A fact file on Swaziland

2013-09-20 08:08

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mbabane -The tiny mountain kingdom of Swaziland, which votes for a new parliament on Friday, is Africa's last absolute monarchy and one of the poorest nations on the continent.

GEOGRAPHY: Swaziland is a landlocked country in the eastern flank of South Africa, where it also shares a border with Mozambique. It spans 17 363 square kilometres.

POPULATION: 1.23 million inhabitants (2012, World Bank), of whom 78% live in rural areas.

CAPITAL: Mbabane. Manzini is the economic capital.

HISTORY: Swaziland is the third smallest and one of the least populated countries on the African continent. It became independent from colonial rulers Britain in 1968. Five years after independence, Swaziland's ruler king Sobhuza II withdrew the British designed constitution and restored the traditional system of government, in which all effective power remains in the hands of the royals.

Sobhuza's death in 1982 was followed by a power struggle within the royal family. In 1986 his teenage heir, Prince Makhosetive, was installed as King Mswati III.

Mswati has often been criticised for his extravagant lifestyle. He has faced many protests and demands for democratic reforms.

To address the criticism, he appointed a committee to draft a new constitution in 2001. Released in 2003, it fell short of the hoped for democratic reform, as it neglected to recognise opposition political parties and allowed the king to retain absolute governing powers.

In July 2007, tens of thousands of striking civil servants took to the streets to demand a multi-party system.

Unrest has increased since 2011, with labour groups and the Swazi diaspora campaigning for democratic reforms.

LANGUAGE: English (official language) and SiSwati

RELIGION: Christianity (around 80 percent) and animist.

HIV-AIDS FIGURES: From 26 to 40 percent of adults are HIV positive or suffering from Aids. The figures vary according to different sources, but nevertheless the rate remains the highest in the world.

ECONOMY: Nearly 70% of the population live below the poverty line, while 40% are unemployed.

The government faces chronic budget shortfalls.

INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS: Swaziland is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Commonwealth.

Read more on:    king mswati iii  |  swaziland  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.