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Swaziland - History

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Swaziland is party to the international agreements covering Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban and Ozone Layer Protection. The country has signed, but not ratified the agreement on desertification, and also the law of the sea.


Swaziland has invested considerably in developing the country by the creation of additional road networks, dams, wildlife sanctuaries, and hydro-electrical schemes.


It has 300km of narrow gauge railway, used mainly for industry, a major airport and several airstrips. There is also a Broadcasting Station within the capital and the country has open communication systems via telephone, mobile cellular, and the internet. The nearest harbour is 235km away at Maputo in Mozambique.


The majority of the urban population live in good quality housing, although there are substantial traditional homesteads in rural parts of the country. The traditional grass huts and wattle-and-daub dwellings blend in well with the landscape, and apart from the lack of urbanized amenities, running water and electricity, are well constructed.


The search for jobs in urban settings did however, cause a housing shortage in certain areas, and as a result several squatter settlements developed. In the early part of the millennium, it was estimated that as much as 60% of the urban population resided in temporary shelters.


In 2001, the Swaziland National Housing Board provided over 1,000 rental units and 500 units for ownership to low- and middle-income families.



Economy and Resources


About 70% of Swazis live in rural areas that are periodically ravaged by drought, resulting in food crises and shortages. The unemployment rate stands at approximately 22%, and nearly 70% of the population live on less than one US dollar per day.


Swaziland has the lowest documented life expectancy in the world at 32.2 years, less than half the world average of 65.8 with 38.8% of the population being inflicted by the HIV virus.


Nearly 60% of Swazi territory is publicly held by the crown in the trust of the Swazi nation. The people are privileged to grow crops, make profit from selling their crops, graze live stock and build traditional/ modern homes with out having to pay any tax/rates to the government. Most of the private ownership on the remaining 40% is by mixed Swazis, black Swazis, white Swazis and foreign investors. Part of the remaining 40% also includes the government and Tibiyo Taka-Ngwane, a company once held in trust on behalf of the Swazi nation but now serving the interests of the royal family.


The official currency is the lilangeni (plural: emalangeni), which is at par with the South African rand. Swaziland is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), along with Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, and the Republic of South Africa, where import duties apply uniformly to member countries. In addition,
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Raine Alexander - 27 June 2008


Swaziland Country Study Guide published by International Business Publications

Ministry of Education,Swaziland Government


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