Country facts

History of Eswatini

The Eswatini people, descended from the Southern Bantu who migrated from Central Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries together with the Xhosas and the Zulus, which belong to the Nguni subgroup. The Eswatini ancestors, the Nkosi Dlamini, broke away from the mainstream of Nguni migrants led by Chief Ngwane, and settled in the region of the Pongolo river absorbing the Nguni and Sotho clans in the area.

By 1750 they had settled in the Hluti Region in the South of the Kingdom, under King Ngwane 111 of the Nkosi Dlamini clan. The country derives its name from a later King, Mswati 1. However, Ngwane is an alternative name for Eswatini and Dlamini remains the surname of the royal family, while the name Nkosi means King. The historical evolution of the autonomy of the Eswatini Nation was dictated by British rule of southern Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1881 the British government signed a convention recognising Eswatini independence. However, controversial land and mineral rights concessions were made under the authority of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act of 1890 in terms of which the administration of Eswatini was also placed under that of the then South African Republic (Transvaal).

At the commencement of the Anglo Boer war, Britain placed Eswatini under its direct jurisdiction as a Protectorate and repeated representations especially relating to land issues by the King and his Councillors which affected the political process, were rebuffed.

Nevertheless, the Eswatini independence Constitution was promulgated by Britain in November 1963 in terms of which a legislative Council and an Executive Council were established. This development was opposed by the Eswatini National Council (liqoqo), as it was not in accord with the wishes and aspirations of the Eswatini Nation.

Despite such opposition, elections took place and the first Legislative Council of Eswatini was constituted on 9 September 1964. Changes to the original constitution proposed by the Legislative Council, were accepted by Britain and a new Constitution providing for a House of Assembly and Senate, was drawn up. Elections under this Constitution were held in 1967.

Background

The Kingdom of Eswatini is a small landlocked country which covers just over 17,000 square kilometers and is about the same size as Wales. It is arguably the smallest country in the Southern hemisphere, situated between the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and Mozambique at a latitude of 31 degrees, 30 minutes east of Greenwich and a longitude of 26 degrees, 30 minutes south of the equator. The country is often referred to as the Switzerland of Africa. It offers a magnificent mountain scenery with unique, ancient rock formations, which are a source of fascinations for geologists and scholars, as well as visitors.

The Kingdom comprises four topographical and climatic areas, which vary from 400 to 1800 metres above sea level., each with its own climate and characteristics. The mountainous highveld to the west comprises rivers, waterfalls and gorges and has a temperate climate of warm, wet summers and dry winters when the temperature can rise sharply during the day but with cold nights. Covering about 40% of the country. While this area is drought-prone, sugar is successfully grown commercially on a wide scale under irrigation. Cattle faming is also extensively carried out here.

The smallest region is Lubombo, which borders with Mozambique. This subtropical area is typified by mountainous scenery and abundant and animal life Mixed farming is the main activity here.The nearest harbour is at Maputo which is about 235 kilometres from Mbabane, the administrative capital and 200 kilometer from Matsapha, the country’s main industrial area.

Eswatini is one of Africa’s stable countries and enjoys a sound investment climate, and offers:

  • Long history of political stability, safe and secure environment
  • Free-market economy
  • General incentive package offering tax allowances Dividends, interest, and profits freely repatriated
  • General Corporate tax of 30%
  • A Corporate tax rate of 10% for qualifying investments in Manufacturing Tourism, and International Services Sectors
  • Expropriation, and Nationalization is prohibited by law.
  • Eswatini offers an Excellent Business Infrastructure
  • Modern Infrastructure
  • Good quality roads, rail and air link to surrounding countries and beyond
  • Access to advanced factory shells and fully serviced sites mainly in Matsapha Industrial Estate
  • Inland dry port centrally located in Matsapha to minimize time and cost. Easy access to Durban (500 km) and Richards Bay Ports in South Africa (400 km) and Maputo Port in Mozambique (200 km)
  • Modern telecommunication – digital system in place with satellite communication, cellular phones and INTERNET service provider (ISP)
  • High quality utilities
  • Banking services and finance company
  • English speaking skilled and trainable labour
  • High Quality Life
  • Health Facilities at international standards
  • Internationally recognized educational and training institution
  • World class hotels, golf courses and sports facilities

Geography

Before time began, primeval forces shook the land we know today, as Africa. The earth tipped and tilted, the eastern edge of the continent fell away from the interior plateau and created a massive and awe inspiring escarpment. Eswatini lies across this great geological fault which runs from the Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho, north through the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, forms the Great Rift Valley of Kenya and, eventually, peters out in present-day Turkey.
A small, land-locked Kingdom, Eswatini is bordered in the North, West and South by the Republic of South Africa and by Mozambique in the East. Although Eswatini has a land area of only 17,364 square kilometers, roughly the size of Wales or the American State of New Jersey, it contains four separate geographical regions. These run from North to South and are determined by altitude

Climate

The seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere with December being mid-summer and June mid-winter. Generally speaking, rain falls mostly during the summer months, often in the form of thunderstorms. Winter is the dry season. Annual rainfall is highest on the Highveld in the West, between 1000 and 2000 mm depending on the year. The further East, the less rain, with the Lowveld recording 500 to 900 mm per annum.Variations in temperature are also related to the altitude of the different regions. The Highveld temperature is temperate and, seldom, uncomfortably hot while the Lowveld may record temperatures around 40 degrees in summer. Eswatini is a year-round destination with plenty of sunshine. Whatever your favourite activity; hiking, pony-trekking, golf, it may be enjoyed at any time. There are, however, a couple of points to note. The vegetation in Nature Reserves is at its thickest during the summer months and those keen on game viewing should visit during winter. On the other hand, bird watchers are advised to visit Eswatini during the summer months as some species are migratory and the greatest number of birds will be seen at this time.
The average temperatures at Mbabane, according to seasons:
Spring
September – October 18 degrees Celsius
Summer
November – March 20 degrees Celsius
Autumn
April – May 17 degrees Celsius
Winter
June – August 13 degrees Celsius

Landscape

Eswatini’s topography varies from east to west. The highest point being the pick of Bulembu mountain 1200m above sea level and the lowest is the Usuthu river at 20m above sea level.This huge altitude difference provides good scenic spots and drive ways.

Regions

Eswatini though very small in size has four different regions determined by altitude. In all four regions, there are different life styles. It is quite interesting to stay on the eastern part of the country and learn a day to day home activities. Migrating to the west or centre of the country one fills like he is on a different country.

Along the eastern border with Mocambique is the Lubombo , a mountain ridge, at an altitude of around 600 meters. The mountains are broken by the gorges of three rivers, the Ngwavuma, the Usutu and the Mbuluzi. This is cattle ranching country.

The Highveld , along the western border of the country, with an average altitude of 1200 meters, lies on the edge of the escarpment. Between the mountains rivers rush and tumble through deep gorges making this a most scenic region. Mbabane, the capital, is located on the Highveld.

Spectacular views may be enjoyed out over the Middleveld , lying at an average 700 meters above sea level. This is the most densely populated region of Eswatini with a lower rainfall than the mountains. Manzini, the principal commercial and industrial city, is situated in the Middleveld.

The Lowveld of Eswatini, at around 250 meters, is less populated than other areas and presents a typical African bush country of thorn trees and grasslands. Development of the region was inhibited, in early days, by the scourge of malaria.