The tiny southern African kingdom of Swaziland is crippled with HIV/AIDS and economically dependent on South Africa. Vocal demands for multiparty democracy have been ignored.
Geography: Mainly high plateaus and mountains. Rolling grasslands and low scrub plains to the east. Pine forests on western border.
Climate: Temperatures rise and rainfall declines as the land descends eastward, from high to low grassy veld.
People and Society: One of Africa’s most conservative states, though there is pressure from urban-based modernizers. Political system promotes Swazi tradition and is dominated by powerful monarchy. Women face discrimination. Swaziland has world’s highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS: chastity is urged to combat its spread.
The Economy: Sugarcane is the main cash crop. Wood pulp and soft drink concentrates are also exported. Loss of workforce to HIV/AIDS, and high cost of health care.
Insight: Polygamy is practiced in Swaziland – when King Sobhuza died in 1982, he left 100 widows
Official Name: Kingdom of Swaziland
Date of Formation: 1968
Population: 1.18 million
Total Area: 6704 sq. miles (17,363 sq. km)
Density: 178 people per sq. mile
Languages: English*, siSwati*, isiZulu, Xitsonga
Religions: Christian 60%, traditional beliefs 40%
Ethnic Mix: Swazi 97%, other 3%
Currency: Lilangeni = 100 cents