Photos of Eswatini

Introduction

Background

A Swazi kingdom was founded in the mid-18th century and ruled by a series of kings including MSWATI II, a 19th century ruler whose appellation was adopted to become the name of the country and its predominant ethnic group. The kingdom’s modern borders were defined by European countries during the late-19th century and Swaziland (as it became known) was administered as a UK high commission territory from 1903 until its independence in 1968. A new constitution came into effect in 2005, which included provisions for a more independent parliament and judiciary, but the legal status of political parties remains unclear, and the kingdom is still considered an absolute monarchy. King MSWATI III renamed the country from Swaziland to Eswatini in 2018 to reflect the name most commonly used by its citizens. In 2021, MSWATI III used security forces to suppress prodemocracy protests. A national dialogue and reconciliation process agreed to in the wake of violence has not materialized. In November 2023, King MSWATI III appointed a new Prime Minister following peaceful national elections.  Despite its classification as a lower-middle income country, Eswatini suffers from severe poverty, corruption, and high unemployment. Eswatini has the world's highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, although recent years have shown marked declines in new infections. Eswatini is the only country in Africa that recognizes Taiwan.

 

 

 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa

Geographic coordinates

26 30 S, 31 30 E

Area

total: 17,364 sq km

land: 17,204 sq km

water: 160 sq km

comparison ranking: total 158

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

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)

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

Geography - note

landlocked; almost completely surrounded by South Africa

People and Society

Population

1,130,043 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 161

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 traditional African religions - 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, other Christian 30% - includes Anglican, Methodist, Church of Jesus Christ, 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 – nearly 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.

Age structure

0-14 years: 32.16% (male 181,886/female 181,491)

15-64 years: 63.88% (male 336,243/female 385,599)

65 years and over: 3.97% (2023 est.) (male 16,654/female 28,170)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 64

youth dependency ratio: 57.4

elderly dependency ratio: 6.5

potential support ratio: 15.3 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 24.4 years (2023 est.)

male: 23.1 years

female: 25.5 years

comparison ranking: total 173

Population growth rate

0.72% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 125

Birth rate

22.8 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 51

Death rate

9.5 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 46

Net migration rate

-6.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 211

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

Urbanization

urban population: 24.8% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.42% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

68,000 MBABANE (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.59 male(s)/female

total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

437 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 22

Infant mortality rate

total: 38.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 42.3 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 33.9 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 33

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 60.2 years (2023 est.)

male: 58.2 years

female: 62.3 years

comparison ranking: total population 219

Total fertility rate

2.41 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 73

Gross reproduction rate

1.19 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97.5% of population

rural: 74.8% of population

total: 80.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.5% of population

rural: 25.2% of population

total: 19.7% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

6.5% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.14 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

2.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 92.3% of population

rural: 83.9% of population

total: 85.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 7.7% of population

rural: 16.1% of population

total: 14.1% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: sexually transmitted diseases: HIV/ADIS, hepatitis B (2024)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

16.5% (2016)

comparison ranking: 124

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 7.68 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 2.45 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.06 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 5.17 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 50

Tobacco use

total: 9.2% (2020 est.)

male: 16.5% (2020 est.)

female: 1.8% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 138

Education expenditures

5% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 75

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 88.4%

male: 88.3%

female: 88.5% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 12 years (2013)

Environment

Environment - current issues

limited supplies of potable water; wildlife populations being depleted because of excessive hunting; population growth, deforestation, and overgrazing lead to soil erosion and soil degradation

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

Climate

varies from tropical to near temperate

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.)

Urbanization

urban population: 24.8% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.42% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to higher staple food prices - the price of maize meal, the key food staple, increased in the first five months of 2022 and, as of May 2022, were 3 percent higher on a yearly basis; wheat flour prices were also at record highs in May 2022; this mainly reflects the elevated global prices and the country’s high dependence on imported wheat to satisfy national consumption needs (2022)

Revenue from forest resources

2.25% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 30

Revenue from coal

0.1% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 26

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 15.07 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.16 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 1.9 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 218,199 tons (2016 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 40 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 20 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 1.01 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

4.51 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

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 Russell Mmiso DLAMINI (since 3 November 2023)

 



