Paper Money

Swaziland gets new name and new notes

What do you do when you’re an absolute monarch and one of your pet gripes is that the name of your kingdom gets confused with Switzerland? If you’re King Mswati III of Swaziland, you change it.

So by royal decree of April 19, 2018, Swaziland will be now known as the Kingdom of eSwatini. The name has nothing to do with e-commerce, email or any other form of modern technology. It means “land or place of the Swati” in the siSwati language. Swazilanders will now be known as Emaswati.

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The Central Bank of eSwatini wasted no time. It has already printed new 100- and 200-emalangeni bank notes bearing the date of 19 APRIL 2018. They are identical to the notes issued in 2017, except for the name of the central bank that is now Central Bank of eSwatini instead of Central Bank of Swaziland. 

Before gaining independence in 1968, Swaziland was a protectorate of Great Britain for over 60 years. It did not change its name at the time, as did so many other new nations in the region, such as Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and Nyasaland that is now Malawi.

The name change was coincident with the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain and of the king’s 50th birthday. He said, per Reuters, “I would like to announce that Swaziland will now revert to its original name. African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized. So from now on, the country will be officially known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.” 

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