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The kingdom of Eswatini is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies.

The king rules by decree over his million subjects, most of whom live in the countryside and follow traditional ways of life.

In 2018 the king announced that the country, hitherto known as Swaziland, would henceforth be called Eswatini, a move critics said was made without consultation and needed a constitutional change.

The country exports sugar, and many Swazis work in South Africa and send their earnings home.

According to UNICEF, Eswatini has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. The HIV-Aids virus has killed countless Swazis and left thousands of orphans. Some 210,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV.

Facts about Eswatini:

  • Population 1.3 million
  • Area 17,364 sq km (6,704 sq miles)
  • Major languages Swazi, English (both official)
  • Major religions Christianity, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy 54 years (men), 60 years (women)
  • Currency Lilangeni
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