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Eswatini (Swaziland) History, Language and Culture

History of Eswatini (Swaziland)

Following the Boer War of 1899-1902, Eswatini (Swaziland) became a British Protectorate in 1907 and later became independent in September 1968. After independence, the British refused to hand over Swazi territory to South Africa, and instead administered Eswatini (Swaziland) as a 'High Commission Territory' – one of three established by a 1910 Act of Parliament.

Since independence, the country's domestic politics have suffered constant turbulence. Between 1973 and 1978, the constitution was suspended and a state of emergency imposed at the instigation of the king. Political parties, public gatherings and freedom of speech were all outlawed. In 1978, a new constitution concentrated political power in the hands of the monarch, who appointed a prime minister and cabinet; the state of emergency remained in force, however. An elected parliament of 30 members, the Libandla, was established, although its functions were restricted to conveying advice to the king and his principal advisory body, the Liqoqo (Supreme Council of State).

The current monarch, King Mswati III, was crowned in April 1986. Political stability continued to prove elusive during the late-1980s – the Mswati monarchy was repeatedly threatened by plots organised by dissident members of the royal family and disaffected politicians but all were stifled with apparent ease. The focus of opposition has been the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), which operated largely clandestinely until February 1992, when it declared itself a legal opposition party – in contravention of the government ban on political association – and demanded a constitutional referendum. Although steady pressure has been exerted against the king from both inside and outside the country, he remains impervious to any entreaties and continues to be one of the world's few absolute monarchs. The current premier, who took up the post in 2008, is Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini.

Eswatini’s (Swaziland's) foreign relations are dominated by South Africa. In general, foreign relations have undergone a steady improvement since 1994 and the advent of majority rule in South Africa. However, there are a number of territorial disputes in which Eswatini (Swaziland) claims tracts of land in the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces.

Eswatini (Swaziland) is a poor country and has suffered from several serious food shortages. Moreover, according to a January 2003 World Health Organisation report, the country has the world's highest per capita incidence of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 40% of the adult population afflicted. Average life expectancy was 35 years and falling. However, due to the implementation of better HIV/AIDS awareness, and increased access to medication and condoms, the average life expectancy has increased to 49 years and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has decreased to around 27% in 2016 - although it still holds the title of the country with the highest prevalence.

Eswatini (Swaziland) Culture

Religion in Eswatini (Swaziland)

82% Zionist (mix of Christianity and traditional beliefs).

Social Conventions in Eswatini (Swaziland)

Traditional ways of life are still upheld and Swazi culture, in the form of music, dance, poetry and craftsmanship, plays an important part in daily life. Casual wear is standard, although formal wear is customary at casinos and sophisticated hotels. Visitors wishing to camp near villages should first inform the local chief.

Photography: Permission to photograph individuals should always be sought. In some cases, a gratuity fee may be required, especially if the subject has gone to some effort - for example, by wearing traditional regalia. It is prohibited to photograph the royal palace, the royal family, uniformed police, army personnel, army vehicles or aircraft and bank buildings.

Language in Eswatini (Swaziland)

English and siSwati.

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