Eswatini, officially Swaziland until 2018, traditionally unofficially also kaNgwane, is a landlocked country in southern Africa. It borders South Africa and Mozambique. The national holiday is September 6, the anniversary of independence in 1968. The form of government is in fact an absolute monarchy. The country's two largest cities are the administrative capital, Mbabane, and the economic center, Manzini. The seat of government is Lobamba.


Country and people

Around 1.1 million people live in Eswatini (2017 census), over 90% are Swazi, there are also other Bantu such as Zulu, Tsonga and Sotho as well as a few whites and coloreds (Indians, Pakistanis). About 70% have to survive on less than $1 per day. Agriculture only goes beyond the status of a subsistence economy in exceptional cases, so that many Swazi literally live from hand to mouth. However, this is also a problem of training. School attendance is not officially compulsory, but the majority of children go to primary school regularly. The majority of Swazi people profess Christianity, although the faith is often mixed with natural religions. Fortune tellers and natural healers (Inyanga) play a major role in medicine, as well as in society. In families, the roles of men and women are still very much tied to tradition. Paying bridewealth (usually in the form of several cattle) is still common practice.



Eswatini is located in southern Africa, landlocked between its neighbors South Africa and Mozambique. The country measures around 180km from north to south and only 120km from east to west. Politically it is divided into four regions

Hhohho in the northwest with the capital Mbabane
Manzini in the west and center
Shiselweni in the southwest with the capital Nhlangano
Lubombo in the east

Geographically, the country can be divided into four zones that run in a north-south direction:
the Highveld with altitudes over 1000m. The mountainous landscape is used for forestry with eucalyptus and pine forests.
the Middleveld, a fertile hilly landscape around the center of Manzini.
the Lowveld is an African savanna landscape. Although there is no particularly high rainfall, the Lowveld is crossed by several rivers and offers good growing opportunities for sugar cane, citrus fruits and pineapple plantations.
The Lubombo Plateau is a narrow ridge along the border with Mozambique and is used as arable and pastureland.


Getting here

A visa is not required for most Europeans. Liechtensteiners, Bulgarians and Romanians need one.

There is only one international airport in Eswatini. This is the long-delayed King Mswati International Airport, which was completed in 2014. It is located about 70km east of the capital Mbabane and 45km from the economic center of Manzini. It is connected to the main road MR3 by a 17 kilometer long access road and can therefore be reached all the way to the capital on paved roads. Flights here are offered by Eswatini Airlink (a subsidiary of South African Airlink) from Johannesburg. There is also a rental car rental service at the airport. When leaving the country by plane, a tax of 20 E per person is charged. The former international airport Matsapha Airport, which is located about 1km west of Manzini, now only serves flights of the royal family, members of the government, aid transport and the air force.

Only goods are transported on the Eswatini Railways' rudimentary rail network (around 300km).

There are bus connections to neighboring countries, including: to Johannesburg, Durban and Maputo.

Attention: left-hand traffic! The speed limit outside of town is generally 80km/h; on some roads a speed of 120km/h is permitted according to the signs. You can practically travel the entire country in a normal car, i.e. H. without all-wheel drive (4x4). Non-asphalted roads (“gravel roads”) away from major routes can usually be driven on without all-wheel drive. It is important to be careful of potholes, pedestrians and animals. Many older cars and trucks travel slowly and are sometimes poorly lit. You should therefore strictly adhere to the speed limit, especially at night! In villages (and if there are only a few huts) and at schools there is generally a maximum speed of 60km/h. Any fines will be due immediately.

When crossing the border, please note that most border stations close in the evening. License plates are recorded together with personal details upon entry and checked upon departure. Before entering South Africa with a rental car, you should find out whether crossing the border is permitted.

