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General Swaziland Information: Social

By Richard M. Patricks, SNTC. July 2000.

Around one million (1997 census: 980,000). In South Africa there are over a million Swazis.
Ex-patriate population maybe 10,000.

17,000 sq. km. (second smallest in Africa, after Gambia).

Swazi (siSwati). One of the Nguni sub-group (others: Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele of ZImbabwe and Ndebele of southern Transvaal). Most similar to Zulu. Example:
siSwati: Indvodza nemfati batala bantfwana, umfana nentfombatana. isiZulu: Indoda nomfazi bazala abantwana, umfana nentombazana
English: A man and a woman give birth to children, a boy and a girl. SiSwati has been taught in schools since 1978, before that Zulu was taught.

Dlamini family has ruled since around 1750. Swazi territory at its maximum around 1860 was about twice the size of the present kingdom. "Paper conquest" by British and Boers in 1880s. Transvaal ruled Swaziland 1894-1899. Britain ruled from 1902 to independence in 1968. (Flag & parliament established in 1967).

More on Swazi History

Hhohho Region
Mbabane Founded in late 1880s by canteen-keeper Mickey Wells. Established as capital by British in 1903. Main street: Allister Miller St., named after Swaziland's most prominent white settler. Allister Miller (1864 - 1951) started "Times of Swaziland" in 1897.

Pigg's Peak Early gold-mining centre, named after Willam Pigg (1831 - 1902), English prospector and miner. He discovered a payable quartz reef in 1884, on a mountain named after him. Today half a dozen disused mines can be visited, plus ore-crushing plant etc. Town's economy based on pine plantations since 1950s, currently boosted by construction of Maguga Dam, 10 kilometres to the south. Nearby Barberton was founded on gold in 1885. Steynsdorp was named after Commandant Piet Steyn in 1886. It is visible from Ngwenya Mines.

Manzini Region
Manzini (formerly Bremersdorp) Founded in late I 880s by store-keeper Albert Bremer. Established as capital by Transvaal in 1895. With adjacent Matsapha industrial area, largest urban population in the Kingdom.

Shiselweni Region
Nhlangano (formerly Goedgegun) Name means "meeting". Britain's King George VI met Sobhuza II here in I 947, to thank him for the war effort.

Lubombo Region
Siteki (Stegi) Transvaal placed magistrate here in 1896. Administrative centre. Perhaps Swaziland's most pleasant climate.

National Anthem
Words (in SiSwati) thank God for country, King, and wisdom. Tune by musicologist and linguist Professor David Rycroft.

Flag (since 1967)
Black & white shield (standing for racial harmony) on background of blue (sky), yellow (gold/mineral wealth) and red (fertile soil). (The shield is that of the "Sotja" (soldier) regiment which served in World War II.)

Royal/Government Coat Of Arms
Lion (representing King) and Elephant (representing Queen Mother), supporting a Swazi shield. On top of the shield, King's "crown", made of feathers, worn during iNcwala. Below shield, national motto: "Siyincaba" - "We are the fortress".

Six hospitals, plus several health centres with beds, and clinics. Mostly government, some mission and private.

staple crop maize (introduced 1830s, but only replaced sorghum [still used for beer] in 1890s)

More on traditional foods

has increased in last 10 years but not like S. Africa. Death of police on duty very rare. Public chases muggers & pickpockets. Death penalty exists in theory, last execution: 1981

Primary - 7 years. Secondary - 5 years (British 0-level system).
I university (UNISWA) with three campuses - Kwaluseni (Matsapha), Luyengo (near Malkems) [agriculture] and Mbabane [health sciences].
3 teacher training colleges and various technical colleges.
Waterford - Kamhlaba school in Mbabane teaches I. B. (International Baccalaureate) to variety of nationalities. (Sobhuza II name it "Kamhlaba" - "place of the world")

Christianity widespread but no international church predominates.
1st Christian mission (Wesleyan) at Mahamba, 1844 - abandoned 1846, returned 1880.
Wesleyans followed by Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics, Nazarenes, S. A. General Mission, etc.
Thousands of separate (independent) Zionist Christian Churches - including "white gown" sects and "red gown" sects.
Biggest religious holiday: Good Friday.

Protected Areas/Reserves
Swaziland National Trust Commission runs four reserves:
Mantenga (with Cultural Village), Malolotja (with Hawane Reserve and dam), Mlawula.
The Reilly family runs three reserves:
Mlilwane ("little fire"); Hlane ("wilderness") - lions; Mkhaya (type of tree) elephant, black & white rhino.
Other small reserves:
Phophonyane (near Pigg's Peak, with Phophonyane Falls),
Nisela (near Big Bend), with small Cultural Village, and lions.

More on Nature Reserves

Site Map
Reference Material

Visiting Swaziland
Swaziland: Economic
Swaziland: Political

Visitor Information


Conservation Information

SNTC Headquarters: Parliament Road. P O Box 100, Lobamba, Swaziland. Tel: (+268) 2416 1516, 2416 1489, 2416 1179. Fax: (+268) 2416 1875, 2416 1480. Email: info@sntc.org.sz
National Museum:
Tel: (+268) 2416 1179, 2416 1875
Fax: 2416 1875
Email: curator@sntc.org.sz
King Sobhuza II Memorial Park:
Tel: (+268) 2416 1179, 2416 1489
Fax: 2416 1875
Email: ksmp@sntc.org.sz
Malolotja Nature Reserve:
Tel/Fax: (+268) 2444 3241
Cell: 7660 6755
Email: culturalvillage@sntc.org.sz
Mantenga Nature Reserve:
Tel: (+268) 2416 1151
2416 1178, Fax: 2416 1480
Email: culturalvillage@sntc.org.sz
Magadzavane Lodge
Mlawula Nature Reserve:
Tel: (+268) 2343 5108/9
Fax: 2343 5111
Email: magadzavane@sntc.org.sz