Paper Money

Bank notes of eSwatini finally get the nation’s new name

The Central Bank of eSwatini has issued its first bank notes with the new name of the African nation, which was changed in April 2018 by the country’s king.

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The king of the country long known as Swaziland, a landlocked monarchy surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique, surprised nearly everyone in April 2018 when he unilaterally changed the name of his country to eSwatini.

The king, Mswati III, is an absolute monarch who can do whatever he wants. In this case, he wanted to simultaneously celebrate his 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain, break with the country’s colonial past, and eliminate the possibility of being confused with Switzerland. He said eSwatini is the country’s original name and means “land of the Swazis” in the Swazi language.

Left unsaid was what would happen to all the country’s currency that either says “Central Bank of Swaziland” on both sides, or “Umntsholi Wemaswati” and “Central Bank of Swaziland” on the 100- and 200-lilangeni notes of 2018.

Finally, in April 2021, says the country’s central bank, the first note with the new name was issued. The 50-lilangeni note, the equivalent of about $3.40 U.S., has “Central Bank of eSwatini” on both sides.

In all other respects, the old and new notes are nearly identical. The face has an intaglio printed bust of the king on the left with the only difference being that on the new one the portrait is slightly smaller and the king is wearing a fully visible necklace that is mostly hidden on the old one. The bank’s headquarters building in on the back.

Both new and old notes are legal tender and circulate side-by-side.

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