Towns and Communications.—The seat of the administration is Embabaan (Mbabane), a town on a northern tributary of the Usutu 4300 ft. above the sea, 40 m. south of Barberton and 180 m. east of Johannesburg. It replaced (1904) the former capital of Bremersdorp situated in the middle veld 23 m. south-east of Embabaan, and destroyed by Boer forces during the war of 1899–1902. Pigg’s Peak and Forbes Reef are mining settlements in northern Swaziland. Hlatikulu, the chief place in southern Swaziland, is built on a plateau about 3000 ft., above the sea. Zombodi, the principal native kraal, lies about IS m. east of Embabaan.
A railway from Lourenço Marques, 47 m. long, runs through Portuguese territory to the Swaziland border at Umbelozi Poort. This line is the eastern link in the direct railway connexion designed between Johannesburg and Delagoa Bay. From Johannesburg the line runs eastward past Springs and had reached Breyten (143 m.) in 1907. A number of good roads have been constructed. There is telegraphic connexion with the Transvaal.
Industries and Trade.—The soil is generally fertile. On the high veld, where green herbage is found all the year round, large numbers of sheep and cattle are pastured. This region serves as a winter grazing ground for sheep from the Transvaal. The middle veld is suitable for grain crops as well as bananas, sugar, coffee, tea and other semi-tropical produce. Millet, maize, pumpkins and groundnuts are extensively cultivated. On the low veld cotton is grown. Some species of the cotton plant are indigenous.
Besides agriculture the only considerable industries are gold, tin and coal mining. The goldfields, situated in the north-western part of the country, are a continuation of the De Kaap (Barberton) fields. The auriferous region is stated to be about 25 sq. m. in extent. Up to the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899 the value of the gold exported from Swaziland was about £350,000. Gold mining re-started on a small scale in 1904. The output for 1906–1908 was valued at £40,000. Alluvial tin mining is carried on successfully in the neighbourhood of Embabaan, cassiterite to the value of £46,000 being exported in 1905–1907. The output for 1908–1909 was valued at £36,000. Anthracite coal of a good quality is found over a large area of the low veld. Copper is also found. All mining is carried on under concessions. Imports are chiefly food-stuffs and cotton goods; they were valued in 1906 at £38,000 and in 1909 at £47,000. Up to 1906 no statistics of the trade of the country were kept. Trade is with the Transvaal and Delagoa Bay. The abolition of monopolies in 1904 (see below History) gave an impetus to trade. Up to that date some £4,000,000 of foreign capital had been sunk in the country with very little return. A large number of Swazis find employment in the Rand gold mines.
Administration, &c.—Swaziland forms a crown colony under the government of the High Commissioner for South Africa. It is administered by a resident commissioner. Legislation is by ordinance. Roman-Dutch common law prevails except when modified by statute, the laws of the Transvaal being in force as far as applicable to the country. Native laws and customs are generally respected and the chiefs exercise civil jurisdiction over their tribesmen, subject to appeal to the resident commissioner’s court. There is a special court to deal with serious civil and criminal cases in which Europeans are concerned. Order is maintained by a special police force. Education is mainly dependent on the efforts of missionary societies, but the administration has a few schools.
Revenue is derived chiefly from a poll-tax on natives of £1 per annum, concession rents, royalties and customs. For the period 1904–1909 the revenue—apart from loans—was about £40,000 a year, the normal expenditure being approximately the same amount. Since 1904 considerable sums (e.g. £49,000 in 1909) have been spent by the administration on the expropriation of monopolies. Swaziland is a member of the South African Customs Union (see South Africa).
