Overview

Lake Gunn, South Island
Lake Gunn, South Island © Jocelyn Kinghorn

The tiny mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland, sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique, has been dubbed the 'Switzerland of Africa'. African culture and traditions flourish here alongside some modern luxury hotels and excellent wildlife reserves.

Swaziland is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, but it has a big heart despite its depressed economy. The capital, Mbabane, lies at the northern end of the lush Ezulwini Valley: a small, unpretentious town that caters well for tourists. Among the country's main attractions are Mlilwane, a well-established game sanctuary; the magnificent Mantenga Falls; the casino resort of Piggs Peak; and the annual ceremony of the Reed Dances at the Royal Kraal in Lebombo on the country's eastern border.

Swaziland's absolute monarchy is one of only three remaining in Africa. The country is ruled by King Mswati III and his family, who preside over traditional ceremonies like the Reed Dance and First Fruits Ceremony. Swazi life is focused on tradition and centres on the homestead, many of which are polygamous and continue to observe traditional rites and customs.

Swaziland is also known for its exquisite arts and crafts and its breathtaking scenery, especially its western highlands, which rise to more than 6,000 feet (1,829m), and are riven with abundant rivers, waterfalls and forested gorges.


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