Opening hours of the border crossings:
Jeppes Reef - Matsamo: 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m
Josefdal - Bulembu: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m
Oshoek - Ngwenya: 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m
Waverly - Lundzi: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m
Sandlane - Nerston: 8am - 4pm
Houtkop - Sicunusa: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m
Bothashoop – Gege: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m
Mahamba - Mahamba: 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m
Onverwacht – Nsalitie: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m
Golela - Lavumisa: 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m
Goba - Mhlumeni: 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m
Namaacha - Lomahasha: 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m



English, the official official and business language, is spoken and understood practically everywhere. All of the country's official websites are in English, as are the country's two largest newspapers. Knowledge of Siswati, the second official language, is not absolutely necessary, but it certainly helps to gain sympathy from the locals.



You can pay with the South African Rand or the local currency Lilangeni. Their exchange rate is tied one-to-one to the South African rand, exchange rate: 19.52R = € 1. In practice, it is usually about more than just one Lilangeni, which means that price information almost exclusively uses the plural abbreviated with E Emalangeni is used. You can't get rid of South African coins. You should be careful with the change, which can be used in South Africa, which is not the case with Lilangeni.

There are few industrial products of interest to tourists in Eswatini. Handicrafts worth mentioning include glass figures, carvings, jewelry, fabrics and batik cloths as well as artistically designed candles. Individual artists have specialized in creating original objects from wire and other waste from civilization. The prices on the markets are moderate, otherwise they are on a par with those in neighboring South Africa.

The normal shops are usually open Mon-Fri from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sat 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Bank opening times: Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Sat 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Paying with common cards such as Maestro Card is widespread and also common in smaller shops.
Post office: open Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m



Although Eswatini is very small, it offers a relatively high number of hotels, lodges and other accommodations due to its many attractions.

Phophonyane Falls Lodge. The Phophonyane Falls Lodge is a real highlight. Tucked away in the Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve and not far from the waterfalls that give it its name, this small resort is a gem for anyone looking for peace or wanting to explore Eswatini's breathtaking landscape. You can choose from well-equipped, thatched-roof double-decker huts, traditional round huts or romantic tents by the river (here you get that “Africa feeling” à la Hemingway), but without a private bathroom. There is a good, on-site restaurant, the natural pool of the waterfalls and also several secluded hiking routes. The town of Piggs Peak (including shops etc.) is approx. 14km away and there are also ancient rock carvings to see nearby. The overnight cost is around R480-R750 per person. You can book by telephone on +268 437 1429, by fax +268 437 1319 or online. In urgent cases you can also call the mobile number +268 604 2802.
Mantenga Lodge, Ezulwini. Tel.: +268 4161049, +268 4162681, Fax: +268 4162618. Centrally located close to many attractions such as craft markets, nature reserves, golf course, spa and hiking trails, this hotel is an excellent base for exploring Eswatini. At the foot of the Sheaba's Breasts mountains, there are 30 rooms and 8 cabins to choose from, all with breakfast included, from around R470-R600 per person. Of course, you can take this on the viewing terrace or refresh yourself at the in-house bar. A swimming pool is just as standard at the hotel as are the televisions in the rooms.


Country name

Agreements of 1881 and 1884 between the governments of the United Kingdom and the South African Republic guaranteed Swaziland's independence. A provisional government was formed in 1890 with the participation of British, Transvaal and Swazi representatives. Between 1902 and 1907 a British special commissioner ruled the country. Since the founding of the Union of South Africa in 1910, there has been a High Commissioner for Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate, Southern Rhodesia and Swaziland. Since then, the country has been administered under the umbrella term High Commission Territories with other British colonial territories and the name Swaziland has been used. From 1930 to 1963, British administration of the area was the responsibility of the High Commissioner for Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland (BBS).

After gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1968, the country was officially called the Kingdom of Swaziland until 2018.

On his 50th birthday on April 19, 2018 and on the occasion of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of independence from Great Britain, King Mswati III declared. in a speech that the English state name should in future be Kingdom of Eswatini and thus a relic from the colonial era should be removed. Mswati III and other officials have used this term before. This was also intended to prevent confusion between the names of Swaziland and Switzerland. King Mswati III officially ordered by decree – entitled ‘Legal Notice No.80 of 2018’ – to change the English state name from “Swaziland” to “Eswatini”. The United Nations, the German Foreign Office, the Austrian Foreign Ministry and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs took up the name change. On September 6, 2018, the country celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom. There was criticism from the opposition that the name itself was common, but the name change should not have simply been decided by the king, but should have been determined through a constitutional amendment. The government, however, stated that the king had “only reintroduced the official name of the state.”



