Skip to main content
Create interactive lessons using any digital content including wikis with our free sister product
. Get it on the
Swaziland is a fascinating country based in the south most parts of Africa. The pure beauty of the landscape and the trend setting culture will amaze and astonish us ignorant americans.
The Kingdom of Swaziland's Flag
Swaziland is home to roughly 1,185,000 swazili people.
The majority of Swaziland's population is ethnically
, mixed with a small number of
, mostly people of
descent. Traditionally Swazi have been
and herders, but most now mix such activities with work in the growing urban formal economy and in government. Some Swazi work in the mines in South Africa.
Swaziland also received
settlers and African refugees from
in Swaziland is sometimes mixed with traditional beliefs and practices. Many traditionalists believe that most Swazi ascribe a special spiritual role to the monarch. Residents of Swaziland have the lowest documented life expectancy in the world at 31.88 years, less than half the world average of 69.4.
] (also known as
) is a
Group, spoken in Swaziland and
. It has 2.5 million speakers and is taught in schools. It is an official language of Swaziland (along with
) and one of the official languages of
About 76,000 people in the country speak
] Tsonga, which is spoken by many people throughout the region is spoken by about 19,000 people in Swaziland.
is also spoken by some residents of
Religion in Swaziland
The most common religion in Swaziland is
which totals 82.70% of the total population, in which various Protestant and
indigenous African churches
, constitute the majority of the Christians, followed closely by
. There are also non-Christian religions practiced in the country such as
The principle Swazi social unit is the homestead, a traditional beehive hut thatched with dry grass. In a polygamous homestead, each wife has her own hut and yard surrounded by reed fences. There are three structures for sleeping, cooking, and storage (brewing beer). In larger homesteads there are also structures used as bachelors' quarters and guest accommodation.
Central to the traditional homestead is the cattle byre, a circular area enclosed by large logs interspaced with branches. The cattle byre has ritual as well as practical significance as a store of wealth and symbol of prestige. It contains sealed grain pits. Facing the cattle byre is the great hut which is occupied by the mother of the headman.
The headman is central to all homestead affairs and he is often
. He leads through example and advises his wives on all social affairs of the home as well as seeing to the larger survival of the family. He also spends time socializing with the young boys, who are often his sons or close relatives, advising them on the expectations of growing up and manhood.
is a traditional diviner chosen by the ancestors of that particular family. The training of the Sangoma is called "kwetfwasa". At the end of the training, a graduation ceremony takes place where all the local sangoma come together for feasting and dancing. The diviner is consulted for various reasons, such the cause of sickness or even death. His diagnosis is based on "kubhula", a process of communication, through trance, with the natural super-powers. The
(a medical and pharmaceutical specialist in modern terms) possesses the bone throwing skill ("kushaya ematsambo") used to determine the cause of the sickness.
The most important cultural event in Swaziland is the
ceremony. It is held on the fourth day after the full moon nearest the longest day, December 21. Incwala is often translated in English as 'first fruits ceremony', but the King's tasting of the new harvest is only one aspect among many in this long pageant. Incwala is best translated as 'Kingship Ceremony' : when there is no king, there is no Incwala. It is high treason for any other person to hold an Incwala.
Every Swazi may take part in the public parts of the Incwala. The climax of the event is the fourth day of the Big Incwala. The key figures are the King, Queen Mother, royal wives and children, the royal governors (
), the chiefs, the regiments, and the "bemanti" or "water people".
Swaziland's most well-known cultural event is the annual
. In the eight day ceremony, girls cut reeds and present them to the queen mother and then dance. (There is no formal competition.) It is done in late August or early September. Only childless, unmarried girls can take part. The aims of the ceremony are to preserve girls' chastity, provide tribute labour for the Queen mother, and to encourage solidarity by working together. The royal family appoints a commoner maiden to be "induna" (captain) of the girls and she announces over the radio the dates of the ceremony. She will be an expert dancer and knowledgeable on royal protocol. One of the King's daughters will be her counterpart.