History.—Ama-Swazi tribes are believed to have occupied the country now known as Swaziland from the period of the invasion of South East Africa by the Bantu peoples. They were formerly called Ba-Rapuza or Barabuza after a chief under whom in the 18th century they acquired homogeneity. In the early part of the 19th century they fell under the dominion of the newly constituted Zulu nation. In 1843, the year in which the British annexed Natal and with it a part of the country hitherto ruled by the Zulus, the Barabuza, under a chief named Swazi, took advantage of the comparative weakness of the Zulu power, achieved independence and founded the present state. According to Kaffir custom they adopted the name of their deliverer. The Boers of the Transvaal were then beginning to occupy the regions adjacent to Swaziland and in 1855 the Swazis in order to get a strip of territory between themselves and the Zulus, whose power they still dreaded, ceded to the Boers the narrow strip of land north of the Pongola river now known as the Piet Retief district. The Zulus under Cetywayo claimed the ceded district as theirs and the Swazis as their subjects and for over ten years no white farmers were able to settle in the district. With the Boers the Swazis remained on friendly terms and this friendship was extended to the British on the occupation of the Transvaal in 1877. In 1879 they joined the British in the attack on the Bapedi chief Sikukuni, whom they looked upon as an ally of the Zulus.
They captured from Sikukuni certain “rain medicine,” the possession of which has since greatly increased the prestige of the paramount chief of the Swazis among the Kaffirs of South Africa. On the retrocession of the Transvaal in 1881 the independence of the Swazis was recognized by the Boers and the Pretoria convention of that year defined the boundaries of the country. By the London convention of 1884 the Transvaal again recognized the independence of Swaziland. Immediately afterwards, however, the Boers began a series of efforts to obtain control of the country. In 1886 the governor of Natal received a paper from Umbandine (Mbandini), the paramount chief of the Swazis, stating that Piet Joubert had called on him and requested him to sign a paper saying that “he and all the Swazis agreed to go over and recognize the authority of the Boer government, and have nothing more to do with the English.” On his refusal the Boers replied to him, “Why do you refuse to sign the paper? You know we defeated the English at Majuba.” The Boers further added that if the Swazis were relying on the British, they were leaning on a broken reed, and would find themselves left in the lurch. Umbandine followed up this communication with a request for British protection, but without result. Later on, in 1887, both Boers and gold prospectors of all nationalities were overrunning his country, and Umbandine asked for a British resident. This request was also refused. The Boers now determined to adopt towards Swaziland the policy which had proved so successful in Zululand. A colony of Boers settled within the Swazi territories and proclaimed “The Little Free State.” Umbandine was then at length induced to ask the Transvaal for annexation. The Transvaal applied in 1889 to Great Britain for permission to accede to this request, but the British government replied that the only intervention to which they would consent must be a dual one. Consequently a joint commission was appointed to visit Swaziland and report on the condition of things there. Sir Francis de Winton, the British commissioner, who was accompanied by Generals Joubert and Smit on behalf of the Transvaal, reported that Umbandine had already granted concessions, such as “postal, telegraphic, banking, customs,” &c., to the Transvaal, and concessions of land mining and grazing rights to various adventurers. Umbandine had in short granted concessions of every conceivable character, including exemption from taxation. A charter of self-government had also been granted (1888) to the whites in the country. In the circumstances de Winton considered a British protectorate inadvisable and impracticable. A dual control was arranged in 1890, but the convention then signed proved abortive owing to the objection of the Transvaal to join the South African Customs Union. In 1893 a further conference on the Swazi question took place between Sir Henry Loch, high commissioner for South Africa, and President Kruger, the result of which was that the administration of Swaziland, with certain reservations as to the rights of the natives, was made over to the South African Republic. In the following year six Swazi envoys visited England for the purpose of asking Queen Victoria to take Swaziland under her protection. In view, however, of the arrangement come to, this petition had to be refused. In 1894 a convention was signed between Great Britain and the Transvaal, and the Boers, in spite of the Swazi opposition, assumed administration of the country. The Boers’ object in intriguing to acquire Swaziland was not merely that of obtaining that country. They desired also to annex the coast lands to its east and thus obtain—at Kosi Bay—a seaport of their own. This object they might have attained if they had agreed to de Winton’s proposals, but Great Britain in view of the increasingly hostile attitude