Swaziland, or Kingdom of Swaziland, a small landlocked country in southern Africa. It lies near the Indian Ocean between South Africa and Mozambique. Swaziland has an area of 6,704 square miles (17,363 km 2 ). Maximum dimensions are about 110 miles (177 km) north-south and 90 miles (145 km) east-west.
Swaziland lies along the edge of a high plateau and divides into several distinct regions. In the west is the Highveld, a mountainous, deeply eroded section of the Drakensberg range where elevations reach as much as 6,100 feet (1,860 m). To the east, at a lower elevation, is the Middleveld, an area marked by rolling grasslands. Further east, the Middleveld gradually gives way to the nearly flat savannas of the Lowveld, which lie at elevations of less than 1,000 feet (300 m). Along the Mozambique border are the Lebombo Mountains, which are relatively low. Swaziland is drained by the Komati, Black Umbeluzi, White Umbeluzi, and Great Usutu rivers, which flow eastward from the Drakensberg.
Swaziland's climate varies from humid and temperate in the Highveld to dry and subtropical in the Lowveld. Mbabane, the capital, at the edge of the Highveld, has warm summers and cool winters, with an annual rainfall of 55 inches (1,400 mm). Droughts occur periodically in the Lowveld.
Most of the people are Swazis, blacks of the Bantu group. The small non-Bantu minority includes whites, chiefly Boers (of Dutch descent), and persons of mixed European and African descent.
English and Siswati (the Swazi language) are the official languages; most of the people speak Siswati. About 60 per cent of the people are Christians; the remainder are animists. Primary education begins at age six and lasts seven years. Secondary education lasts five. The leading institution of higher learning is the University of Swaziland. The literacy rate is about 70 per cent.
|Facts in brief about Swaziland|
|Capitals: Mbabane (administrative) and Lobamba (traditional).|
|Official languages: siSwati and English.|
|Area: 6,704 mi2 (17,364 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 120 mi (193 km); east-west, 90 mi (140 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—Mount Emlembe, 6,109 ft (1,862 m) above sea level. Lowest—70 ft (21 m) above sea level.|
|Population: Current estimate—1,102,000; density, 164 per mi2 (63 per km2); distribution, 76 percent rural, 24 percent urban. 1997 census—929,718.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—corn, sugar cane, cotton, rice, tobacco, citrus fruits, hides and skins. Manufacturing—cement, fertilizer, food products, wood products. Mining—asbestos, iron ore.|
|Flag: Swaziland's flag has five horizontal stripes. The top and bottom stripes are blue (for peace). The wide center stripe is red (for past battles) with a black and white shield, spears, and staff. Between the blue and red stripes are yellow stripes (for natural resources).|
|Money: Basic unit—lilangeni (plural spelled emalangeni). One hundred cents equal one lilangeni.|
Swaziland has a rapidly expanding economy, closely linked to that of South Africa by a customs and currency union. Much of the economic development is based on exploitation of the nation's extensive natural resources. Development has been spurred by large investments of foreign capital, chiefly from South Africa.
Agriculture is a main occupation for the people of Swaziland. Because of concessions to European settlers in the 19th century, white Africans own about 45 per cent of the agricultural land. This land is made up mainly of highly productive estates where cash crops such as sugarcane, citrus fruits, and cotton are grown. Most of the black Africans live at the subsistence level, growing corn and other crops on small plots. Cattle are by far the most numerous livestock.
Mining is Swaziland's is a main industrial activity. Coal and asbestos are the chief minerals produced. Nearly all mineral production is exported. Lumbering also is a major industry, yielding mainly pulpwood. Manufacturing consists primarily of the processing of agricultural and forest products and the making of various consumer goods. A growing source of income is tourism; visitors are mainly from South Africa. Swaziland's transportation system includes a paved cross-country highway, an international airport at Matsapa, near Manzini, and several railways, which provide crosscountry transit and access to ports in Mozambique and South Africa.
Under the constitution of 1978, Swaziland is a monarchy. The monarch appoints the prime minister and cabinet. There is a two-house-legislature.