September 6, 2010

Independence Day – Swaziland

On this day in 1968, Swaziland be
came fully independent of the United Kingdom.

This small, landlocked nation is almost entirely surrounded by the larger country South Africa (with a small border shared with Mozambique in the east). Landlocked means that the nation doesn't have access to an ocean or sea. It's locked up in the middle of land.

About three quarters of Swaziland's people
work in subsistence farming, which means that they farm for themselves and their families and have basically no surplus crop to sell. Subsistence farmers grow their own food, build their own houses, and live without regularly buying things in any kind of store or marketplace. More than half of the Swazis survive on the equivalent of US $ 1.25 per day!

Tragically, the HIV infection rate in Swaziland is very high—the highest in the world. More than half of all people in their 20s are infected! Some think that this disease threatens the very existence of the country.

Swaziland is ruled by a king who traditionally rules along with his mother or a ritual substitute. The king chooses a prime minister and also appoints a small number of legislative representatives, with the people electing the majority of the legislators. Apparently the king has an awful lot of power, which some Swazis don't like. However, the majority of the population strongly support their king and governmental structure.

  • Swaziland preserves its folk culture by educating and including young people in its traditions and institutions. The photo above shows a princess during the traditional Reed Dance. And here is a video with some kids and foreigners learning a Swazi dance and song.

  • Check out this slide show about Swaziland. (It is labeled “Mbabane,” which is another name for the country.) Here you can see the variety of land, animals, modern and traditional cultures, and more!

Here is a map of Africa's southern end, with Swaziland in red.


  1. Interesting. I kind of wish you'd included a map though. I have a hard time visualizing locations.

  2. I updated it with a map, for your viewing (or, rather, visualizing, pleasure.