Today's Reed Dance is not an ancient ceremony, but developed out of the old "
" custom. In "umchwasho", all young girls were placed in a female age-regiment. If any girl fell pregnant outside of marriage, her family paid a fine of one cow to the local chief. After a number of years, when the girls had reached a marriageable age, they would perform labour service for the Queen Mother, ending with dancing and feasting. The country was under the
of "umchwasho" until 19 August 2005. This interpretation of "umchwasho" conflicts deeply with the common requirement of girls to be demonstrably fertile prior to marriage. Very young girls will usually have a child out of wedlock as proof of fertility. The child often is the offspring of the girl's intended, but when there seems to be no success there and the man's fertility is secretly questioned, the girl may go to a relative of the man's or even her own to demonstrate her fertility. This is a very closely guarded secret held by only those directly involved and the groom will never discover the secret. The child becomes the property of the girls father. And after the marriage prior to which the groom pays a specified dowry, the groom may then redeem his child from the father through an agreed compensation.
All tourists to the kingdom of Swaziland require a valid passport or travel document. Citizens of the United Kingdom and most british commonweaths, including most African states, do not require visas.
Swaziland is a country in Africa, where the only legalized gambling is in their casinos. There are three casinos throughout its three cities. The first is the Royal Swazi Sun Valley Casino, which is located in the city of Manzini.
The Royal Swazi Sun Valley Casino holds one hundred and forty-eight slot machines and video poker games. It also has thirteen gaming tables including blackjack, roulette, and poker, as well as a bingo hall, which seats two hundred people.
This Swaziland casino has a hotel, which offers its guests one hundred and forty four rooms and five suites. There are a lot of amenities available at the hotel including airport transport, bowling, golf, horse riding, squash, and tennis, to name but a few. The dress code for the casino is casual and it is English speaking.
There are two restaurants at this Swaziland casino, the first being the Planters Restaurant and Bar which offers Asian cuisine. They offer various juicy grills, curries, and spicy prawn dishes. The other is the Terrace Restaurant which offers buffets cooked to order for its diners.
The Royal Swazi Sun Valley Casino also has three bars. The Casino Bar offers its occupants live entertainment and a wide range of exotic cocktails. The Country Club Bar overlooks the championship golf course situated there and the majestic mountains beyond. The third bar is situated at poolside, offering refreshing beverages to the pool users.
The second Swaziland casino is the Nhlangano Sun Hotel and Casino, which is located in the Makosini Valley near the Southern African border. This casino can be found in the city of Shiselweni and is open from 6 pm till close. This casino offers thirty-eight slot machines and video poker terminals. There are also three gaming tables including blackjack and roulette. The hotel itself has a mere forty-five rooms, which are in a chalet style, yet offers a wide range of amenities including a swimming pool, a baby sitting service, golf, and tennis.
The third casino situated in Uganda is the Piggs Peak Casino in the city of Hhohho, which is an English-speaking city. The casino is open from 9 am to 4 pm and holds eighty slot machines and video poker games. There are also seven gaming tables including blackjack, poker, and roulette. Though the casino has a casual dress code, it offers its gamers two restaurants and the hotel has one hundred and six rooms for the guests. The hotel also has a lot of amenities for its visitors including squash, tennis, and horseback riding.
Swaziland is a tiny mountainous Kingdom, sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique, has been dubbed the 'Switzerland of Africa'. African culture and traditions flourish here alongside some modern luxury hotels and excellent wildlife reserves. Swaziland is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, but it has a big heart despite its depressed economy. The capital, Mbabane, lies at the northern end of the lush Ezulwini Valley: a small, unpretentious town that caters well for tourists. Among the country's main attractions are Mlilwane, a well-established game sanctuary; the magnificent Mantenga Falls; the casino resort of Piggs Peak; and the annual ceremony of the reed dances at the Royal Kraal in Lobamba on the country's eastern border. Swaziland is also known for its exquisite arts and crafts and its breathtaking scenery, especially in the western highlands, which rise to more than 6,000 feet (1,829m), riven with abundant rivers, waterfalls and forested gorges.
The landlocked Kingdom of Swaziland is surrounded on the north and south by provinces of South Africa, and on the east is bordered by Mozambique. The Kingdom provides travellers the ideal gateway between Kwazulu-Natal and the Kruger National Park, as well as Johannesburg and Maputo - no better route is available with added advantage of discovering a whole new country filled with bygone African traditions and culture.
With an area of just over 17,000 square kilometres, Swaziland is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere (comparable to the size of Wales in the United Kingdom, and the state of New Jersey in America). Swaziland covers an area of approximately 193 kilometres from north to south, and 145 kilometres from east to west.
Small as it may be, Swaziland is an exciting tourist destination with its art and craft outlets and traditional markets and wildlife reserves. At Mlilwane Game Reserve tame birds and animals are free to come and go and wander through the camp grounds. Mkhaya Game Reserve offers visitors the opportunity of game viewing by open Landrover with guides.
