Autonomy for the Swazis of southern Africa was guaranteed by the British in the late 19th century; independence was granted in 1968. Student and labor unrest during the 1990s pressured King MSWATI III, the world's last absolute monarch, to grudgingly allow political reform and greater democracy, although he has backslid on these promises in recent years. A constitution came into effect in 2006, but political parties remain banned. The African United Democratic Party tried unsuccessfully to register as an official political party in mid 2006. Talks over the constitution broke down between the government and progressive groups in 2007. Swaziland recently surpassed Botswana as the country with the world's highest known HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.
note:estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)
bicameral Parliament or Libandla consists of the Senate (30 seats; 10 members appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the monarch; members to serve five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (65 seats; 10 members appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by popular vote; members to serve five-year terms)
House of Assembly - last held on 19 September 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
House of Assembly - balloting is done on a nonparty basis; candidates for election nominated by the local council of each constituency and for each constituency the three candidates with the most votes in the first round of voting are narrowed to a single winner by a second round
the status of political parties, previously banned, is unclear under the 2006 Constitution and currently being debated; the following are considered political associations; African United Democratic Party or AUDP [Stanley MAUNDZISA, president]; Imbokodvo National Movement or INM; Ngwane National Liberatory Congress or NNLC [Obed DLAMINI, president]; People's United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO [Mario MASUKU, president]
three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in yellow; centered in the red band is a large black and white shield covering two spears and a staff decorated with feather tassels, all placed horizontally; blue stands for peace and stability, red represents past struggles, and yellow the mineral resources of the country; the shield, spears, and staff symbolize protection from the country's enemies, while the black and white of the shield are meant to portray black and white people living in peaceful coexistence
In this small, landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp remain important foreign exchange earners. In 2007, the sugar industry increased efficiency and diversification efforts, in response to a 17% decline in EU sugar prices. Mining has declined in importance in recent years with only coal and quarry stone mines remaining active. Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa from which it receives more than nine-tenths of its imports and to which it sends 60% of its exports. Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand, subsuming Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) account for two-thirds of Swaziland's government revenues, and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income. Customs revenues plummeted during the global economic crisis and Swaziland has appealed to SACU for assistance. With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and sometimes floods persist as problems for the future. More than one-fourth of the population needed emergency food aid in 2006-07 because of drought, and more than one-quarter of the adult population has been infected by HIV/AIDS.
general assessment: a somewhat modern but not an advanced system
single source for mobile-cellular service with a geographic coverage of about 90% and a rising subscribership base; combined fixed-line and mobile cellular teledensity reaching 50 telephones per 100 persons in 2008; telephone system consists of carrier-equipped, open-wire lines and low-capacity, microwave radio relay
country code - 268; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
current situation: Swaziland is a source, destination, and transit country for women and children trafficked internally and transnationally for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor in agriculture; Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, as well as to South Africa and Mozambique; Swazi boys are trafficked for forced labor in commercial agriculture and market vending; some Swazi women are forced into prostitution in South Africa and Mozambique after voluntarily migrating to these countries in search of work
the government of Swaziland does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government believes that trafficking probably does occur, but does not know the extent of the problem; the government does not judge trafficking to be an "important" problem and chooses to direct its limited resources towards other issues, a judgment which significantly limited the government's current efforts to eliminate human trafficking, or to plan anti-trafficking activities or initiatives for the future (2009)