Situated at the northern end of the Ezulwini valley in the west of Swaziland, Mbabane is the country’s capital and its largest town. It is named after Chief Mbabane Kunene. Despite its position as the commercial hub, most of the major cultural attractions and government buildings are located in the small royal town of Lobamba. Mbabane is primarily of financial importance.
The first settlement appeared towards the end of the nineteenth century as farmers began to inhabit the area near the royal cattle kraal. The British created the town in 1902, when they established an administrative headquarters for the newly colonized Swaziland. The following year Mbabane was declared the capital, but the town did not experience much growth until the development of a railway link to Mozambique in 1964. During the 1970s and 80s there was a construction boom, particularly in the residential and commercial sectors. In 1992 King Mswati III declared Mbabane a city.