The Kingdom of Eswatini, unofficially known as Swaziland, is a small, landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered by Mozambique and South Africa. The current Swazi people settled the area before the mid-19th century and were governed by a series of strong royal houses that were recognised by the British government in a treaty 1881. This treaty and its successor agreements guaranteed the nation’s status as a British protectorate and the strength of the royal administration successfully prevented the nation’s incorporation into South Africa in the early post-colonial period. Formal independence from Britain was celebrated in 1968.
A set of commemorative coins was issued in silver to mark independence, but a circulating Swazi currency was first released in 1974. The Swazi Lilangeni is divided into 100 cents, and circulates on a par with the South African Rand.
The first Swazi circulation coinage was issued in an interesting series of unusual shapes including coins with 12 sides, square coins, and coins with differing numbers of scallops. The most recent issues are round, but the shape of earlier coins of that denomination is often echoed in the edge of the design.
The obverse of all coins bears the portrait of the current monarch of the nation. To date, these have been Sobhuza II and Mswati III. The Queen Mother Ntfombi served as regent between the death of Sobhuza II and the ascension to the throne of her son, Mswati III. In accordance with Swazi custom, she serves as Indlovukazi, a title giving her status as the joint head of state. She appears on the reverse of the current 1 Lilangeni coin.
Because some African languages designate plurals with a prefix, denominations higher than 1 Lilangeni are designated in Emalangeni and the formal currency abbreviation similarly changes from “L” to “E”. Circulating coins all bear the “Swaziland” inscription up to 2018, when the country formally changed its official name to “Eswatini”.
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