The king of Swaziland, King Mswati III, has changed his country's name to eSwatini. The new name means "land of the Swazis" in the local language. King Mswati is an absolute monarch and has the power to change his country. He spoke at the nation's Golden Jubilee celebrations on Thursday, which was also his 50th birthday. He said: "African countries, on getting independence, reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized. So from now on, the country will officially be known as the Kingdom of eSwatini." Swaziland was a British colony until 50 years ago.
The name change has been talked about for years. The king regularly refers to Swaziland as eSwatini in his parliament, and at the U.N. General Assembly and the African Union. Swaziland became independent from Britain in 1968. Unlike other former British colonies, it kept its colonial-era name. Nyasaland became Malawi, Bechuanaland changed its name to Botswana, and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. King Mswati said that from now, people would not confuse his country with Switzerland. The UN, Google Maps and Internet companies now have to change their databases.