Around 1750, as part of the Nguni migration, numerous Swazi settled in the area of today's Eswatini.

Swazi autonomy in southern Africa was guaranteed by the British in the early 19th century. The Boers came to the country towards the end of the 19th century. In 1894, the South African Republic, one of the Boer republics, gained widespread control of Eswatini. After the Second Boer War (1899–1902), Great Britain took over administration and declared Eswatini a protectorate in 1907.

In Swaziland's first legislative assembly elections in 1964, there were two lists for registration, one for Europeans and one for the rest of the population. But only those who paid direct taxes could vote, although the wives of men who paid taxes were also eligible to vote. However, when polygamy was involved, only one of the wives was allowed to vote.

On September 6, 1968, Swaziland gained independence from the United Kingdom, which is commemorated by the country's national day. The leader of the monarchist ruling party “Imbokodvo National Movement” originally wanted to call the state Ngwana after independence. All women were given the right to vote and stand for election to the House of Assembly, but the Swazi National Council, which advised the king on all matters relating to Swazi laws and customs, was restricted to male Swazis. The only exception is the Queen Mother.

In 1973, King Sobhuza II temporarily abolished parliament and suspended the constitution, giving him absolute power. A new parliament was founded in 1979; Since then, some of the representatives have been appointed by the king. Sobhuza II died in 1982.

In 1986 Mswati III became. King, then Prince Makhosetive. He is known for his luxurious lifestyle and numerous wives. He purchased large numbers of luxury limousines several times.

In 1996 and the following years there was repeated resistance to the absolute monarchy, for example in the form of strikes and demonstrations. Today Eswatini is the last absolute monarchy in Africa. Eswatini is heavily indebted and facing bankruptcy because of its ruler's wastefulness. Pensions and salaries of public employees will no longer be increased despite inflation.



With an area of 17,363 square kilometers, the kingdom is the second smallest country on the African continent after Gambia. The landlocked country's neighboring countries are Mozambique to the east and the South African provinces of Mpumalanga to the north and west and KwaZulu-Natal to the south. The total length of the state border is 535 kilometers, of which 105 kilometers are shared with Mozambique and 430 kilometers with South Africa. The Lusutfu, also known as the Great Usutu River and later Maputo, is the longest river in the country. Eswatini is divided into four regions: Hhohho (to the north and north-west), Manzini to the west and centre, Shiselweni to the south and Lubombo to the east.

Eswatini is divided into four topographical zones from west to east. In the west of the country lies the Highveld (upland), which has an average altitude of 1300 m and goes west into the South African Drakensberg. The highest elevation within Eswatini is the 1862 m high Emlembe near the western border. About a sixth of the highlands is covered by forest. The capital Mbabane is in this region. The Middleveld has an average elevation of around 700 m and consists of fertile hill country. Manzini, the largest city in the country, is also located here. To the east is the Lowveld, which consists mainly of scrubland and has its lowest point at 21 m at the Lusutfu River. The lowlands are mainly used for sugar cane cultivation. Along the eastern border of Eswatini lies the southern part of the Lubombo Mountains (also Lebombo Mountains), with the 776 m high Mount Mananga.



The climate zones correspond to the four landscape zones and are subtropical overall. The Highveld gets the most rain at over 1000mm. Most precipitation falls in summer (October to March). Mostly there are showers, prolonged rainfall is rare. The temperatures are predominantly warm or mild. Humidity is mostly high; in Mbabane, average summer temperatures reach 26°C. In winter they drop to around 13 °C. There is significantly less rainfall in the Lowveld. The climate is warmest here. The Lubombo Mountains also have a dry, subtropical climate with slightly cooler temperatures than in the Lowveld.


