Location: Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South
Geographic coordinates: 26 30 S, 31 30 E
Map references: Africa
total: 17,363 sq km
land: 17,203 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
total: 535 km
border countries: Mozambique 105 km, South Africa 430 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: varies from tropical to near temperate
Terrain: mostly mountains and hills; some moderately sloping
lowest point: Great Usutu River 21 m
highest point: Emlembe 1,862 m
Natural resources: asbestos, coal, clay, cassiterite, hydropower,
forests, small gold and diamond deposits, quarry stone, and talc
arable land: 11%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 62%
forests and woodland: 7%
other: 20% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 670 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment - current issues: limited supplies of potable
water; wildlife populations being depleted because of excessive
hunting; overgrazing; soil degradation; soil erosion
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species,
Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Desertification, Law of the Sea
Geography - note: landlocked; almost completely surrounded
by South Africa
The kingdom of Swaziland is one of the smallest in the world, small
enough to drive around in a single day, covering an area of only
17000 square km – half the size of the Netherlands. Despite it’s
small size, however, Swaziland has plenty to offer the visitors
as there are wide variations in vegetation and climate.
Swaziland, with its intriguing mix of European and African elements,
makes a wonderful introduction to southern Africa. After a day spent
watching zebras and wildebeests in a game park, you can relax and
sip cappuccino in Swazi Plaza. Abundant mountain streams and fertile
valleys make Swaziland ideal for agriculture and is a prime spot
for keen trout fishermen. The country is also rich in indigenous
flora such as cycads, lilies, aloe and ferns. Birdlife is abundant
and hiking is a popular activity.
In the midlands and bushveld there are a number of reserves with
game.Excellent roads make this a very accessible country to explore.
The area that is now called Swaziland was settled by the Swazis
in the early 1800s.
The British assumed control of the land after the Boer War, in 1903,
and ruled until independence in 1968 (Swaziland was the last British
protectorate in Africa). In 1973, the Swazi king set aside the constitution
and assumed full power. Geographically, there is considerable variety
in the Swazi terrain.
Most of the nation falls under one of four landscape types: the
eastern band, called the Lubombo Plateau; the low bush country,
immediately to the west; the hilly middle veld, or grassland; and
the forests and mountains of the high veld in the east.
The climate in Swaziland is moderate, ranging from subtropical to
temperate depending on the altitude. June–September is cool and
dry, while October–May is warm and wet.
Higher elevations are generally cloudy, mist–covered and about 10
degrees , cooler than the rest of the country. Sweaters are needed
for the cool evenings year round.
Swaziland is a small, beautiful country in southern Africa. It
is surrounded by the Republic of South Africa on three sides and
by Mozambique on the east. Swaziland was formerly a British protectorate.
It became independent
in 1968 as the Kingdom of Swaziland. Mbabane is the administrative
capital and largest town. Lobamba, a village, is the traditional,
or royal, capital. Manzini is the major commercial centre.
Autonomy for the Swazis of southern Africa was guaranteed by the
British in the late 19th century; independence was granted 1968.
Student and labor unrest during the 1990s have pressured the monarchy
(one of the oldest on the continent) to grudgingly allow political
reform and greater democracy .