Photos of Eswatini

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.

 

 

 

 

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

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

mean elevation: 305 m

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% (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

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, 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

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.

Age structure

0-14 years: 33.63% (male 185,640/female 185,808)

15-24 years: 18.71% (male 98,029/female 108,654)

25-54 years: 39.46% (male 202,536/female 233,275)

55-64 years: 4.36% (male 20,529/female 27,672)

65 years and over: 3.83% (male 15,833/female 26,503) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 70.8

youth dependency ratio: 64

elderly dependency ratio: 6.9

potential support ratio: 14.6 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 23.7 years

male: 22.5 years

female: 24.7 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 174

Birth rate

23.87 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

Death rate

9.9 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 35

Net migration rate

-6.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 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: 24.2% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 2.46% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

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

15-24 years: 0.9 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.74 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.6 male(s)/female

total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

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

country comparison to the world: 25

Infant mortality rate

total: 41.2 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 45.57 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 36.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 59.13 years

male: 57.05 years

female: 61.28 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 220

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 96.8% of population

rural: 72.3% of population

total: 78.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 3.2% of population

rural: 27.7% of population

total: 21.7% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.33 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

2.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 93.5% of population

rural: 82.4% of population

total: 85% of population

unimproved: urban: 6.5% of population

rural: 17.6% of population

total: 15% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

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

vectorborne diseases: malaria

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 88.4%

male: 88.3%

female: 88.5% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 12 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 47.1%

male: 44.2%

female: 50.1% (2016)

country comparison to the world: 5

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 Ambrose Mandvulo DLAMINI (since 27 October 2018); 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 Lisa J. PETERSON (since February 2016)

telephone: (268)404-6441; EMER: +(268)7602-8414

embassy: 7th Floor, Central Bank Building, Mahlokohla Street, Mbabane

mailing address: PO Box 199, Mbabane, Eswatini

FAX: [268] 2416-3344

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.

Real GDP growth rate

1.6% (2017 est.)

1.4% (2016 est.)

0.4% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 152

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: B3 (2020)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$9.898 billion (2019 est.)

$9.681 billion (2018 est.)

$9.457 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 164

GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.484 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$8,622 (2019 est.)

$8,521 (2018 est.)

$8,408 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 151

Gross national saving

16.2% of GDP (2019 est.)

16.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

16.2% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 135

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 6.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 45% (2017 est.)

services: 48.6% (2017 est.)

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

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 10.7%

industry: 30.4%

services: 58.9% (2014 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%

highest 10%: 40.1% (2010 est.)

Budget

revenues: 1.263 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 1.639 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

28.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

25.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 168

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

$604 million (2017 est.)

$642 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

Exports

$2.389 billion (2018 est.)

$2.154 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 138

Exports - partners

South Africa 94% (2017)

Exports - commodities

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

Imports

$2.605 billion (2018 est.)

$2.853 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 161

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

$563.1 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$564.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 147

Debt - external

$535 million (2019 est.)

$456 million (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 178

Exchange rates

emalangeni per US dollar -

14.44 (2017 est.)

14.6924 (2016 est.)

14.6924 (2015 est.)

12.7581 (2014 est.)

10.8469 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 90% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 98% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 87% (2019)

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 telecommunications hindered its growth; new regulatory authority established in 2013 has aided expansion in the telecom sector; 2G, 3G, 4G and LTE services (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 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

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: 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: 176

Transportation

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

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force (UEDF): Ground Force (includes Air Wing (no operational aircraft)) (2019)

Military expenditures

1.8% of GDP (2019)

1.9% of GDP (2018)

1.9% of GDP (2017)

2% of GDP (2016)

1.8% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 65

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force has approximately 3,100 active personnel (3,000 Army; 100 Air Force) (2020 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the inventory of the UEDF consists mostly of equipment from South Africa; the only publicly recorded military acquisitions since 2010 were two secondhand helicopters from Taiwan in 2019 (2020)

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 (2013)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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