Capital | Mababane
Population | 1,370,424 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 17,363 SQ KM
Official Language | Swati
Holidays | Independence Day, 6 September (1968)
Currency | lilangeni (SZL)
Time Zone | UTC +2
Best Time to Visit | June to August
Connecting with the Culture | Waking around the Malolotja Nature Reserve—one of Africa’s most enchanting wilderness areas. Wildlife-watching in the excellent private Mkhaya Game Reserve. Bunking down in a beehive hut in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Witnessing the spectacular annual Umhlanga dance and Incwala ceremony in the Ezulwini Valley, Swaziland’s royal heartland. Shooting white-water rapids, including a 10m waterfall, on the Usutu River. Shopping for Swazi arts and crafts, including world-famous tapestries.
Read | The Kingdom of Swaziland by D Hugh Gillis, a history of the kingdom.
Listen | to gospel singer France Dlamini.
Watch | anything by film pioneer Hanson Ngwenya.
Eat | fantastic seafood—seafood kebabs, seafood curry, grilled trout with almonds.
Drink | home-produced beer, often made from sorghum or maize.
In a Word | Sawubona (hello in Swati; literally ‘I see you’)
Characteristics | Casinos; sugar cane; speed bumps; lions; rare black rhinos.
Surprises | Mkhulumnchanti is the name of the Swazis’ deity; respect for both the aged and ancestors plays a large part in the complex structure of traditional Swazi society; most Swazis rely at least partly on traditional medicine; there are two types of practitioners, the inyanga (usually a man) and the sangoma (usually a woman).
NEWS ABOUT SWAZILAND:
(HN, 4/5/12) - 4 days of protests across Swaziland are due to start today as students & trade unions are expected to continue their demands for democratic reform in the African kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch. The protests mark the anniversary of a Royal Proclamation in 1973 that banned all political parties & allowed the king to rule by decree. Over the last year & more increasingly in recent weeks more than 60 protests have rattled the country amid deepening frustration among Swaziland's impoverished majority - students, labor workers - who are living through a crippling financial crisis under a king rated by Forbes magazine as among the 15 richest monarchs in the world - & who tolerates little dissent. Demands for reform are expected to grow as Swaziland heads for elections next year. (Read more at ALLAFRICA)