A major attraction for the visit to Swaziland is the casinos. These are located at the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel complex, in the heart of the Ezulwini Valley, between Mbabane and Manzini, at the Nhlangano Sun in the South, and at the Protea Piggs Peak Hotel and Casino in the North.
Swaziland offers many scenic drives. North of Mbabane, the road to Luve is known as Pine Valley with a series of waterfalls on the Black Umbeluzi River and the granite heights of "Bald Rock". The drive to Piggs Peak, in the north is one of the most scenic in the country. The Malolotja Nature Reserve lies to the west of the road and here, after a stiff walk, you can view the Malolotja Falls, the highest in Swaziland.
Swaziland also hosts a large number of internationally renowned hotels and a number of thermal springs where visitors can relax and unwind, like the Spa at the Royal Swazi Sun.
Conditions in Swaziland vary according to altitude, with the higher areas being generally cloudy, misty and several degrees cooler than the rest of the country. The mountainous region in the west, where most tourists spend their time, is humid and wet, the rain falling in occasional violent storms. In the middle and lowland regions conditions are drier, the climate ranging from sub-tropical to tropical as one moves east. The rainy season is generally between October and May and is warm and wet, while cooler and drier conditions prevail from June to September.
head of state
is the king or
King Mswati III
, who ascended to the throne in 1986 after the death of his father
King Sobhuza II
in 1982 and a period of regency. By tradition, the king reigns along with his mother or a ritual substitute, the
). The former was viewed as the administrative head of state and the latter as a spiritual and national head of state, with real power counter-balancing that of the king, but during the long reign of Sobhuza II the role of the
became more symbolic. As the monarch, the king not only appoints the prime minister—the head of government from the legislature and also with the advice of the advisory council but also appoints a small number of legislatures in both chambers of
(parliament). The king is allowed by the constitution to appoint some members to parliament for special interests. These special interests are citizens who might have been left out by the electorate during the course of elections or didn't enter as candidates. This is done in order to balance views in parliament. Special interests could be people of gender, race, disability, business community, civic society, scholars, chiefs and so on. The
consists of 30 members which some are appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and others elected by the lower house. The
House of Assembly
has 65 seats, 55 of which are occupied by elected representatives from the 55 constituencies around the country, 10 appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and the attorney general is the ex-officio member. Elections are held every five years.
In 1968, Swaziland adopted a
constitution, but in 1973 King Sobhuza II on the advice of parliament at the time suspended it due to wide spread complaints by citizens of the country. In 2001, King Mswati III appointed a committee to draft a new constitution. Drafts were released for comment in May 1999 and November 2000. These were strongly criticized by civil society organizations in Swaziland and
organizations elsewhere. In 2005, the constitution was put into effect, though there is still much debate in the country about the constitutional reforms. From the early seventies, there was active resistance to the royal
. However despite complaints from progressive formations, strong support for the monarchy and the current political system by the majority of the population is still there. This is due to the fact that submissions were made by citizens around the country to commissions including the constitutional draft committee that they would prefer for now to keep the current status quo.
consists of the
(30 seats; 10 members appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the monarch; to serve five-year terms) and the
House of Assembly
(65 seats; 10 members appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by
; to serve five-year terms) elections: House of Assembly – last held 19 September 2008 (next to be held in 2013) election results: House of Assembly – balloting is done on a non-party basis; candidates for election are nominated by the local council of each constituency and 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.
- Britain and the Boer Republic of Transvaal jointly rule Swaziland.
Mbabane, capital of Swaziland
Mbabane: Capital and former HQ of British colonial government
Founded in 1902
- Swaziland becomes a British protectorate.
- Swaziland becomes a British High Commission territory.
- King Sobhuza II succeeds to the throne.
- The Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) is formed.
- Swaziland's first constitution enters into force.
- King Sobhuza establishes a political party, the Imbokodvo National Movement (INM). It secures all the seats in the new Legislative Council.
- A new constitution comes into effect, providing for the introduction of self-government once independence is gained.
- The Legislative Council is dissolved. Elections to a new bicameral parliament - including a House of Assembly and Senate - take place. The INM gains all 24 elective seats in the lower house. Despite not gaining any seats, the NNLC emerges as the main opposition.
- Swaziland is granted formal independence, within the Commonwealth, and adopts a new constitution. Authority is vested in the new parliament, a proportion of the members are nominated by the monarch.
