Status: Independent Monarchy
Population: 1,087,200 (2018 estimate)
Area: 6,704 square miles
Currency: 100 cent = 1 Lilangeni (plural: emalangeni) The Lilangeni is pegged to the South African Rand (about 7¢ US). The Rand also circulates freely.
Swaziland is a landlocked enclave smaller than New Jersey between South Africa and Mozambique. It has been inhabited for almost as long as humans have been on earth. Just north of the capital is the world’s oldest known mine where 45,000 years ago early humans dug for specularite — a mineral with a glittering sheen worn ceremonially by tribal leaders.
1889 “Swazieland” overprint on 6p gray blue ZAR stamp (Scott 4)
According to tradition, the Swazis settled in their current homeland in the 18th century. Their first European visitors — Wesleyan missionaries — arrived in 1844, soon followed by Boers. Europeans were welcomed by King Mswati II who saw them as protection against his aggressive Zulu neighbors. (The name Swaziland is derived from a European corruption of Mswati.) Mswati turned Swaziland into a regional power through alliances with the British and wealth from the sale of concessions, but the European concessionaires undermined the king’s power and ultimately brought the country under foreign administration. On October 18, 1889, Great Britain and South African Republic (Transvaal) agreed to a joint protectorate. Five years later the British agreed to Transvaal’s administration of the protectorate.
1933 Swaziland King George V 1-shilling olive green (Scott 16)
At the 1899 outbreak of the Boer War, all Transvaal officials and many settlers withdrew. The king was once again in charge. In 1906, after the Boer defeat, Great Britain made Swaziland a protectorate, with little authority in Swazi hands. The British assumed that Swaziland would eventually become part of South Africa. After World War II, with the introduction of apartheid in South Africa, independence became the favored alternative.
In 1952, Swaziland was granted self-government, and in 1968 gained full independence. Today Mswati III governs as absolute monarch by decree, with 14 wives and 23 children. Some modern Swazi favor democratization, but there is also strong support for traditional governance.
1938 Swaziland KGVI 1p rose carmine (Scott 28)
Mail for the first settlers was handled privately. In 1887, a weekly service was established. Mail was transported by oxcart to Transvaal where stamps were added and mail dispatched.
1997 E1 Traditional Costume (Umdada) (Scott 674)
When the joint protectorate was established, Transvaal’s Postmaster General became PMG of Swaziland. He ordered eight current Transvaal stamps overprinted “Swazieland,” and these debuted November 7, 1894. When Swaziland became a Transvaal protectorate, regular Transvaal stamps replaced the overprints, but postal service ceased when the Boer War broke out. Service was resumed by the British in late 1902 using stamps from the newly subjugated Transvaal. The stamps of Transvaal, and later, those of South Africa were used until January 2, 1933, when Swaziland again got its own stamps.
2001 WWF Small Antelope strip of 4 (Scott 698–701)
On April 19, 2018, the country’s name was officially changed from Swaziland to Eswatini. Eswatini is used almost exclusively in the country and by the United Nations, and was used on some stamps beginning in 2018, although these do not seem to be widely available.