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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, Africa’s last absolute monarch, to grudgingly allow political reform and greater democracy, although he has backslid on these promises in recent years. A constitution for Swaziland  came into effect in 2006, but the legal status of political parties remains unclear.

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.

Surrounded by South Africa, aside from a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland depends heavily on South Africa from which it receives more than 90% of its imports and to which it sends 60% of its exports. Swaziland’s currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively subsuming Swaziland’s monetary policy to South Africa.

The government is heavily dependent on customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and worker remittances from South Africa supplement domestically earned income. Swaziland’s GDP per capita makes it a lower middle income country but its income distribution is highly skewed, with an estimated 20% of the population controlling 80% of the nation’s wealth. Subsistence agriculture employs approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector diversified in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but manufacturing has grown little in the last decade.

Sugar and wood pulp had been major foreign exchange earners; however, the wood pulp producer closed in January 2010, and sugar is now the main export earner. Mining has declined in importance in recent years. Coal, gold, diamond, and quarry stone mines are small-scale and the only iron ore mine closed in 2014. 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 floods persist as problems for the future.

On 1 January 2015, Swaziland lost its eligibility for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), threatening the remaining 12,000 jobs in the textile and apparel sector; approximately 3,000 jobs have been lost since the 2014 announcement of the loss of AGOA. As of 2013 more than one-quarter of the adult population was infected by HIV/AIDS; Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate.

Swaziland GDP (purchasing power parity):
$8.672 billion (2014 est.)
$8.493 billion (2013 est.)
$8.263 billion (2012 est.)
note: data are in 2014 US dollars
* country comparison to the world: 161

Swaziland GDP (official exchange rate):
$3.842 billion (2014 est.)

Swaziland GDP – real growth rate:
2.1% (2014 est.)
2.8% (2013 est.)
1.9% (2012 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 145

Swaziland GDP – per capita (PPP):
$7,800 (2014 est.)
$7,800 (2013 est.)
$7,700 (2012 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
* country comparison to the world: 147

Swaziland Gross national saving:
13.4% of GDP (2014 est.)
15.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
11.8% of GDP (2012 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 127

Swaziland GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 80.5%
government consumption: 25.3%
investment in fixed capital: 13.5%
investment in inventories: -0.1%
exports of goods and services: 51%
imports of goods and services: -70.2%
(2014 est.)

Swaziland GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 7.2%
industry: 47.4%
services: 45.4%
(2014 est.)

Swaziland Agriculture – products:
sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts; cattle, goats, sheep

Swaziland Industries:
coal, forestry, sugar, soft drink concentrates, textiles and apparel

Industrial production growth rate:
2.1% (2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 124

Labor force:
435,500 (2012 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 158

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 70%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment rate:
40% (2006 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 190

Population below poverty line:
69% (2006)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 40.1% (2010 est.)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
50.4 (2001)
* country comparison to the world: 18

revenues: $1.349 billion
expenditures: $1.406 billion (2014 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
35.1% of GDP (2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 61

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-1.5% of GDP (2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 69

Fiscal year:
1 April – 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.7% (2014 est.)
5.6% (2013 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
6.5% (31 December 2010)
6.5% (31 December 2009)
* country comparison to the world: 49

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
8.8% (31 December 2014 est.)
8.5% (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 103

Stock of narrow money:
$453.5 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$419.6 million (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 164

Stock of broad money:
$1.109 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$1.068 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 165

Stock of domestic credit:
$657 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$643.9 million (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 163

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$203.1 million (31 December 2007)
$199.9 million (31 December 2006)

Current account balance:
$47.5 million (2014 est.)
$140.8 million (2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 59

$2.192 billion (2014 est.)
$2.104 billion (2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 142

Exports – partners:
China 32%, US 6.5%, Japan 5%, India 4.7% (2013)

Exports – commodities:
soft drink concentrates, sugar, timber, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus and canned fruit

$2.097 billion (2014 est.)
$1.987 billion (2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 163

Imports – commodities:
motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$780.9 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$762.5 million (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 141

Debt – external:
$568.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$488.5 million (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 174

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:

Exchange rates:
emalangeni per US dollar –
10.6 (2014 est.)
9.6442 (2013 est.)
8.2 (2012 est.)
7.2597 (2011 est.)
7.3212 (2010 est.)

Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa

Geographic coordinates:
26 30 S, 31 30 E

Map references:

total: 17,364 sq km
land: 17,204 sq km
water: 160 sq km
* country comparison to the world: 159

Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries:
total: 546 km
border countries (2): Mozambique 108 km, South Africa 438 km

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)

varies from tropical to near temperate

mostly mountains and hills; some moderately sloping plains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Great Usutu River 21 m
highest point: Emlembe 1,862 m

Natural resources:
asbestos, coal, clay, cassiterite, hydropower, forests, small gold and diamond deposits, quarry stone, and talc

Land use:
agricultural land: 68.3%
arable land 9.8%; permanent crops 0.8%; permanent pasture 57.7%
forest: 31.7%
other: 0%
(2011 est.)

Irrigated land:
14.39 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
4.51 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 1.04 cu km/yr (4%/2%/94%)
per capita: 962.1 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards:

Environment – current issues
limited supplies of potable water; wildlife populations being depleted because of excessive hunting; overgrazing; soil degradation; soil erosion

Environment – international agreements:
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography – note:
landlocked; almost completely surrounded by South Africa

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    Mduduzi Nicks DlaminiEnvironmental Engineermdudlamini@sea.org.sz+268 602 3607
    Mr. Jameson D. VilakatiThe Executive Director jdvilakati@sea.org.sz
    Bianca Hlob’sile DlaminiEnvironmental Inspectorbhdlamini@sea.org.sz +268 2404 6960
    Edmund Jabulani DlaminiChief Environmental Health Officeredmunddlamini60@gmail.com +268 2404 2431
    Vumani Francis TshabalalaChief Inspectorvumani@hotmail.com +268 2404 1971