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Eswatini Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Eswatini Map

Introduction

Background

Autonomy for Eswatini was guaranteed by the British in the late 19th century; independence was granted in 1968. A new constitution came into effect in 2006, which included provisions for a more independent parliament and judiciary, but the legal status of political parties remains unclear. King MSWATI III renamed the country from Swaziland to Eswatini in April 2018. Despite its classification as a lower-middle income country, Eswatini suffers from severe poverty and high unemployment. Eswatini has the world's highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, although recent years have shown marked declines in new infections. 

Geography

Location

Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa

Geographic coordinates

26 30 S, 31 30 E

Map references

Africa

Area

total: 17,364 sq km

land:17,204 sq km

water:160 sq km

country comparison to the world: 158

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries

total: 546 km

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

highest point: Emlembe 1,862 m

lowest point:Great Usutu River 21 m

mean elevation:305 m

Natural resources

asbestos, coal, clay, cassiterite, hydropower, forests, small gold and diamond deposits, quarry stone, and talc

Land use

agricultural land: 68.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 9.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 57.7% (2018 est.)

forest:31.7% (2018 est.)

other:0% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

500 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

4.51 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

because of its mountainous terrain, the population distribution is uneven throughout the country, concentrating primarily in valleys and plains as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

drought

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified:none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

landlocked; almost completely surrounded by South Africa

People and Society

Population

1,113,276 (July 2021 est.)

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

country comparison to the world: 160

Nationality

noun: liSwati (singular), emaSwati (plural); note - former term, Swazi(s), still used among English speakers

adjective:Swati; note - former term, Swazi, still used among English speakers

Ethnic groups

predominantly Swazi; smaller populations of other African ethnic groups, including the Zulu, as well as people of European ancestry

Languages

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

Religions

Christian 90% (Zionist - a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship - 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, other 30% - includes Anglican, Methodist, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness), Muslim 2%, other 8% (includes Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, indigenous, Jewish) (2015 est.)

Demographic profile

Eswatini, a small, predominantly rural, landlocked country surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique, suffers from severe poverty and the world’s highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate. A weak and deteriorating economy, high unemployment, rapid population growth, and an uneven distribution of resources all combine to worsen already persistent poverty and food insecurity, especially in rural areas. Erratic weather (frequent droughts and intermittent heavy rains and flooding), overuse of small plots, the overgrazing of cattle, and outdated agricultural practices reduce crop yields and further degrade the environment, exacerbating Eswatini's poverty and subsistence problems. Eswatini's extremely high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate – more than 28% of adults have the disease – compounds these issues. Agricultural production has declined due to HIV/AIDS, as the illness causes households to lose manpower and to sell livestock and other assets to pay for medicine and funerals.

Swazis, mainly men from the country’s rural south, have been migrating to South Africa to work in coal, and later gold, mines since the late 19th century. Although the number of miners abroad has never been high in absolute terms because of Eswatini's small population, the outflow has had important social and economic repercussions. The peak of mining employment in South Africa occurred during the 1980s. Cross-border movement has accelerated since the 1990s, as increasing unemployment has pushed more Swazis to look for work in South Africa (creating a "brain drain" in the health and educational sectors); southern Swazi men have continued to pursue mining, although the industry has downsized. Women now make up an increasing share of migrants and dominate cross-border trading in handicrafts, using the proceeds to purchase goods back in Eswatini. Much of today’s migration, however, is not work-related but focuses on visits to family and friends, tourism, and shopping.

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Eswatini

conventional short form:Eswatini

local long form:Umbuso weSwatini

local short form:eSwatini

former:Swaziland

etymology:the country name derives from 19th century King MSWATI II, under whose rule Swati territory was expanded and unified

note: pronounced ay-swatini or eh-swatini

Government type

absolute monarchy

Capital

name: Mbabane (administrative capital); Lobamba (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)

etymology: named after a Swati chief, Mbabane Kunene, who lived in the area at the onset of British settlement

Administrative divisions

4 regions; Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini, Shiselweni

Independence

6 September 1968 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day (Somhlolo Day), 6 September (1968)

Constitution

history: previous 1968, 1978; latest signed by the king 26 July 2005, effective 8 February 2006

amendments:proposed at a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament; passage requires majority vote by both houses and/or majority vote in a referendum, and assent of the king; passage of amendments affecting "specially entrenched" constitutional provisions requires at least three-fourths majority vote by both houses, passage by simple majority vote in a referendum, and assent of the king; passage of "entrenched" provisions requires at least two-thirds majority vote of both houses, passage in a referendum, and assent of the king

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

citizenship by birth: no

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

dual citizenship recognized:no

residency requirement for naturalization:5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age

Executive branch

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

head of government:Prime Minister Cleopas DLAMINI (since since 19 July 2021); Deputy Prime Minister Themba MASUKU (since 6 November 2018)

cabinet:Cabinet recommended by the prime minister, confirmed by the monarch; at least one-half of the cabinet membership must be appointed from among elected members of the House of Assembly