Bodies of water

Hydrologically, the country is divided into four catchment areas. All of its precipitation drains eastwards via these into Maputo Bay. The north, with 2500 km² and 14% of the country's area, drains over the Komati, which brushes the land. The headwaters and tributaries of the Mbuluzi rise in the middle and east, covering more than 10% of the area. The entire south drains into the Maputo, whose catchment area of around 12,000 km² makes up 69% of the country's area. In the extreme east there is a small part that drains over the Tembe.

Most of the country's lakes are reservoirs. The largest are Mnjoli Reservoir, Maguga Dam and Pongolapoort Reservoir. The latter is mostly on the territory of South Africa and only extends into the territory of Eswatini when the water level is high.



Over 90% of the population of Eswatini belong to the Swazi Bantu people. Sotho, Zulu, Tsonga, White and Coloureds also live there.

The average fertility rate per woman for the period 2015-2020 was 3.02 children. During the same period, there were an average of 26.7 births and 9.4 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants. The average life expectancy at birth in 2017 was 52.1 years (women: 51.5 years, men: 52.7 years). The median age was 21.7 years. Population growth was 1.08% per year in 2017. Eswatini is among the African countries with the lowest percentage of population growth. Reasons for this are lower fertility, high mortality from AIDS and emigration (mainly to South Africa).


Languages and religions

lmost all Swazi speak siSwati, a Nguni language, as their mother tongue. A few residents speak isiZulu or Xitsonga as their first language. English is the language of education, lingua franca and the second official language in Eswatini. For example, the websites of the government, public administration, energy and water suppliers, companies, banks, media, etc. are written exclusively in English; de facto no Eswatini websites can be found in siSwati.

Around 90% of Eswatini's residents are Christians. It is estimated that 40% of the population belong to the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), which is widespread in southern Africa, and about 5% to the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholics are combined in the Diocese of Manzini.



Although schooling is not compulsory and there is a fee to attend school, a large proportion of children attend primary schools, which last up to the 7th grade. At the same time, around 12% of 5-14 year olds work (as of 2001). The proportion of children who attend secondary school is around 47%. Illiterates are clearly in the minority.

Eswatini has had its own university since 1973, the University of Eswatini, renamed in 2018. It is based in Kwaluseni; some faculties are located in Luyengo and Mbabane. There are also other institutions in the tertiary education sector, both public and private.

Until the second half of the 20th century, the education sector was determined by mission stations. Leading churches in this context included the Nazarenes, including some of their associated groups, as well as the Methodists and the Anglicans. At least until 1945, Eswatini was part of the former High Commission Territories (BLS states) that provided education through the Primary Standards, then up to Standard VIII/age 16. Established in 1908, St Mark's School (Anglican) in Mbabane offered full secondary education. The Goedgegun school (state) went only up to Junior Certificate and offered training in an agricultural department. These were educational offers for students from the population of European descent.
The widespread schooling for members of the Swazi went to the above same period up to Standard IV, but usually only up to II or III, but in two cases up to the Junior Certificate. Altogether there were about 100 schools for this population in 1945 (financed by the state or with state funds). There were also three Swazi national schools with primary education. Only one of these three institutions funded by the Swazi National Fund offered a Junior Certificate level degree. The latter, the Matapa School founded in 1932, had professional training opportunities in the field of industrial and agricultural job profiles. It also served as a school for the chiefs' sons and was directly overseen by a government commission.



The rate of HIV infection is the highest in the world. In 2004, 39% of the population was infected with the causative agent of the immunodeficiency disease, in 2005 it was already 42%, adjusted for the elderly and children around 63%. Between 2008 and 2013 the infection rate was slightly reduced. In 2019, the proportion of people infected with HIV in the 15 to 49 age group was 27.3%. Over 3000 people die from the disease every year. AIDS is one of the main reasons for the low life expectancy, at times the lowest in the world. It reached its lowest point in 2005 at 42.5 years, 44.6 years for women and 40.7 years for men. Since then, however, it has increased again continuously and was around 59.4 years in 2019, 64.0 years for women and 55.3 years for men. In addition to the low fertility rate and migration to South Africa, this is one of the reasons for the very low population growth by African standards.

