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Hhohho is a region of Swaziland, located in the north western part of Swaziland from the north and running southwards to the centre, Hhohho was named after the capital of King Mswati II, who expanded the Swazi territory to the north and west, taking in the districts of Barberton, Nelspruit, Carolina and Piet Retief. These areas were later acquired by what was the Province of Transvaal and today they form part of the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. It has an area of 3,625.17 km², a population of 282,734 (2007), and is divided into 14 tinkhundla. The administrative center is the national capital of Mbabane. It borders Lubombo Region on the southeast and Manzini Region in the southwest.
The region of Swaziland which is today Hhohho was inhabited in earlier times by the Khiosan people. Later, Bantu settlers of Nguni and Sotho origin established settlements in the area. The land was later conquered by King Sobhuza I in the early 19th century as he relocated his capital from Zombodze in present day Shiselweni, to Zombodze in the centre of Swaziland. Sotho clans such as the Gama, Mnisi and Magagula, and Nguni clans such as the Maseko, were incorporated into the Swazi state. The royal capital of Sobhuza was built in what forms the Ezulwini valley (valley of heaven). This land was chosen for its impenetrability by invaders, and for its fertility, and good rivers.
Under the rule of King Mswati II, the royal capital of the king was constructed north of the country and was called Hhohho. This is the eponym of the Hhohho region. This briefly shifted the political centre of Swaziland northwards, first to minimise the danger of invasion by Zulu forces from the south, and later to expand and conquer lands in the north. Indeed, Mswatis armies expanded the territory of Swaziland. More royal outposts were constructed in towns that are now in South Africas Mpumalanga province. The loss of the territory occurred after Mswatis reign had ended, and was spurred by the concession hunters, and settlers in the territory that became the Transvaal Republic.
In the northwest of Swaziland, gold was discovered, drawing a large number of miners and settlers in the area. Gold deposits were first recorded around Piggs Peak during modern times in 1872 and in 1884 a gold-bearing reef was discovered in the hills to the west by the prospector, William Pigg, after whom the town is named. Other mining adventures took place in the neighbouring town of Bulembu, where later on, asbestos was mined. The town of Ngwenya on the western border of Swaziland with South Africa, is home to the oldest known iron-ore mine in the world. Commercial scale mining took place in the mine until 1977.
During Swazilands status as a British protectorate (1903-68), Hhohho borders were officially drawn, with its capital, and that of the country being Mbabane. The British resident commissioner had his offices in the town. The city, the meaning of whose name is believed to originate from a “small and bitter highveld plant” that grew in the area, is named after Chief Mbabane Kunene.