- Elections to the House of Assembly see the INM retaining 21 seats and the NNLC gaining the remaining three.
- King Sobhuza suspends the constitution and bans political parties.
- The parliamentary system is abolished and replaced by traditional tribal communities.
KING MSWATI III
King Mswati studies draft of proposed constitution, 2003
The king considers Swaziland's long-awaited constitution
2001: Profile - Troubled King Mswati
2004: Anger over Swazi king's birthday
- The new constitution enshrines electoral representation by 'Tinkhundla'. Under the system candidates are nominated by Tinkhundla's (local councils) and elected by secret ballot. The king retains the power to appoint a proportion of parliamentarians. Parliament's role is advisory.
- Elections are held.
- The new parliament is opened.
- King Sobhuza's diamond jubilee.
King Mswati III crowned
- The body advising on Swazi tradition - the Swaziland National Council - made up of members of the royal family, is renamed the Supreme Council of State (Liqoqo).
- King Sobhuza dies.
- Queen Mother Dzeliwe is authorised to act as Regent until Prince Makhosetive reaches 21.
- Queen Regent Dzeliwe is deposed. Queen Ntombi, Prince Makhosetive's mother, is made regent.
- The People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) is formed.
Reed dance, Swaziland
The king can choose a new wife at the annual Reed Dance
- Prince Makhosetive is crowned - three years early - and assumes the title of King Mswati III.
- King Mswati dissolves the Supreme Council of State (Liqoqo).
- Elections for the electoral college take place, but turnout is low. Many interpret this as a sign of dissatisfaction with the Tinkhundla system.
- A motion calling for a review of the legislative structure is rejected by the prime minister, despite majority support in the senate.
- Pudemo calls for electoral reform.
- King Mswati agrees to review the Tinkhundla system by setting up a commission. Pudemo rejects the commission.
- The king sets up a second commission to review political reforms.
- Pudemo rejects the second commission's proposals. King Mswati dissolves parliament and announces he will govern by decree until the elections.
- Elections are held.
- The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) organises a general strike.
Trade union demonstration in Mbabane, 2005
Strikes have been held to press for democratic reforms
- Pudemo announces a campaign of civil disobedience, citing the government's failure to respond to demands for a multi-party system and constitutional change. Strike action again takes place.
- King Mswati announces a Constitutional Review Commission to draft proposals for a new constitution.
- Half of the labour force observes a general strike called by the SFTU. The government declares the strike illegal.
September - The king dissolves the National Assembly (the redesignated House of Assembly) to prepare for elections. Elections are held in November.
September - The king forbids men from sleeping with teenage girls for the next five years to help stem the Aids crisis.
April - Constitutional Review Commission recommends King Mswati's powers are extended and that all political parties continue to be banned.
A Swazi Aids orphan
The Aids epidemic has orphaned many thousands of children
BBC News: Aids in Africa
2003: Aids ravages Swazi society
In pictures: Battling hunger and Aids
November - King Mswati takes delivery of a $45m jet, despite the country's parliament voting to cancel the order.
October - Parliamentary elections; pro-democracy activist Obed Dlamini wins a seat.
February - Prime minister declares a humanitarian crisis after three years of erratic rainfall.
March - UN Aids envoy says Swaziland has the world's highest rate of HIV infection.
July - King proposes to build new royal residences to house some of his wives.
March - High Court rules that Swaziland's banned political parties are "non-existent" under the law. The parties had been bidding for a say in a draft constitution.
August - King signs a new constitution. The document has been eight years in the making.
March - 16 opposition activists from the banned Pudemo party are freed on bail after being charged in December and January over series of petrol bomb attacks.
The European Union bans more than 90 airlines, including six registered in Swaziland, in a move to boost air safety.
April - South African police fire at protesters trying to blockade a border crossing with Swaziland to demand political reform there.
April - Six members of the opposition are charged with sedition after trying to block borders with South Africa to mark the anniversary of the 1973 royal decree banning political parties.
July - Thousands protest in the commercial capital Manzini to press for democratic reforms.
February - Opposition groups decide to boycott forthcoming elections as part of their campaign for multi-party elections.
September - Elections held, boycotted by opposition.
Authorities blame failed bomb attack near a royal palace on opposition Pudemo party.
November - Pudemo leader Mario Masuku detained under anti-terror laws over palace bomb attempt.
September - Opposition leader Mario Masuku released from prison, says he will continue to fight for democracy.
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"