Eswatini is a country located next to South Africa and Mozambique, surrounded only by land. It used to be called the Kingdom of Swaziland but recently changed its name to Eswatini. It is one of the last remaining absolute monarchies in the world.
Read these 11 interesting facts about this African country.
1. They changed their name in 2018
This country had been known since colonial times as Swaziland. It is a name that comes from the Anglicized name of Mswati II, an ancient king who ruled between 1840 and 1868. In April 2018, however, the current king announced that the country’s new name would be Eswatini.
The city of Mbabane serves as the administrative center. It used to be also the capital of the British administration when it was a colony. However, the country’s capital is now Phondvo, about 11 miles away from Mbabane and where the king lives.
2. It is one of the best-watered nations in Africa
Many countries in Africa struggle with water, but not Eswatini. An interesting fact about Eswatini is that this country has many rivers that have their sources in South Africa and flow through Eswatini’s land all the way to the Indian Ocean. The most important rivers are the Komati, the Lomati, the Umbuluzi, and the Usutu.
3. The spread of humans throughout the country has destroyed most of the fauna’s habitat
Sadly, a great part of Eswatini’s fauna has been depleted due to the spread of humans throughout the country. They have caused the destruction of the natural habitat for many species. Some of them that have been affected are the antelope, the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, the giraffe, the elephant and the zebra. However, they can still be found in protected areas.
Smaller species can still be encountered. These are monkeys, jackals, baboons and mongoose, as well as crocodiles in the rivers.
4. More than 70 clans make up Eswatini
Eswatini is composed of more than 70 different clans. The largest clan is the Dlamini, who entered the territory int he 19th century. They joined other clans of Sotho origin that already existed in the area. In addition, clans of Nguni origin also entered the country during this time.
Both the Swazi Law and Custom Law are used to administer and regulate the country. The official languages are English and siSwati, although English is used for official and written communications mostly.
5. Eswatini is an absolute monarchy
This country is an absolute monarchy, ruled by King Mswati III, a fun fact about Eswatini. It is one of the last absolute monarchies that remain in the world. In this system, the king rules by decree over all of his subjects. There are no political parties.
King Mswati III was crowned at the age of 18 in 1986. He succeeded his father, King Sobhuza II when he died at 82. The current king is also known as Ngweyama, which means “the lion”. He has many wives and when he appears in public, he wears traditional clothes.
In 2018, the king announced that he was going to change the country’s name from Swaziland to Eswatini. However, many critics were against this change. They believed that it had to be done with consultation and that it also required a change in the Constitution.
The criticism of the government is not allowed. The State controls the media and journalists who speak against the government are liable to be prosecuted. There is not restricted access to the Internet but it is expensive and few people can afford it.
6. Exports consist mostly of sugar
The country’s main exports are from sugar production, but also many Swazis travel to South Africa to send money to their relatives in Eswatini. The country also has a manufacturing sector, but it has not grown significantly over the past decade.
The products that earn Eswatini more money are sugar and soft drink concentrates , a fun Eswatini fact. On a small scale, they mine coal, diamond, gold and quarry stone. As for the government, it depends for almost half of its revenue on custom duties from the Southern African Customs Union.
7. A large portion of the adult population had HIV/AIDS in 2017
Numbers from UNICEF revealed that Eswatini is the country with the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. They estimate that at least 210,000 people are living with HIV in this nation. It is a disease that has killed many Swazis and also produces economic instability. In 2017, at least one-quarter of the adults in Eswatini were infected with HIV/AIDS.
8. Sibebe Rock in Eswatini is the second-largest monolith in the world
The largest monolith in the world is in Australia. It is called Uluru and was recently banned from climbing. In Eswatini, however, lies the second-largest monolith on Earth. It is called Sibebe Rock and located outside Mbabane.
Sibebe Rock is about 3 billion years old and was created from a volcanic eruption. It rises up to 1,488 meters and covers 16,500 hectares.
9. Eswatini’s king has 15 wives
Its current king, Mswati III has 15 wives, an interesting Eswatini fact. He can even take more at an annual dance that takes place in the country called the reed dance. This is an event where they celebrate chastity and virginity. His father, however, had 125 wives in total.
10. The Makhonjwa Mountains are 3.6 billion years old
The Makhonjwa Mountains that are located both in South Africa and Eswatini are about 3.6 billion years old. This makes them one of the oldest mountain ranges on Earth.
11. They hold the record for the longest-reigning monarch
The current king’s father, Sobhuza II of Swaziland, has the record for the longest-reigning monarch in the world. He ruled for 82 years and 253 days. His father died when he was just four months old and, therefore, became king immediately.
Eswatini is a very interesting country for many reasons. They are the last absolute monarchy in the world and many clans add diversity to the nation. Natural formations, such as the Sibebe Rock and the numerous rivers, make this African country unique.
I hope that this article on Eswatini facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!