Autonomy for the Swazis of southern Africa was guaranteed by the British in the late 19th century; independence was granted in 1968. Student and labor unrest during the 1990s pressured King MSWATI III, Africa's last absolute monarch, to grudgingly allow political reform and greater democracy, although he has backslid on these promises in recent years. A constitution came into effect in 2006, but the legal status of political parties was not defined and their status remains unclear. Swaziland has surpassed Botswana as the country with the world's highest known HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.



Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa

Geographic coordinates

26 30 S, 31 30 E

Map references



total: 17,364 sq km
land: 17,204 sq km
water: 160 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries

total: 546 km
border countries (2): Mozambique 108 km, South Africa 438 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


varies from tropical to near temperate


mostly mountains and hills; some moderately sloping plains


mean elevation: 305 m
elevation extremes: 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%
arable land 9.8%; permanent crops 0.8%; permanent pasture 57.7%
forest: 31.7%
other: 0% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

500 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues

limited supplies of potable water; wildlife populations being depleted because of excessive hunting; overgrazing; soil degradation; soil erosion

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

Ethnic groups

African 97%, European 3%

Birth rate

24.3 births/1,000 population (2016 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 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Swazi(s)
adjective: Swazi


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


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

Demographic profile

Swaziland, 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 Swaziland’s poverty and subsistence problems. Swaziland’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 Swaziland’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 Swaziland. 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: 35.5% (male 260,507/female 254,811)
15-24 years: 22.19% (male 162,880/female 159,229)
25-54 years: 34.12% (male 256,696/female 238,471)
55-64 years: 4.28% (male 24,758/female 37,399)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 21,842/female 34,835) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 69.3%
youth dependency ratio: 63.2%
elderly dependency ratio: 6.1%
potential support ratio: 16.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 21.4 years
male: 21.2 years
female: 21.7 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.1% (2016 est.)

Death rate

13.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 21.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.32% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MBABANE (capital) 66,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.66 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

389 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 50.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 54.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 51.6 years
male: 52.2 years
female: 51 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.74 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

65.2% (2010)

Health expenditures

9.3% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.17 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

2.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 93.6% of population
rural: 68.9% of population
total: 74.1% of population
urban: 6.4% of population
rural: 31.1% of population
total: 25.9% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 63.1% of population
rural: 56% of population
total: 57.5% of population
urban: 36.9% of population
rural: 44% of population
total: 42.5% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

28.8% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

218,600 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

3,800 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

14.8% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

5.8% (2014)

Education expenditures

7.1% of GDP (2014)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.5%
male: 87.4%
female: 87.5% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years
male: 12 years
female: 11 years (2013)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2006/07 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Swaziland
conventional short form: Swaziland
local long form: Umbuso weSwatini
local short form: eSwatini
etymology: "Land of the Swazi" people; the name "Swazi" derives from 19th century King MSWATI II, under whose rule Swazi territory was expanded and unified

Government type

absolute monarchy


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)

Administrative divisions

4 districts; Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini, Shiselweni


6 September 1968 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 6 September (1968)


previous 1968, 1978; latest signed by the king 26 July 2005, effective 8 February 2006 (2016)

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 by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: both parents must be citizens of Swaziland
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age

Executive branch

chief of state: King MSWATI III (since 25 April 1986)
head of government: Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso DLAMINI (since 23 October 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Themba Nhlanganiso MASUKU (since 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet recommended by the prime minister, confirmed by the monarch
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch from among elected members of the House of Assembly

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Libandla consists of the 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) and the House of Assembly (65 seats; 55 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 10 members appointed by the monarch; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: House of Assembly - last held on 20 September 2013 (next scheduled for September 2018)
election results: House of Assembly - no results of the election were released; note - balloting is done on a nonparty basis; for each constituency the three candidates with the most votes in the first round of voting are narrowed to a single winner by a second round

Judicial branch

highest court(s): the Supreme Court of the Judicature comprising the Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and at least 5 justices) and the High Court (consists of the chief justice - ex officio - and at least 4 justices); note - the Supreme Court has jurisdiction in all constitutional matters
judge selection and term of office: justices of the Supreme Court of the Judicature appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission or JCS, a judicial advisory body consisting of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, 4 members appointed by the monarch, and the JCS head; justices of both courts eligible for retirement at age 65 with mandatory retirement at age 75 for Supreme Court justices and at age 70 for High Court justices
subordinate courts: magistrates' courts; National Swazi Courts for administering customary/traditional laws (jurisdiction restricted to customary law for Swazi citizens)
note: the national constitution as amended in 2006 shifted judicial power from the monarch and vested it exclusively in the judiciary