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 (70 seats statutory, current 69; 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, one each representing each region, elected by the members if representation of elected women is less than 30%, and 1 ex-officio member - the attorney general; members serve 5-year terms)


elections:

Senate - last election held on 12 October 2023 , senate fully constituted on November 5 when monarch appointed remaining 20 senators; (next to be held in 2028)

House of Assembly - last held on 29 September 2023 (next to be held in 2028)

 



election results:

Senate - percent of seats by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 17, women 13, percent of women 43%
House of Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independent 59; composition - men 58, women 12, percent of women 17.14%; note - total Parliament percent of women 4.1%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): 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 [Stanley S. MALINDZISA]
Ngwane National Liberatory Congress or NNLC [Sibongile MAZIBUKO]
People's United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO [Mlungisi MAKHANYA]
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 Kennedy Fitzgerald GROENING (7 June 2022)

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

telephone: [1] (202) 234-5002

FAX: [1] (202) 234-8254

email address and website:
embassy@eswatini-usa.com; swaziland@compuserve.com

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant) Chargé d’Affaires Caitlin PIPER (since 27 October 2023)

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: MBACONSULAR@state.gov

Homepage - U.S. Embassy in Eswatini (usembassy.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

landlocked southern African economy; South African trade dependent and currency pegging; CMA and SACU member state; COVID-19 economic slowdown; growing utilities inflation; persistent poverty and unemployment; HIV/AIDS labor force disruptions

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$10.885 billion (2022 est.)
$10.834 billion (2021 est.)
$9.788 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 163

Real GDP growth rate

0.48% (2022 est.)
10.68% (2021 est.)
-1.56% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 193

Real GDP per capita

$9,100 (2022 est.)
$9,100 (2021 est.)
$8,300 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 149

GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.791 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.6% (2019 est.)
4.82% (2018 est.)
6.22% (2017 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 41

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: B3 (2020)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 6.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 45% (2017 est.)

services: 48.6% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 185; industry 17; agriculture 117

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 64% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 21.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 13.4% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 47.9% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -46.3% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, maize, roots/tubers nes, grapefruit, oranges, milk, beef, potatoes, vegetables, bananas

Industries

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

Industrial production growth rate

-0.33% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 167

Labor force

399,000 (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 163

Unemployment rate

22.64% (2022 est.)
24.37% (2021 est.)
24.77% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 210

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 50.9% (2021 est.)

male: 47.7%

female: 54.1%

comparison ranking: total 3

Population below poverty line

58.9% (2016 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

54.6 (2016 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 4

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.4%

highest 10%: 42.7% (2016 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

2.64% of GDP (2022 est.)
2.72% of GDP (2021 est.)
2.82% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $1.131 billion (2020 est.)

expenditures: $1.454 billion (2020 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-8.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 201

Public debt

28.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
25.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 171

Taxes and other revenues

28.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 31

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

-$140.972 million (2022 est.)
$125.318 million (2021 est.)
$270.942 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 89

Exports

$2.095 billion (2022 est.)
$2.132 billion (2021 est.)
$1.808 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 161

Exports - partners

South Africa 94% (2017)

Exports - commodities

carbonated drink mixtures, sugar, gold, industrial additives, clothing, lumber (2021)

Imports

$2.288 billion (2022 est.)
$2.173 billion (2021 est.)
$1.686 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 170

Imports - partners

South Africa 81.6%, China 5.2% (2017)

Imports - commodities

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

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$452.352 million (2022 est.)
$572.282 million (2021 est.)
$545.564 million (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 165

Debt - external

$535 million (2019 est.)
$456 million (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 178

Exchange rates

emalangeni per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
16.362 (2022 est.)
14.783 (2021 est.)
16.47 (2020 est.)
14.452 (2019 est.)
13.234 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

population without electricity: (2020) less than 1 million

electrification - total population: 82.9% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 94.5% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 79.1% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 286,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 1,448,308,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 942 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 154.7 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 162; transmission/distribution losses 61; imports 74; exports 174; consumption 153

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 44.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 24.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 31% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 108,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 169,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 163,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 135,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 144 million metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 6,000 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 200

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 157

Refined petroleum products - imports

5,279 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 169

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

1.224 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 350,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 875,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 169

Energy consumption per capita

19.371 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 136

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 37,746 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 4 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 162

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 1.4 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 120 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 160

