Detailed Map

Full Name
Kingdom of Swaziland

Area
17,200 sq km

Capital City
Mbabane

People
Swazi, Zulu, Shangaan-Tsonga and European

Languages
English, Swati

Government
Monarchy

President
King Mswati III

The smallest country in Africa is also one of the easiest going - laid-back Swazis are more likely to celebrate for fun than demonstrate for reform.

A progressive and hands-on attitude towards wildlife preservation has endowed it with a striking bunch of national parks.

Black and white rhino, elephant, and more recently, lion, have been reintroduced into the collection of national parks and game reserves.

You can trek, horse ride, raft on wild rivers or cycle through many of the parks and get surprisingly close to a huge variety of wildlife.

Some of the more important festivals turn the Ezulwini ('Heaven') Valley into a brilliant spectacle of dancing and singing a couple of times a year, as tribes people decked out in flamboyant costumes reaffirm their belief in the monarchy and their culture

Swaziland is a little, landlocked kingdom, bounded on all sides by South Africa except for roughly 100 km of border with Mozambique in the east. Roughly rectangular, Swaziland is a little bigger than Connecticut but not as large as the diminutive nation states of Israel or El Salvador.

The country supports a surprisingly wide range of ecological zones, from savannah scrub in the east to rainforest in the north-west, with patches of fynbos, the 'fine bush' so renowned in South Africa.

If time is on your side, the best way to see Swaziland is by trekking, and several of the national parks offer excellent trails that are often generations old.

Horse riding is another way to explore inaccessible parts of the country, and at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, not far from Mbabane, you can watch wildlife from the back of a horse. White-water rafting, mountain bike riding and abseiling are growing in the popularity stakes.