Political parties and leaders

the status of political parties, previously banned, is unclear under the 2006 Constitution; the following are considered political associations:
African United Democratic Party or AUDP [Stanley MAUNDZISA]
Ngwane National Liberatory Congress or NNLC [Alvit DLAMINI]
People's United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO [Mario MASUKU]
Swaziland Democratic Party ro SWADEPA [Jan SITHOLE]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Swaziland Democracy Campaign
Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions
Swaziland Solidarity Network or SSN

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Abednigo Mandla NTSHANGASE (since 19 July 2010)
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 PETERSON (since January 2016)
embassy: corner of MR 103 and Cultural Center Drive, Ezulwini
mailing address: P.O. Box D202, The Gables, H106
telephone: [268] 2417-9000
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


Labor force

446,100 (2013 est.)

Economy - overview

Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland depends on South Africa for 60% of its exports and for more than 90% of its imports. Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively relinquishing Swazi

Subsistence agriculture employs approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector diversified in the 1980s and 1990s, but manufacturing has grown little in the last decade. Sugar and wood pulp had been major foreign exchange earners until the

With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and to attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods are persistent problems. On 1 Jan

The IMF forecasted that Swaziland’s economy will grow at a slower pace in 2017 because of a region-wide drought, which is likely to hurt Swaziland’s revenue from sugar exports and other agricultural products, and a decline in the tourism and transport sec

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$11.06 billion (2016 est.)
$11.01 billion (2015 est.)
$10.83 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.43 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

0.5% (2016 est.)
1.7% (2015 est.)
2.5% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$9,800 (2016 est.)
$9,800 (2015 est.)
$9,800 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

4.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
18.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
12.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 74.7%
government consumption: 21.4%
investment in fixed capital: 14.6%
investment in inventories: -0.1%
exports of goods and services: 34.5%
imports of goods and services: -45.2% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 5.8%
industry: 44.5%
services: 49.7% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts; cattle, goats, sheep


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

Industrial production growth rate

2.8% (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 70%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment rate

40% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line

69% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 40.1% (2010 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

50.4 (2001)


revenues: $866.9 million
expenditures: $1.195 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

25.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-9.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

8.8% (2016 est.)
5% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

6.5% (31 December 2010)
6.5% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

10.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
9.04% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$236.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$304.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$825.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.008 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$511.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$557.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$203.1 million (31 December 2007)
$199.9 million (31 December 2006)

Current account balance

-$167 million (2016 est.)
$370 million (2015 est.)


$1.717 billion (2016 est.)
$1.763 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

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


$1.655 billion (2016 est.)
$1.603 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

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

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$603.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$548 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$470.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$440.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home


Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad


Exchange rates

emalangeni per US dollar -
16.15 (2016 est.)
12.7581 (2015 est.)
12.7581 (2014 est.)
10.8469 (2013 est.)
8.2 (2012 est.)


Electricity - production

700 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - access

population without electricity: 900,000
electrification - total population: 27%
electrification - urban areas: 40%
electrification - rural areas: 24% (2013)

Electricity - consumption

1.5 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013)

Electricity - imports

900 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

200,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

59.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

40.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2010 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

5,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

5,029 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

600,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 43,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 941,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 66 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: a somewhat modern but not an advanced system
domestic: single source for mobile-cellular service with a geographic coverage of about 90% and a rising subscribership base; combined fixed-line and mobile cellular teledensity roughly 70 telephones per 100 persons in 2015; telephone system consists of carrier-equ
international: country code - 268; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)

Broadcast media

state-owned TV station; satellite dishes are able to access South African providers; state-owned radio network with 3 channels; 1 private radio station (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 436,000
percent of population: 30.4% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 89,791
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

3D (2016)


14 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 7 (2013)


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


total: 3,594 km
paved: 1,078 km
unpaved: 2,516 km (2002)


Military branches

Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force (USDF): Ground Force (includes Air Wing (no operational aircraft)) (2013)

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 (2012)

Military expenditures

3.17% of GDP (2012)
3.11% of GDP (2011)
3.17% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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