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23rd Apr 2018

The King of Swaziland just officially renamed the country

It's to avoid confusion with Switzerland

Kyle Picknell

He was tired of everyone getting it confused with Switzerland.

King Mswati III of Swaziland, who is both king and head of the Royal Swazi family, has decided to rename the country. Swaziland is now, officially, the “Kingdom of eSwatini”. How do you know it’s official? Well the king said so, but more importantly Wikipedia has said so too.

King Mswati decided to announce the change because the name Swaziland often caused confusion when going abroad. “Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland,” he told a large crowd in the city of Manzini when announcing the name change.

He explained that “African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized. So from now on the country will be officially be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini”.

eSwatini means “land of the Swazis” in the local language of Swazi. The king himself has been using the name for some time, addressing the UN General Assembly in 2017 and announcing the opening of the country’s parliament this year by using the new name.

He has now made it official, using the golden jubilee of the country’s celebration of independence from British Colonial rule as the platform to announce the change officially.

It hasn’t been entirely well received, however, as many citizens of eSwatini have pointed out that a name change shouldn’t have been particularly high up the priority list, as the landlocked southern African country, which is a commonwealth member, suffers from extreme poverty and has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the entire world.

Mswati was crowned in 1986 when he was only eighteen, after returning from years in England where he attended Sherborne School, an independent boy’s school in Dorset.

He has faced extensive criticism over the years for his extravagant lifestyle, oppressive, conservative politics and suspected corruption by human rights groups and the media. Most of the king’s 1.4 million subjects work as agricultural labourers.

eSwatini did not change its name originally after gaining independence in 1968, the year the king was born, unlike Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Bechuanaland which became Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana respectively.