|National motto: Siyinquaba|
(Swati: "We are the fortress")
|Official language||English and Swati[?]|
|Prime Minister||Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini[?]|
- % water
|Ranked 153rd |
- Total (2001)
|Independence||September 6, 1968|
|Time zone||UTC + 2|
|National anthem||Oh God, Bestower of the Blessings of the Swazi[?]|
Although remains of human settlements of more than 100,000 years ago have been found in Swaziland, the current Swazi[?] population migrated there eventually in the 19th century. At the same time, the first whites started to settle in the area. A 1881 convention secured independence for the Swazi nation, but in practice this was not the case. After the Boer Wars, Swaziland effectively became a British colony. The country was eventually granted independence on September 6, 1968. Since then, Swaziland has seen a struggle between pro-democracy activists and the totalitarian monarchy.
The head of state is the king, which since 1986 has been King Mswati III. As the monarch, he does not only appoint the prime minister - the head of government - but also appoints a small number representatives for both chambers of the Libandla (parliament). The Senate consists of 30 members, while the House of Assembly has 65 seats, 55 of which are occupied by elected representatives (elections held every 5 years).
Swaziland is divided into four districts:
Swaziland offers a wide variety of landscapes, from the mountains along the Mozambican border to savannahs in the east and rainforest in the northwest. Several rivers flow through the country, such as the Lusutfu River[?]. With 50,000 inhabitants, the capital city of Mbabane is the largest town in the nation; others include Manzini[?], Lobamba[?] and Siteki[?].
In this small landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies more than 80% of the population. Manufacturing features a number of agroprocessing factories. Mining has declined in importance in recent years: diamond mines have shut down because of the depletion of easily accessible reserves; high-grade iron ore deposits were depleted by 1978; and health concerns have cut world demand for asbestos. Exports of soft drink concentrate, sugar, and wood pulp are the main earners of hard currency. Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa from which it receives nine-tenths of its imports and to which it sends more than two-thirds of its exports. Remittances from the Southern African Customs Union and Swazi workers in South African mines substantially supplement domestically earned income. The government is trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign investment. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and sometimes floods persist as problems for the future. Prospects for 2002 are strengthened by the country's status as a beneficiary of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act initiative.
The majority of the population consists of Swazi[?], but there are also small numbers of Zulu, Europeans and Mozambican refugees. The official languages are Swati and English; the latter is also the official written language. The chief religion is Christianity, be it blended with several indigenous religions. There are also Jewish and Muslim communities.