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Autonomy for the Swazis of southern Africa was guaranteed by the British in the late 19th century; independence was granted in 1968. Student and labor unrest during the 1990s pressured King MSWATI III, Africa's last absolute monarch, to grudgingly allow political reform and greater democracy, although he has backslid on these promises in recent years. A constitution came into effect in 2006, but the legal status of political parties was not defined and their status remains unclear. Swaziland has surpassed Botswana as the country with the world's highest known HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.



Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa

Geographic coordinates

26.30° S, 31.30° E

Area 159/257

total: 17,364 sq km

land: 17,204 sq km

water: 160 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries

total: 546 km

border countries (2): Mozambique 108 km, South Africa 438 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


varies from tropical to near temperate


mostly mountains and hills; some moderately sloping plains


mean elevation:

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

agricultural land: 68.3%

arable land 9.8%; permanent crops 0.8%; permanent pasture 57.7%

forest: 31.7%

other: 0% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

498.5 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources

4.51 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 1.04 cu km/yr (4%/2%/94%)

per capita: 962.1 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues

limited supplies of potable water; wildlife populations being depleted because of excessive hunting; overgrazing; soil degradation; soil erosion

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note

landlocked; almost completely surrounded by South Africa

People and Society


noun: Swazi(s)

adjective: Swazi

Ethnic groups

African 97%, European 3%


English (official, used for government business), siSwati (official)


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

Population 155/238


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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 35.99% (male 261,213/female 255,489)

15-24 years: 22.26% (male 161,626/female 157,990)

25-54 years: 33.64% (male 249,233/female 233,703)

55-64 years: 4.26% (male 24,229/female 36,968)

65 years and over: 3.84% (male 21,582/female 33,580) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 69.3%

youth dependency ratio: 63.2%

elderly dependency ratio: 6.1%

potential support ratio: 16.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 21.2 years

male: 21 years

female: 21.5 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 111/233

1.11% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 55/224

24.67 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 14/225

13.56 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 82/222

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 21.3% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.32% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MBABANE (capital) 66,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.66 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth


note: median age at first birth among women 20-24 (2006/07 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 36/184

389 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 33/224

total: 52.57 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 56.49 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 48.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 221/224

total population: 51.05 years

male: 51.6 years

female: 50.5 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 63/224

2.8 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

65.2% (2010)

Health expenditures 49/191

8.4% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.17 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

2.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source


urban: 93.6% of population

rural: 68.9% of population

total: 74.1% of population


urban: 6.4% of population

rural: 31.1% of population

total: 25.9% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 63.1% of population

rural: 56% of population

total: 57.5% of population


urban: 36.9% of population

rural: 44% of population

total: 42.5% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

27.73% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

214,300 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

3,500 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 98/191

14.8% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 84/138

5.8% (2010)

Education expenditures 12/173

7.8% of GDP (2011)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 12 years

female: 11 years (2011)


Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Swaziland

conventional short form: Swaziland

local long form: Umbuso weSwatini

local short form: eSwatini

Government type



name: Mbabane; note - Lobamba is the royal and legislative capital

geographic coordinates: 26.19° S, 31.08° E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

4 districts; Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini, Shiselweni


6 September 1968 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 6 September (1968)


previous 1968, 1978; latest signed by the king 26 July 2005, effective 8 February 2006 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil, common, and customary law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: both parents must be citizens of Swaziland

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age

Executive branch

chief of state: King MSWATI III (since 25 April 1986)

head of government: Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso DLAMINI (since 23 October 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Themba Nhlanganiso MASUKU (since 2008)

cabinet: Cabinet recommended by the prime minister, confirmed by the monarch

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch from among elected members of the House of Assembly

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Libandla consists of the Senate (30 seats; 20 members appointed by the monarch and 10 indirectly elected by simple majority vote by the House of Assembly; members serve 5-year terms) and the House of Assembly (65 seats; 55 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 10 members appointed by the monarch; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: House of Assembly - last held on 20 September 2013 (next scheduled for September 2018)

election results: House of Assembly - no results of the election were released; note - balloting is done on a nonparty basis; 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

highest court(s): the Supreme Court of the Judicature comprising the Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and at least 5 justices) and the High Court (consists of the chief justice - ex officio - and at least 4 justices); note - the Supreme Court has jurisdiction in all constitutional matters

judge selection and term of office: justices of the Supreme Court of the Judicature are appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission or JCS, a judicial advisory body consisting of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, 4 members appointed by the monarch, and the JCS head; justices of both courts eligible for retirement at age 65 with mandatory retirement at age 75 for Supreme Court justices and at age 70 for High Court justices

subordinate courts: magistrates' courts; National Swazi Courts for administering customary/traditional laws (jurisdiction restricted to customary law for Swazi citizens)

note: the national constitution as amended in 2006 shifted judicial power from the monarch and vested it exclusively in the judiciary

Political parties and leaders

the status of political parties, previously banned, is unclear under the 2006 Constitution; the following are considered political associations:

African United Democratic Party or AUDP [Stanley MAUNDZISA]

Ngwane National Liberatory Congress or NNLC [Alvit DLAMINI]

People's United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO [Mario MASUKU]

Swaziland Democratic Party ro SWADEPA [Jan SITHOLE]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions

Swaziland Solidarity Network or SSN

International organization participation


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; blue stands for peace and stability, red represents past struggles, and yellow the mineral resources of the country; the shield, spears, and staff symbolize protection from the country's enemies, while the black and white of the shield are meant to portray black and white people living in peaceful coexistence