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Eswatini was one of the last countries in the world to open up its telecom market to competition; until 2011 the state-owned Eswatini Posts and Telecommunications also acted as the industry regulator and had a stake in the country’s sole mobile network; a new independent regulatory authority was established in late 2013 and has since embarked on significant changes to the sector; mobile market subscriptions have been affected by the common use among subscribers when they use SIM cards from different networks in order to access cheaper on-net calls; subscriber growth has slowed in recent years, but was expected to have reached 8% in 2021, as people adapted to the changing needs for connectivity caused by the pandemic; the internet sector has been open to competition with a small number of licensed ISPs; DSL services were introduced in 2008, development of the sector has been hampered by the limited fixed-line infrastructure and by a lack of competition in the access and backbone networks; Eswatini is landlocked and so depends on neighboring countries for international bandwidth; this has meant that access pricing is relatively high, and market subscriptions remains relatively low; prices have fallen recently in line with greater bandwidth availability resulting from several new submarine cable systems which have reached the region in recent years; in September 2020 a terrestrial cable linked Mozambique with Eswatini and South Africa (2022)

domestic: fixed-line stands at nearly 4 per 100 and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 120 telephones per 100 persons (2021)

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

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 users

total: 708,000 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 59% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 160

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 12,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 178

Transportation

Airports

16 (2024)

comparison ranking: 146

Railways

total: 301 km (2014)

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

comparison ranking: total 123

Roadways

total: 4,594 km

paved: 1,500 km

unpaved: 3,000 km (2022)

comparison ranking: total 152

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force (UEDF): Army (includes a small air wing); the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) (2023)

Military expenditures

1.7% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.8% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.9% of GDP (2019 est.)
2.1% of GDP (2018 est.)
2.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 76

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 3,000 active-duty personnel (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the UEDF is lightly armed with mostly older equipment from Europe, South Africa, and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2023)

Military - note

the UEDF’s primary mission is external security but it also has domestic security responsibilities, including protecting members of the royal family; the king is the UEDF commander in chief and holds the position of minister of defense, although the UEDF reports to the Army commander and principal undersecretary of defense for day-to-day operations; the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) is responsible for maintaining internal security as well as migration and border crossing enforcement; it is under the prime minister, although the king is the force’s titular commissioner in chief; the UEDF was originally created in 1973 as the Royal Swaziland Defense Force (2023)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Eswatini has stable relations with South Africa but claims large sections of South African territory based on the historic extent of Swazi control during the early 19th century; despite periodic negotiations, there has been little progress in resolving the dispute 

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Eswatini does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; Eswatini established multi-agency emergency response teams to respond to trafficking victim identification; however, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts, compared with the previous year, to expand its anti-trafficking capacity; the lack of government coordination and leadership of the Prevention of People Trafficking and Smuggling Secretariat continued to hinder efforts; the government did not allocate funding for the Prevention of People Trafficking and People Smuggling Task Force to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts; the lack of specialized training for front-line officers continued to hamper efforts; serious allegations of trafficking and victim abuse by senior government officials have remained pending for multiple years; the first shelter for victims refurbished in collaboration with foreign donor support remained inoperative for the second consecutive year; therefore, Eswatini remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Eswatini, and traffickers exploit victims from Eswatini abroad; traffickers target vulnerable communities, particularly those with high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates; Swati girls, particularly orphans, are exploited in sex trafficking and domestic servitude, primarily in Eswatini and South Africa; some Swati girls in forced domestic work are physically and sexually abused by their employers, and sex traffickers exploit orphaned girls in exchange for food and money; Swati boys and foreign children are forced into labor in agriculture, cattle herding, and market vending within Eswatini; some Mozambican boys who migrate to Eswatini for work are exploited by traffickers in forced labor; Cuban nationals on medical missions in Eswatini may have been forced to work by the Cuban government; traffickers use Eswatini as a transit country to move foreign victims, primarily Mozambicans, to South Africa for forced labor; some Mozambican women reportedly are forced into commercial sex in Eswatini or transported to South Africa; some Swati people, including orphaned girls and girls from poor families who voluntarily migrate in search of work—particularly in South Africa—are exploited in sex trafficking; Swati men recruited in border communities are exploited in forced labor in South Africa’s timber industry (2023)