Swaziland map

Swaziland flag

Flag description: Three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in yellow; centred in the red band is a large black and white shield covering two spears and a staff decorated with feather tassels, all placed horizontally.

Location: Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa.

Geographic coordinates: 26 30 S, 31 30 E.

Climate: varies from tropical to near temperate.

Independence: 6 September 1968 (from UK).

Nationality: Swazi(s).

Capital City: Mbabane; - Lobamba is the royal and legislative capital.

Population: 1,083,289.

Head of State: King MSWATI III (since 25 April 1986).

Area: 17,363 sq km.

Type of Government: monarchy; independent member of Commonwealth.

Currency: 1 lilangeni (E) = 100 cents.

Major peoples: African 97%, European 3%.

Religion: Christian 60%, indigenous beliefs 40%.

Official Language: English (official, government business conducted in English), siSwati (official).

Principal Languages: English, siSwati.

Major Exports: soft drink concentrates, sugar, wood pulp, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus and canned fruit.

History: The Swazi settled the area at the beginning of the 19th century. The discovery of gold there in 1879 was followed by a great influx of Europeans, and in 1894, Swaziland became subject to the Boer republic of Transvaal.

After the British defeated the Boers in the South African War, it was reconstituted (1903) as a British High Commission Territory. Swaziland regained independence in 1968 as a constitutional monarchy.

In 1973, King Sobhuza II, who reigned from 1921 to 1982, repealed the constitution and assumed absolute power. The 1978 constitution created a legislature whose members were indirectly elected or appointed by the king; all legislation required approval by the crown. After a power struggle, Sobhuza was succeeded by one of his many sons, Makhosetive, who was crowned King Mswati III in April 1986.

A 1982 attempt by South Africa to transfer the KaNgwane homeland and part of Kwa-Zulu to Swaziland was blocked by the South African courts. In 1984 it was disclosed that Swaziland and South Africa had signed a non aggression pact in 1982.

King Mswati dissolved parliament in October 1992, announcing that he would rule with executive powers until a new constitution was drafted and scheduled elections would be held sometime in 1993.