A pair of rhino on the road at Mkhaya

eSwatini, Africa's Last Kingdom - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 16th September 2018

Is eSwatini a Poor Country?

eSwatini is an absolute monarchy, although the king does rule in conjunction with his mother (known as the Queen-mother) and parliament. It’s a highly polarised society, with some extremely poor housing and enclosed affluent areas and shopping malls.

Facts and Factoids

  • eSwatini is Africa’s last remaining monarchy.
  • This is an extremely male dominated society, where the sexes are brought up very much to follow their respective roles. Polygamy is allowed. The current king has 14 wives (or 17 depending on who you believe). His father had 60 (or 75). Each has their own palace, as do some of the many princes. New roads have been constructed, especially between the palaces, government buildings and the airport. The king is obliged to take leave of his mother, so as to be in touch with his ancestors, last thing before he leaves the country and she must also be his first port of call when he returns. In addition, he needs to be able to zip between his wives, of course.
  • The country’s Houses of Parliament are in the city of Lobamba, where the royal families have lived for over 200 years. Lobamba and Mbabane are both capitals of eSwatini. Mbabane, in the hills, was established by the British, as they wanted a cooler climate for the government officials to work
  • eSwatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa; despite this, its climate and topography are diverse, ranging from a cool and mountainous highveld to a hot and dry lowveld.
  • The official languages are English and siSwati, a language loosely related to isixhosa, the official language of South Africa.
  • The currency is interchangeable with the South African rand, with which it is linked, and the data download speed on roaming (3G) is pretty awful

A Very Brief History of eSwatini

  • The Swazis established their kingdom in the mid-eighteenth century under the leadership of Ngwane III.
  • Its current boundaries were drawn up in 1881, after the Second Boer War
  • Swaziland became a British protectorate in 1903, after the British won the final Boer War,
  • Swaziland achieved full independence once more, in 1968.

Why Did the Country Change its Name?


Swaziland officially changed its country name from The Kingdom of Swaziland to The Kingdom of eSwatini in April 2018. The change was announced at the 50/50 celebrations (50 years since independence and the King’s 50th birthday). The new name derives from Mswati II, the 19th-century king under whose rule Swazi territory was expanded and unified. It means “place of the Swazi people” and is intended to remove the country further from the British (who named it Swaziland) and distinguish the country more clearly from Switzerland.

Is eSwatini Safe to Visit?

Advice given is that crime levels are low, but street crimes and burglaries do occur, sometimes involving violence. There have been numerous incidences of car hijackings on major routes from South Africa and Mozambique. Vehicles have been taken at gunpoint. Avoid walking in the downtown areas of Mbabane and Manzini after dark and do not travel around in remote rural areas unless in a group. There is often an increase in criminal activity during the festive season.

I didn't encounter any problems.

What To Do in eSwatini?

  • Great game viewing and parks, although at times it is a bit like being in a giant zoo
  • Gorgeous mountain scenery
  • And cultural villages and assorted royal buildings
  • I flew in from Zambia. I'm going onto Reunion.

Join the discussion, leave a comment

Been there? Something to add? Want some advice? Just want to say Hello? Get in touch…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

hello world!

Newsletter Subscription

Stay in touch. Get travel tips, updates on my latest adventures and posts on out of the way places, straight to your Inbox.

I keep your data private and only share your data with third parties that make this service possible. Privacy Policy. No spam I promise. Unsubscribe any time.