Everything you need to know about Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) including background, food culture, history of Eswatini, and popular recipes to make.
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Fun Facts about Eswatini
- The longest reigning monarch in the world was a Swazi king. Sobhuza II, KBE reigned from July 1899- August 1982, for a total of 82 years and 254 days. It is estimated that he had more than 70 wives and 210 children. He took over the throne at 4 months of age when his father died.
- The Ngwenya mine is the world’s oldest mine, and is thought to be used during the stone age.
- Eswatini is famous for Swazi candles! These are beautiful candles that are molded into shapes, normally of animals.
The flag of Eswatini features a large, horizontal blue stripe in the center of the flag bordered by two horizontal yellow stripes, then two horizontal blue stripes on the outside.
The red banner in the center is home to the traditional black and white Nuguni shield made of ox hide with two spears & a staff behind the shield. The feathered tassels hanging off of the spears is called Njobo.
The blue stands for peace and stability in the country. The yellow stands for the country’s resources, mostly the minerals the country produces. The red stands for the struggles of the nation.
The shield is black and white to represent not only the color of the ox, but also the unity of the people of the black and white people of the country.
The presence of the shield represents military traditions and protection from the nation’s enemies.
Eswatini is located in Southern Africa, bordered by Mozambique and South Africa. The capital of the country is Mbabane but the royal family lives in Lobamba. It is about 17,363 square kilometers (6,703 square miles).
The Mt. Makhonjwa mountain range is the oldest mountain range in the world.
Though Eswatini is small, it is home to the “Big 5” animals (lions, rhinos, buffalo, giraffes, and leopards), which makes it a good place for a safari. The national animal, the Thomson’s gazelle, can also be found in the country.
The kingdom was established in the mid-18th century under leadership of Ngwane III, but Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) got its name from a 19th century ruler, King Mswati II. Under him, Swaziland expanded into an empire.
The present boundaries of the country were established during the Scramble for Africa in 1881.
Swaziland was a British protectorate from 1903 until it gained independence on September 6, 1968.
In April 2018, the country changed its (English) name from Swaziland to Eswatini to celebrate 50 years of independence from British rule. The name means “place of the Swazi”.
Eswatini is run by Africa’s last absolute monarchy and the last diarchy. A diarchy means that the country is ruled by two completely independent authorities. In the case of Eswatini, the King rules (and is called the lion), and his mother, his equal in terms of political power, is called the She-Elephant.
Eswatini’s kings are polygamous. Tradition says that the king cannot marry his fiances until they have become pregnant, as a way to prove that they can bear him children.The first wife is called the Ritual wife, and she isn’t allowed to have children.
King Mswati III is the current ruler of Eswatini. King Mswati has 15 wives and (currently) 23 children. The monarchy does not follow the typical “first born son” rule for who takes over the throne. It can be any of the princes.
Members of the royal family are easy to spot as they wear red feathers in their hair.
The population of Eswatini is made up of 1.3 million people. These people are called Swazi!
The national language of the country is Swati (or Siswati), but English is also taught in schools (a byproduct of being a British protectorate decades ago).
About 97% of people in the country are Swazi, and about 83% of the country identify as Christian.
Eswatini faces an incredibly difficult HIV crisis. It is estimated that about 25% of adults between the ages 15-49 are HIV positive, meaning that over 200,000 people of the 1.3 million people in the country are living with the virus.
Because of this, Eswatini has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world at about 50 years. It is estimated that about 1 in 6 children are orphaned due to both of their parents dying from HIV.
The Umhlanga is an 8 day cultural tradition that celebrates chastity and virginity. Women (virgins only) travel from around the country to gather and dance at this ceremony, and, at the end of it, the King is permitted to choose a wife from the dancers. These days, the ceremony is more about preserving heritage than it is about finding a wife for the king.