Swaziland: People & Society#

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2016 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Swazi(s)
adjective: Swazi
Ethnic groupsAfrican 97%, European 3%
LanguagesEnglish (official, used for government business), siSwati (official)
ReligionsZionist 40% (a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship), Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 10%, other 30% (includes Anglican, Baha'i, Methodist, Mormon, Jewish)
Demographic profileSwaziland, a small, predominantly rural, landlocked country surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique, suffers from severe poverty and the world’s highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate. A weak and deteriorating economy, high unemployment, rapid population growth, and an uneven distribution of resources all combine to worsen already persistent poverty and food insecurity, especially in rural areas. Erratic weather (frequent droughts and intermittent heavy rains and flooding), overuse of small plots, the overgrazing of cattle, and outdated agricultural practices reduce crop yields and further degrade the environment, exacerbating Swaziland’s poverty and subsistence problems. Swaziland’s extremely high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate – more than 28% of adults have the disease – compounds these issues. Agricultural production has declined due to HIV/AIDS, as the illness causes households to lose manpower and to sell livestock and other assets to pay for medicine and funerals. Swazis, mainly men from the country’s rural south, have been migrating to South Africa to work in coal, and later gold, mines since the late 19th century. Although the number of miners abroad has never been high in absolute terms because of Swaziland’s small population, the outflow has had important social and economic repercussions. The peak of mining employment in South Africa occurred during the 1980s. Cross-border movement has accelerated since the 1990s, as increasing unemployment has pushed more Swazis to look for work in South Africa (creating a "brain drain" in the health and educational sectors); southern Swazi men have continued to pursue mining, although the industry has downsized. Women now make up an increasing share of migrants and dominate cross-border trading in handicrafts, using the proceeds to purchase goods back in Swaziland. Much of today’s migration, however, is not work-related but focuses on visits to family and friends, tourism, and shopping.
Age structure0-14 years: 35.5% (male 260,507/female 254,811)
15-24 years: 22.19% (male 162,880/female 159,229)
25-54 years: 34.12% (male 256,696/female 238,471)
55-64 years: 4.28% (male 24,758/female 37,399)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 21,842/female 34,835) (2016 est.)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 69.3%
youth dependency ratio: 63.2%
elderly dependency ratio: 6.1%
potential support ratio: 16.5% (2015 est.)
Median agetotal: 21.4 years
male: 21.2 years
female: 21.7 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate1.1% (2016 est.)
Birth rate24.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate13.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanizationurban population: 21.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.32% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major urban areas - populationMBABANE (capital) 66,000 (2014)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.66 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Mother's mean age at first birth19.5
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2006/07 est.)
Maternal mortality rate389 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 50.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 54.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 51.6 years
male: 52.2 years
female: 51 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate2.74 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate65.2% (2010)
Health expenditures9.3% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density0.17 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
Hospital bed density2.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 93.6% of population
rural: 68.9% of population
total: 74.1% of population
urban: 6.4% of population
rural: 31.1% of population
total: 25.9% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 63.1% of population
rural: 56% of population
total: 57.5% of population
urban: 36.9% of population
rural: 44% of population
total: 42.5% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate28.8% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS218,600 (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths3,800 (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2016)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate14.8% (2014)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight5.8% (2014)
Education expenditures7.1% of GDP (2014)
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.5%
male: 87.4%
female: 87.5% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 11 years
male: 12 years
female: 11 years (2013)