The king of the tiny African nation of Swaziland has changed his country's name to eSwatini. The new name means "land of the Swazis" in the local Swati language. King Mswati III is an absolute monarch, which means he has the power to manage his country as he likes. He renamed his land on Thursday at celebrations marking 50 years of Swazi independence from Britain. The day also coincided with his 50th birthday. Speaking at the nation's Golden Jubilee celebrations, 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."
The change of name has been talked about in official circles for years. The king has regularly referred to Swaziland as eSwatini in addresses in his country's parliament, at the United Nations General Assembly and to the African Union. Swaziland gained independence from Britain in 1968, but unlike other former British colonies, it retained its colonial-era name. Nyasaland became Malawi, Northern Rhodesia renamed itself Zambia, Bechuanaland changed its name to Botswana, and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. King Mswati said that from now on, people would not confuse his country with Switzerland. The UN, Google Maps and Internet companies now have to add eSwatini to their databases.