Swaziland is known for being one of the smallest countries in Africa and for having a very rich and fascinating history. So fascinating, in fact, that the country isn’t even named Swaziland anymore! But what has Swaziland become, where is it, and what is the country like now?
Let’s look at some of the most important things you should know – with some fun facts about Swaziland, or Eswatini, you’ll want to remember for the next pub quiz.
1. Swaziland or Eswatini?
The name Swaziland may or may not ring a bell. That’s because the country formerly known as Swaziland is now known as Eswatini. More specifically, the country is known as the Kingdom of Eswatini.
2. Why the change?
There are actually two main reasons why Swaziland decided to change its name. The first reason was born from the need to break the country from its colonial past, as it was formerly a British colony from 1903 to 1968.
The second reason was to stop people from confusing Swaziland with Switzerland! The change was officially announced on April 19th, 2018, by King Mswati III. It’s one of the more recent name-changes in territorial history, which is why many people still remember the country by its original name.
3. What does Eswatini mean?
Aside from being a beautiful name, Eswatini also has plenty of meaning! It means “Land of the Swazis.” And many of the country people were already referring to the land as Eswatini before the name change, so it seemed like the right call!
4. Here’s where to find it.
Eswatini is a country landlocked in Southern Africa. This means that its borders are completely surrounded by other countries. These include Mozambique to the east and South Africa to the southeast, south, north, and west.
5. It’s… surprisingly small!
Eswatini covers an area of about 17,363 square km. This makes it one of Africa’s smallest countries! You couldn’t walk it in a day – but it’s comparable to the size of Northern Ireland, Wales, or Slovenia.
6. It makes up for size in sheer height!
As small as Eswatini may appear on a map, don’t be fooled, it more than makes up for it in height! The country’s terrain is mostly hilly and mountainous, with the biggest mountain in the area being Emlembe. At its peak, it reaches a height of 1,862 m.
7. What’s the climate like out here?
The climate in Eswatini is generally classified as subtropical. It has two main seasons – summer, which runs from October to April, which also happens to be its rainy season – and winter, which is its dry season.
8. Over a million people call Eswatini home.
As of 2021, 1.192 million people were living in Eswatini. And, keeping roots in the country’s original name, the people of Eswatini are known as the Swazi or Swati.
9. Two capitals… really?
If you want to know more about the capital of Eswatini, then you’ll have to let us know which one you’re referring to! This is because Eswatini actually has two capitals – there is Mbabane, the administrative capital, and Lobamba, the royal and legislative capital.
10. What do people speak in Eswatini?
There are two official languages in Eswatini; Swazi and English. However, many languages are spoken there, including Zulu, Afrikaans, Chichewa, and more. But, if you are traveling there from abroad, you’ll be glad to know that most of the people do indeed speak English!
FAQs about Swaziland
Is it safe to travel to Swaziland / Eswatini?
Petty crime is pretty common in Eswatini, and violent crime occurs occasionally depending on where you visit, so caution is advised. However, it is also a beautiful country with a lot to explore! So, if you do go, try traveling with a guide who knows their way around, and avoid going out at night, especially alone.
What religion is practiced in Swaziland / Eswatini?
The majority of the population in Eswatini is Christian. However, there are other religions practiced here, including Islam. That being said, Muslims are in the minority here.
How cold does it get in Swaziland / Eswatini?
As chilly as it gets in Eswatini, it doesn’t really get freezing! The lowest temperature in the winter is usually about 52º F. So, while you may need a jacket, there’s no reason to break out the ski clothes!
Do you know any fun facts about Swaziland? Share them in the comments below!