National symbol(s)

lion, elephant; national colors: blue, yellow, red

National anthem

name: "Nkulunkulu Mnikati wetibusiso temaSwati" (Oh God, Bestower of the Blessings of the Swazi)

lyrics/music: Andrease Enoke Fanyana SIMELANE/David Kenneth RYCROFT

note: adopted 1968; uses elements of both ethnic Swazi and Western music styles


Economy - overview

Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland depends heavily on South Africa and for 60% of its exports and for more than 90% of its imports. Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively relinquishing Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. The government is heavily dependent on customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and worker remittances from South Africa supplement domestically earned income. Swaziland’s GDP per capita makes it a lower middle income country, but its income distribution is highly skewed, with an estimated 20% of the population controlling 80% of the nation’s wealth. As of 2013 more than one-quarter of the adult population was infected by HIV/AIDS; Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate.

Subsistence agriculture employs approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector diversified in the 1980s and 1990s, but manufacturing has grown little in the last decade. Sugar and wood pulp had been major foreign exchange earners until the wood pulp producer closed in January 2010, and sugar is now the main export earner. Mining has declined in importance in recent years. Coal, gold, diamond, and quarry stone mines are small-scale, and the only iron ore mine closed in 2014.

With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and to attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods are persistent problems. On 1 January 2015, Swaziland lost its eligibility for benefits under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

The IMF forecasted that Swaziland’s economy will grow at a slower pace in 2016/2017 because of a region-wide drought, which is likely to hurt Swaziland’s revenue from sugar exports and other agricultural products, and a decline in the tourism and transport sectors. Swaziland’s revenue from SACU receipts also will decline in 2016/2017, making it harder to maintain fiscal balance.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 156/230

$10.87 billion (2015 est.)

$10.67 billion (2014 est.)

$10.41 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.305 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 148/225

1.9% (2015 est.)

2.5% (2014 est.)

2.9% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 137/230

$9,800 (2015 est.)

$9,600 (2014 est.)

$9,400 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 143/179

11.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

12.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

12.9% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 78.7%

government consumption: 24%

investment in fixed capital: 11.6%

investment in inventories: -0.1%

exports of goods and services: 50.7%

imports of goods and services: -64.9%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 11.9%

industry: 46.6%

services: 41.5% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts; cattle, goats, sheep


coal, forestry, sugar, soft drink concentrates, textiles and apparel

Industrial production growth rate 142/202

1.1% (2015 est.)

Labor force 158/233

446,100 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 70%

industry: NA%

services: NA%

Unemployment rate 195/207

40% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line

69% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%

highest 10%: 40.1% (2010 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 19/144

50.4 (2001)


revenues: $1.153 billion

expenditures: $1.264 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 105/219

26.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 95/220

-2.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 175/226

5.1% (2015 est.)

5.7% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 56/156

6.5% (31 December 2010)

6.5% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 100/184

8.7% (31 December 2015 est.)

8.63% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 174/192

$317.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$367.8 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 173/193

$825.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.008 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 166/191

$562.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$685 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$203.1 million (31 December 2007)

$199.9 million (31 December 2006)

Current account balance 51/197

$47 million (2015 est.)

$128 million (2014 est.)

Exports 148/224

$1.575 billion (2015 est.)

$1.803 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

soft drink concentrates, sugar, timber, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus and canned fruit

Imports 170/223

$1.581 billion (2015 est.)

$1.687 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 146/170

$572.3 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$690.8 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 176/206

$561.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$463.6 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

Exchange rates

emalangeni per US dollar -

12.58 (2015 est.)

10.85 (2014 est.)

10.85 (2013 est.)

8.2 (2012 est.)

7.26 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 164/220

425 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 150/219

1.295 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 217/218

0 kWh (2013)

Electricity - imports 65/219

900 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 165/214

149,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 135/214

59.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 211/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 60/214

40.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 146/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 212/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 212/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 150/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 213/215

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 149/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 172/212

4,800 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 149/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 164/213

4,785 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 150/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 213/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 213/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 83/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 210/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 167/212

936,900 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 166/219

total subscriptions: 44,400

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 160/217

total: 916,800

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 65 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: a somewhat modern but not an advanced system

domestic: single source for mobile-cellular service with a geographic coverage of about 90% and a rising subscribership base; combined fixed-line and mobile cellular teledensity roughly 60 telephones per 100 persons in 2011; telephone system consists of carrier-equipped, open-wire lines and low-capacity, microwave radio relay

international: country code - 268; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)

Broadcast media

state-owned TV station; satellite dishes are able to access South African providers; state-owned radio network with 3 channels; 1 private radio station (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 3, FM 2 (plus 4 repeaters), shortwave 3 (2004)

Television broadcast stations

12 (includes 7 relay stations) (2004)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 158/232

2,744 (2012)

Internet users 137/217

total: 337,300

percent of population: 23.8% (2014 est.)


Airports 149/236

14 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 12

914 to 1,523 m: 5

under 914 m: 7 (2013)

Railways 121/136

total: 301 km

narrow gauge: 301 km 1.067-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 161/223

total: 3,594 km

paved: 1,078 km

unpaved: 2,516 km (2002)

Military and Security

Military branches

Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force (USDF): Ground Force (includes Air Wing (no operational aircraft)) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; no conscription; compulsory HIV testing required, only HIV-negative applicants accepted (2012)

Military expenditures 18/132

3.17% of GDP (2012)

3.11% of GDP (2011)

3.17% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

in 2006, Swazi king advocated resorting to ICJ to claim parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from South Africa