macrohistory & world report

Kingdom of Swaziland



Swaziland (capital Mbabane) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of October 2014: "Autonomy for the Swazis of southern Africa was guaranteed by the British in the late 19th century; independence was granted in 1968... Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland depends heavily on South Africa from which it receives more than 90% of its imports and to which it sends 60% of its exports. Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively subsuming 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. Subsistence agriculture employs approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp were major foreign exchange earners; however, the wood pulp producer closed in January 2010, and sugar is now the main export earner. Mining has declined in importance in recent years with only coal and quarry stone mines remaining active... Swaziland is looking to other countries, including South Africa, for assistance, but continues to struggle to meet its monthly payroll and fund government programs. With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods persist as problems for the future. More than one-fourth of the population needed emergency food aid in 2006-07 because of drought, and more than one-quarter of the adult population has been infected by HIV/AIDS, as of 2013."

Economic growth rate
2013: 0%
2012: -1.5%
2011: minus 2.1%
2010: 2%

Unemployment rate
2006: 40%.

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 18th among 141 countries (lower rank number is less equal).


Living in an urban area
2010: 21%

Density: 68 persons per square kilometer estimated for 2005.

Ethnic groups
African 97%, European 3%

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

Literacy (age 15 and older )
2011: males 88.4%, females 87.3%
2003: males 82.6 5, females 80.8%


Southern Africa. Landlocked. Borders on Mozambique and South Africa. Equivalent to 132 by 132 kilometers. Mountainous.


Prime minister is appointed by the king. Advisory body for the king: a bicameral parliament (Senate and Assembly). The Assembly has 65 seats, with 10 members appointed by the king and 55 members elected by popular vote and serving five-year terms.

One of the world's last absolute monarchies.

Trade unions and opposition parties have been banned.

Capital: Mbabane

Recent History

Independence from South Africa granted in 1968.

Headline from January 2005: King Mswati III takes his 13th wife.

Headline from February 2005: "King Mswati buys 10 BMWs for his wives just two months after being criticized for buying a $500,000 car for himself." (from BBC News)

The World Factbook
BBC News

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.