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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
The Swazi are descendants of the Nguni people, Bantu-speaking tribes from central Africa that migrated to the southern part of the continent in the late 15th century. In the mid-18th century, the king of one of the clans, Ngwane III, settled his people in present-day southern Swaziland; today the Swazis consider Ngwane to be their first king. Over the next century, Swazi kings continued to bring together separate tribes and to expand the kingdom, and by 1870 the future for the young nation looked promising.
Over the next several decades, though, Europeans seeking farmland began flooding the country, and soon the British were competing with the Boers for power and land in the area. The conflict led to the second Anglo–Boer War, in 1902, whose outcome was the Boers’ defeat and the British seizure of control over Swaziland as a protectorate. From then on, Swazis, under the leadership of King Sobhuza II and his mother (who
guided the country when he was still a boy), struggled to regain their independence and reclaim their land through nonviolent means. Thanks largely to Sobhuza’s efforts, Swaziland became an autonomous nation again in 1968. Shortly after Sobhuza passed away, in 1982, his son Mswati III, known as The Lion, took the throne. Since then, Mswati has continued to maintain the traditional Swazi way of life but is widely criticized for his lavish personal spending and crushing of opponents.
The Top 5: Local Advice
1. The Kingdom of Swaziland is a land-locked country, bordered by Mozambique to the east and by South Africa on the other sides. The smallest country in the Southern Hemisphere, Swaziland is split into four regions: Hhohho, in the north, Lubombo in the east, Manzini in the central part of the country, and Shiselweni in the south.
2. Swaziland’s local currency is the Lilangeni (SZL), whose value is equal to that of the South African rand. (Rand dollars may be used in the country as well.) One U.S. dollar is equal to approximately seven Lilangeni.
3. The Times of Swaziland, a privately owned daily newspaper, and the pro-government Swazi Observer are the country’s main publications.
4. English and siSwati (also called Swati or Swazi) are the official languages in Swaziland.
5. Smoking in public places is currently permitted in Swaziland, though there’s a bill awaiting Cabinet approval that proposes a ban on it in public and in private workplaces.