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Swaziland King changes country’s name overnight

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At first glance eSwatini reads like the name of a Silicon Valley start-up company. But rather than an overnight success story, eSwatini is the name Africa's King Mswati III will change Swaziland's to overnight.

The King announced he was officially renaming Swaziland to the Kingdom of eSwatini at Golden Jubilee independence celebrations which corresponded with his 50th birthday on Thursday.

Swaziland was known as the Kingdom of eSwatini prior to being colonised by the British.

The announcement will create quite a job for the country's bureaucrats who will have to amend more than 200 references to Swaziland in the country's constitution, as well as change the country's currency — which bears the name of the Central Bank of Swaziland along with images of the King.

Internet domain names and number plates will have to be changed, as well as athlete uniforms such as those worn by the country's athletes at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

King Mswati III — who married his 15th wife, and beauty pageant contestant, Sindiswa Dlamini in 2013 — referred to the "Kingdom of eSwatini" several times in recent years including in an address to the UN General Assembly in 2017 and at the African Union, as well as other international conferences.

External Link: @MOFA_Taiwan: Sawubona! Big thanks to pilots & crew for superb trip to #Swaziland. The magnificent welcome by #KingMswati III, tribespeople & military honor guard is a great start to @iingwens visit. All are looking forward to #Triple50 celebrations. #Taiwan & Swaziland are #EnduringPartners.

The King revealed the name change at the large independence celebration in the second city of Manzini, 40km east of the capital Mbabane.

The impoverished southern African nation — a member of the Commonwealth — gained independence from Britain in 1968.

"I would like to announce that from today onwards, our country will be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini," the King said.

He said the name Swaziland had caused confusion.

"Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland," the King said.

The King, who wore a red and black military uniform and rode in an open car into the stadium, said he wanted his country to have a name people could identify with.

Most of the King's subjects eke out a living in agriculture, often cultivating sugar.

There is widespread poverty in a country with the world's highest HIV/AIDS rate.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attended the event while on a visit to a country which is one of the few to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan rather than Beijing.

It is Ms Tsai's first trip to Africa since assuming the presidency in 2016.

Reuters

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