Despite the progress the country has made, health care is still rudimentary. 88.3% of births are attended by qualified medical staff (as of 2019). Infant mortality is 40.8 per 1000 births, maternal mortality is 389 per 100,000 births (as of 2019). 66% of married women have access to contraception (as of 2019).

Progress has been made in the fight against malnutrition and hunger. In 2014, 5.8% of small children were malnourished. At the same time, 16.5% of adults are severely overweight.



Eswatini is an absolute monarchy within the framework of the Commonwealth, in which the King (Ngwenyana, German "Lion") and the House of Dlamini play a dominant role in politics. The Queen Mother is the deputy head of state as Ndlovukazi (“Elephant”). The Ndlovukazi can also be appointed. Since 1986 this has been Ntombi, the mother of Mswati III. The king appoints the prime minister, who heads a cabinet. The royal palace is located in Lobamba between Eswatini's two largest cities, Manzini and Mbabane. King and Ndlovukazi are depicted on numerous coins and stamps. Numerous positions in politics and administration are filled by the king, and in most cases members or friends of the royal family (House of Dlamini) are selected.


Legislative branch

The parliament is also located in Lobamba and consists of two chambers. The Senate has a maximum of 31 members, 20 of whom are appointed by the king and ten by the House of Assembly, the second chamber of parliament. It has up to 76 members, of which 55 are representatives of its constituency, Tinkhundla, since 2013. In the sub-units of the Tinkhundla, the chiefdoms, candidates stand for election in a first round without being associated with a party. The candidate with the highest number of votes goes to a second round, where the candidate with the highest number of votes from Tinkhundla becomes their constituency representative. Ten additional deputies are appointed by the king. The Attorney General also has a mandate in the House of Assembly. The Senate and House of Assembly are elected or appointed every five years. After the elections in August/September 2013, the next election took place in August/September 2018.

Political parties were banned from 1973, and their status has been unclear since 2005. There are several opposition groups, for example the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), which aims for a multi-party system, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), and the Communist Party of Swaziland (“Communist Party of Swaziland”). A new constitution has been in force since 2005, which confirms the king's absolute rights and still does not allow parties in elections.



The king is the head of the executive, legislative and judicial branches and enjoys immunity from the courts. The highest court is the Supreme Court; There are also the High Court and the Industrial Court. There are other courts in the larger towns. As in surrounding states (see South African law, for example), the legal system corresponds to Roman Dutch Law, combined with a traditional legal system at the local level.


Domestic and economic policy

While the majority of the rural population supports the monarchy, there is strong resistance to the king's policies among teachers and trade unions. The inadequate legislation in labor law is criticized.


Human rights

Amnesty International believes that the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Eswatini continue to be suppressed in 2009. Security laws are being used to violate people's rights, according to the 2010 annual report. Police used excessive force against peaceful protest participants. There were also reports of torture and unjustified use of force resulting in death by police forces. Almost 70% of Eswatini's population lived in poverty in 2009, with more than a quarter in need of food assistance. Women and girls continued to suffer disproportionately from sexual violence, poverty and the rampant HIV pandemic. According to UNICEF, Eswatini is the country with the highest AIDS rate in the world. The children's charity estimates the number of AIDS orphans at around 100,000. Women's rights are severely restricted in many areas. For example, banks continue to reject loan applications from women if they cannot provide a male guarantor. Social discrimination against both ethnic and sexual minorities (LGBT) remains widespread. Homosexuality among men is explicitly criminalized and punished as a crime with up to two years in prison.



With the renaming of Swaziland to Eswatini in 2018, the armed forces, which had been established in 1968 as the Royal Swaziland Defense Force, were also renamed. Eswatini's 3,000-member armed forces, the Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force, are divided into an army and a small air force. They serve, among other things, internal security and border protection.