Swaziland is a country in Southern Africa, bordering South Africa in its west and Mozambique in the east. Swaziland monarchy is one of the oldest in Africa.
|Capital||Mbabane; note - Lobamba is the royal and legislative capital|
|Government||monarchy; independent member of Commonwealth|
|Currency||Lilangeni (SZL), plural Emalangeni|
|Area||total: 17,363 sq km |
water: 160 sq km
land: 17,203 sq km
|Language||English (official, government business conducted in English), siSwati (official)|
|Religion||Zionist (a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship) 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 10%, Anglican, Bahai, Methodist, Mormon, Jewish and other 30%|
- Manzini - major business centre
- Piggs Peak
- Hlane Royal National Park
- Malolotja Nature Reserve
Swaziland, the smallest country in Africa, has a reputation for friendliness in Southern Africa. It also contains several large game parks and reserves, which are sponsored by the government and are popular tourist destinations.
Compared to other countries in the region, Swaziland is known for its civility and peacefulness, despite similar problems with poverty and one of the world's worst AIDS crises.
Rumors abound that much of Swaziland's economy is based on the farming of marijuana, or dagga, as it is locally known.
Most bus services arrive in Manzini. Larger buses generally provide service to Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town in South Africa as well as Maputo in Mozambique.
Smaller bus lines, or minibuses usually stop at border crossings, where passengers must connect with an onward journey.
The only International airport of Swaziland is Manzini. Only two airlines fly there. Johannesburg and Durban (both South Africa), while Durban (South Africa), Maputo and Mozambique). There is also a small car rental station at the airport and a snack shop. A hotspot has recently been installed, allowing users with WiFi and Wireless LAN equipped computers or PDA�s to access the internet from anywhere in the building free of any charge.
Most travel in Swaziland is by either car or minibus.
Minibuses are prevalent, but can be confusing. Like similar modes of travel around the world such as the jitney, matatu or dolmus, these are small vans that accumulate as many travellers as possible while making their way along a general direction. In Swaziland, these vans are often driven by very young men, and most have assistants who estimate and collect fares, ask your destination, and make change.
Be prepared for crowded seats, loud radios, and sometimes reckless driving.
Minibuses can usually be flagged down along main roads. Larger towns usually serve as minibus hubs or connections. Finding the correct bus can be tricky, so discreetly ask if you can't figure it out. You will be advised to watch your belongings, as such places, like all bus terminals worldwide, have disproportionally higher crime rates.
English is the official language of business, however the local language SiSwati (also known as Swazi) will be useful talking to some locals.
The currency of Swaziland, the lilangeni, is tied to the South African rand. Shops in Swaziland often accept and make change for both currencies indiscriminately. This is not always the case in South Africa, however, so if you are planning to visit South Africa also, you may prefer to request rand in exchange for lilangeni.
Many foods are available in Swazi grocery stores, but traditional foods are still common, as are modern convenient food based on traditional ingredients.
Maize-based dishes are popular, and mealie-meal or mealie-pap (similar to porridge) is a staple. Beans, nuts, and sour milk are also common ingredients. Dried and cooked local meats, such as antelope, are widely available.
Sweet breads, vegetables and fruits are often available from roadside merchants.
A wonderful place to stay one or more nights is Phophonyane Falls (http://www.phophonyane.co.sz). It is situated in the north-east, next to the Phophonyane waterfalls and offers great hiking trails. Best is to sleep in comfortable tends, next to the river.
Swaziland has a much lower crime rate than other countries in the region.
Hippopotamus are found (rarely) in the country's rivers, and are one of the more dangerous animals you are likely to come across. They are actually quite fast animals, as well as being extremely strong and with large, powerful jaws. They often stay submerged in shallow water during the day, but come out at night to graze. They can be unpredictable, territorial and very protective of their young.
Swaziland has one of the highest rates, if not currently the world's highest rate, of HIV prevalence in the world. Do not have unprotected sex in Swaziland, or anywhere else for that matter.
There are risks for bilharzia if you frequent infected streams, as well as seasonal risks for malaria in some parts of Swaziland.