Swaziland society is characterized by large socio-economic gaps. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of SWZ and acronym for Swaziland. The differences between the urban population and the rural people are prominent, not least with regard to the situation of women. More than half of the population lives in extreme poverty and three out of ten lack access to clean water.
Health care is neglected, with higher child mortality and shorter life expectancy than in countries with a comparable economy. Of the total public expenditure, 9 percent is spent on health care (2009). There are two doctors (2004) and 21 hospital beds (2006) per 10,000 residents. Qualified personnel are available at 70 percent of deliveries (2007). About 50 children out of 1,000 die during their first year of life. The HIV/AIDS epidemic contributes strongly to a low average life expectancy. Swaziland is one of the countries most affected by the disease; 26 percent of the population aged 15-49 are estimated to be infected (2009). Check to see Swaziland population.
In May 2016, the King appointed 7 experienced attorneys to Supreme Court judges. This happened in contravention of §153 of the Constitution which states that judges must be selected in an open, transparent and qualitative process. The Advocate Council therefore decided in November to boycott the Supreme Court, demanding that the judges be appointed in the bull council with the Constitution.
In September, the High Court ruled that parts of the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA) and the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) were in violation of the Constitution when they violated freedom of speech and assembly. The government appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
In May Swaziland was subjected to the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review (UPR). The country accepted 121 of the Council’s 181 recommendations on safeguarding freedom of speech and assembly, as well as preventing child marriage. In turn, the country rejected the recommendation to abolish the death sentence and safeguard the rights of migrant workers. The ILO was also involved in efforts to secure better rights for the trade union movement in the country, but without results.
The ethnic composition sees a clear prevalence of the Swazi Bantu ethnic group (82.3%), who hold most of the arable land. In their culture and language there are close affinities with the Zulu neighbors of Natal (South African Republic). They are farmers and shepherds, occasionally dedicated to collective hunting expeditions; the family group represents the basic social unit; men and women are divided into age groups. Other ethnic groups are the Zulu (9.6%) and the Tsonga (2.3%); the percentage of Whites (English, Portuguese and Afrikaaner) is very modest, but dominant both socially and economically.
The demographic increase was very intense in the second half of the 20th century, so much so that the residents more than quadrupled between the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1990s. Subsequently, however, the combined action of the spread of ‘AIDS and prolonged droughts caused a vertical collapse in population growth (which reached zero growth in a few years) and in life expectancy (32 years in 2008). The birth rate remains high (28 ‰), but infant mortality is dramatically high (69.7 ‰). The population, mainly rural (the urban one amounts to just 25% of the total and the only cities of a certain importance are the capital Mbabane and Manzini), is crowded in particular in the Middleveld, the most suitable area for agriculture.
In addition to the two official languages, SiSwati, Bantu language, and English, Zulu and Tsonga are spoken by the respective minorities. The majority religion is Christian (66.7%, mainly African churches); the practice of animist cults is still widespread (12.2%).