incwala. The climax of the event is the fourth day of the Big Incwala. The key figures are the King, Queen Mother, royal wives and children, the royal governors (induna
InDuna
InDuna is a Zulu title meaning advisor, great leader, ambassador, headman, or commander of group of warriors. It can also mean spokesperson or mediator as the izinDuna often acted as a bridge between the people and the king...

s), the chiefs, the regiments, and the "bemanti" or "water people".

Swaziland's most well-known cultural event is the annual Reed Dance
Umhlanga
Umhlanga, or Reed Dance ceremony, is an annual Swazi and Zulu tradition held in August or September. Tens of thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi/Zulu girls and women travel from their villages to participate in the eight-day event...

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

Today's Reed Dance is not an ancient ceremony, but developed out of the old "umchwasho
Umchwasho
Umchwasho is a traditional chastity rite in Swaziland. While the rite is active, unmarried women are not allowed to have sexual relations and must wear a traditional set of tassels. The tassels are usually made of wool and are worn around the neck like a scarf. Girls aged 18 and under must wear...

" custom. In "umchwasho", all young girls were placed in a female age-regiment. If any girl fell pregnant outside of marriage, her family paid a fine of one cow to the local chief. After a number of years, when the girls had reached a marriageable age, they would perform labour service for the Queen Mother, ending with dancing and feasting. The country was under the chastity
Sexual abstinence
Sexual abstinence is the practice of refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity for medical, psychological, legal, social, philosophical or religious reasons.Common reasons for practicing sexual abstinence include:*poor health - medical celibacy...

 rite
Rite
A rite is an established, ceremonious, usually religious act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:* rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, baptism, or graduation....

 of "umchwasho" until 19 August 2005.

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

Education

Education in Swaziland is now free at primary level mainly 1st and 2nd grades and also free for orphaned and vulnerable children but not compulsory. In 1996, the net primary school enrollment rate was 90.8%, with gender parity at the primary level. In 1998, 80.5% of children reached grade five. The University of Swaziland
University of Swaziland
The University of Swaziland developed from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland , formerly known as the University of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland , which had its headquarters in Lesotho between 1964 and 1975. It eventually became the University of Botswana and Swaziland in...

 provides higher education. The Swaziland National Library Service operates public community libraries throughout Swaziland and establishes school libraries in partnership with Fundza, a non-governmental organization and the African Library Project
African Library Project
The African Library Project is an all-volunteer organization that starts libraries in rural Africa. U.S. volunteers organize book drives and ship books to a library in Africa. ALP partners with governmental and non-governmental organizations in sub-Saharan Africa...

.

Demographics

The majority of Swaziland's population is ethnically Swazi, mixed with a small number of Zulu and White Africans, mostly people of British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 and Afrikaner
Afrikaner
Afrikaners are an ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from almost equal numbers of Dutch, French and German settlers whose native tongue is Afrikaans: a Germanic language which derives primarily from 17th century Dutch, and a variety of other languages.-Related ethno-linguistic groups:The...

 descent. Traditionally Swazi have been subsistence farmers and herders, but most now mix such activities with work in the growing urban formal economy and in government. Some Swazi work in the mines in South Africa.

Swaziland also received Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 settlers and African refugees from Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

. Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 in Swaziland is sometimes mixed with traditional beliefs and practices. Many traditionalists believe that most Swazi ascribe a special spiritual role to the monarch. Residents of Swaziland have the lowest documented life expectancy in the world at 31.88 years, less than half the world average of 69.4.

Languages

SiSwati (also known as Swati, Swazi or Seswati) is a Bantu language
Bantu languages
The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages...

 of the Nguni Group, spoken in Swaziland and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. It has 2.5 million speakers and is taught in schools. It is an official language of Swaziland (along with English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

) and one of the official languages of South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

.

About 76,000 people in the country speak Zulu
Zulu language
Zulu is the language of the Zulu people with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa as well as being understood by over 50% of the population...

. Tsonga, which is spoken by many people throughout the region is spoken by about 19,000 people in Swaziland. Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

 is also spoken by some residents of Afrikaner
Afrikaner
Afrikaners are an ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from almost equal numbers of Dutch, French and German settlers whose native tongue is Afrikaans: a Germanic language which derives primarily from 17th century Dutch, and a variety of other languages.-Related ethno-linguistic groups:The...

 descent.

Religions

The most common religion in Swaziland is Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 which totals 82.70% of the total population, in which various Protestant and indigenous African churches, including African Zionist, constitute the majority of the Christians, followed closely by Roman Catholicism. There are also non-Christian religions practiced in the country such as Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 (0.95%), the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 (0.5%), and Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 (0.15%).

See also

  • Commonwealth of Nations
    Commonwealth of Nations
    The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

  • Transport in Swaziland
    Transport in Swaziland
    Public transport is the main means of transportation in Swaziland. Car ownership is low, at 32 cars per 1,000 people. The National Road Network has 1500km of main roads and 2270km of district roads.- Railways :total:...



External links

Government

General
  • Swaziland from UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Swazi Live Swaziland accommodation and business directory


Tourism

Other
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