Autonomy for the Swazis of southern Africa was guaranteed by the British in the late 19th century; independence was granted in 1968. Student and labour unrest during the 1990s pressured King MSWATI III, the world’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 political parties remain banned. The African United Democratic Party tried unsuccessfully to register as an official political party in mid 2006. Talks over the constitution broke down between the government and progressive groups in 2007. Swaziland recently surpassed Botswana as the country with the world’s highest known HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.


Location: Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa
Geographic coordinates: 26 30 S, 31 30 E
Population: 1,386,914 (July 2012 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

Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.8% (male 261,762/female 255,828)

15-64 years: 58.6% (male 399,746/female 403,681)

65 years and over: 3.6% (male 20,472/female 28,935) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Swaziland

conventional short form: Swaziland

local long form: Umbuso weSwatini

local short form: eSwatini

Government type: monarchy
Telephones – main lines in use: 44,000 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 732,700 (2009)
Airports: 15 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2012)

Military branches: Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF): Ground Force (includes air wing) (2010)
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 (2010)


In this small, landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp remain important foreign exchange earners. In 2007, the sugar industry increased efficiency and diversification efforts, in response to a 17% decline in EU sugar prices. Mining has declined in importance in recent years with only coal and quarry stone mines remaining active.


Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa from which it receives more than nine-tenths of its imports and to which it sends 60% of its exports. Swaziland’s currency is pegged to the South African rand, subsuming Swaziland’s monetary policy to South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union, which may equal as much as 70% of government revenue this year, and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income.

Transnational Issues:

In 2006, Swazi king advocates resort to ICJ to claim parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from South Africa.