THE KING OF SWAZILAND, one of the world's few absolute monarchs, announced on Thursday that the country had changed its name to eSwatini to mark 50 years since independence from British rule.

Meaning ''place of the Swazi'', eSwatini is the Swazi language name for the tiny nation landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique.

Unlike some countries, Swaziland did not change its name when it gained independence in 1968 after being a British protectorate for more than 60 years.

King Mswati III declared the name change during independence day celebrations at a packed sports stadium in the second city of Manzini.

''I would like to announce that Swaziland will now revert to its original name,'' he said wearing a red military uniform.

''African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized. So from now the country will be officially known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.''

The name Swaziland angers some citizens as it is a mix of Swazi and English. The move has been mooted for several years, with law makers considering the issue in 2015.

King Mswati III has used the new name in previous official speeches.

The King, who was crowned in 1986 aged 18, rules by decree and has often been criticized for his lavish lifestyle despite the grinding poverty suffered by many of his citizens. [Agencies]


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