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

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament (Libandla) consists of:

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)
House of Assembly (73 seats; 59 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies or tinkhundla by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed, 10 members appointed by the monarch, 4 women elected by the members if representation of elected women is less than 30%; members serve 5-year terms)



elections:Senate - last held on 23 October 2018 (next to be held - 31 October 2023)
House of Assembly - last held on 21 September 2018 (next to be held in 2023)

election results:Senate - percent of seats by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 20, women 10, percent of women 33.3% 
House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independent 59; composition - men 60, women 5, percent of women 7.7%; note - total Parliament percent of women 15.8%

Judicial branch

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

judge selection and term of office:justices of the Supreme Court and High Court appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), a judicial advisory body consisting of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, 4 members appointed by the monarch, and the chairman of the Civil Service Commission; justices of both courts eligible for retirement at age 65 with mandatory retirement at age 75

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

Political parties and leaders

political parties exist, but conditions for their operations, particularly in elections, are undefined, legally unclear, or culturally restricted; the following are considered political associations:
African United Democratic Party or AUDP [Sibusiso DLAMINI]
Ngwane National Liberatory Congress or NNLC [Dr. Alvit DLAMINI]
People's United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO [Mario MASUKU]
Swazi Democratic Party or SWADEPA [Jan SITHOLE]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, C, COMESA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PCA, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Njabuliso Busisiwe Sikhulile GWEBU (since 24 April 2017)

chancery:1712 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009

telephone:[1] (202) 234-5002

FAX:[1] (202) 234-8254

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Jeanne M. MALONEY (since 4 March 2021)

embassy:Corner of MR 103 and Cultural Center Drive, Ezulwini, P.O. Box D202, The Gables, H106

mailing address:2350 Mbabane Place, Washington DC  20521-2350

telephone:(268) 2417-9000

FAX:[268] 2416-3344

email address and website:ConsularMbabane@state.gov

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

Economic overview

A small, landlocked kingdom, Eswatini is bordered in the north, west and south by the Republic of South Africa and by Mozambique in the east. Eswatini depends on South Africa for a majority of its exports and imports. Eswatini's currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively relinquishing Eswatini's monetary policy to South Africa. The government is dependent on customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) for almost half of its revenue. Eswatini is a lower middle income country. As of 2017, more than one-quarter of the adult population was infected by HIV/AIDS; Eswatini has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate, a financial strain and source of economic instability.

The manufacturing sector diversified in the 1980s and 1990s, but manufacturing has grown little in the last decade. Sugar and soft drink concentrate are the largest foreign exchange earners, although a drought in 2015-16 decreased sugar production and exports. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods are persistent problems. 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 28% unemployment rate, Eswatini's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and to attract foreign direct investment is acute.

Eswatini's national development strategy, which expires in 2022, prioritizes increases in infrastructure, agriculture production, and economic diversification, while aiming to reduce poverty and government spending. Eswatini's revenue from SACU receipts are likely to continue to decline as South Africa pushes for a new distribution scheme, making it harder for the government to maintain fiscal balance without introducing new sources of revenue.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 40,003

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:3.65 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 1,025,061

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:93.53 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: earlier government monopoly in telecom market hindered growth; liberalized regulators aided expansion in the telecom sector; lack of fixed-line infrastructure and competition stymies development of DSL and backbone network; 2G, 3G, 4G, and LTE services with coverage to most of the population; landlocked country depends on neighbors for international bandwidth; operator completed terrestrial cable linking Maputo through Eswatini to Johannesburg; importer of broadcasting equipment from South Africa (2020) (2019)

domestic:Eswatini has 2 mobile-cellular providers; communication infrastructure has a geographic coverage of about 90% and a rising subscriber base; fixed-line stands at 4 per 100 and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 94 telephones per 100 persons; telephone system consists of carrier-equipped, open-wire lines and low-capacity, microwave radio relay (2019)

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

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

1 state-owned TV station; satellite dishes are able to access South African providers; state-owned radio network with 3 channels; 1 private radio station (2019)

Internet country code

.sz

Internet users

total: 510,984

percent of population:47% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 7,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:less than 1 (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 177

Transportation

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

3DC

Airports

total: 14 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 148

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2 (2019)

over 3,047 m:1

2,438 to 3,047 m:1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 12 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m:5 (2013)

under 914 m:7 (2013)

Railways

total: 301 km (2014)

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

country comparison to the world: 122

Roadways

total: 3,769 km (2019)

country comparison to the world: 157

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force (UEDF): Army (includes a small air wing) (2020)

Military expenditures

1.8% of GDP (2019 est.)

1.9% of GDP (2018 est.)

1.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

2% of GDP (2016 est.)

1.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 69

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force has approximately 3,000 active personnel (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the UEDF is lightly armed with mostly South African weapons and equipment; the only publicly recorded military acquisitions since 2010 were two secondhand utility helicopters from Taiwan that were delivered in 2020 (2021)

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 (2019)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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

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