Official name: Kingdom of Swaziland
Area: 17,363 square kilometers (6,704 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Emlembe (1,862 meters/6,109 feet)
Lowest point on land: Great Usutu River (21 meters/69 feet)
Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern
Time zone: 2 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 176 kilometers (109 miles) from north to south; 135 kilometers (84 miles) from east to west
Land boundaries: 535 kilometers (332 miles) total boundary length; Mozambique 105 kilometers (65 miles); South Africa 430 kilometers (267 miles)
Territorial sea limits: None
1 LOCATION AND SIZE
Swaziland is located in southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa. It is slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey.
2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES
Swaziland has no territories or dependencies.
Temperatures vary from as low as -3°C (27°F) in the highlands during winter to 42°C (108°F) in the low veld during summer. Temperatures rise and the climate warms as the altitude drops. In Mbabane the average temperature ranges from 6 to 17°C (43 to 66°F) in June to 15 to 25°C (59 to 77°F) in January.
The high veld region has a humid temperate climate and receives 140 centimeters (55 inches) of rain annually. The Lebombo plain and middle veld are warmer and drier and receive only about 85 centimeters (33 inches) of precipitation per year. The nearly tropical low veld receives an average of 60 centimeters (24 inches) of rain annually. The wettest period of the year is from October to March when violent rainstorms may occur.
4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS
Landlocked Swaziland is located in southern Africa, nearly surrounded by South Africa. It is part of the South African Plateau and is divided into four well-defined regions from west to east. In the far west, the high veld (1,050 to 1,200 meters/3,500 to 3,900 feet) descends eastward through the middle veld (450 to 600 meters/1,475 to 1,970 feet) to the low veld (150 to 300 meters/490 to 980 feet). To the east of the low veld is the Lebombo Range (450 to 825 meters/1,475 to 2,700 feet), mountains that separate the country from the Mozambique coastal plain.
5 OCEANS AND SEAS
Swaziland is a landlocked nation.
6 INLAND LAKES
There are no significant lakes within Swaziland.
7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
Swaziland is well watered, with four large rivers flowing eastward across it into the Indian Ocean. These are the Komati (source in South Africa) and the Mbuluzi (or Umbeluzi) Rivers in the north, the Great Usutu (or Lusutfu) River (source in South Africa) in the center, and the Ngwavuma River in the south.
Swaziland's highest waterfall, Malolotja Falls (about 1,000 meters/3,280 feet high), is found in the Malolotja Nature Reserve about 19 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Mbabane. This reserve, at almost 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) in elevation, has more than twenty waterfalls as the Malolotja River flows down from the highest elevations to join the Komati River at about 900 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level.
There are no significant desert regions in Swaziland.
9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN
Swaziland is covered almost entirely by grasslands, savannah, and mixed scrub. Swaziland's high veld has the largest man-made forests of conifers and eucalyptus in Africa.
The Valley of Heaven (Ezulwini Valley) is found between the cities of Mbabane and Manzini and is covered in lush green grasslands. Hilly regions support coniferous trees.
10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES
On the west side of the country is the high veld, which rises to 1,850 meters (6,070 feet). Mount Emlembe is located on the northwestern border with South Africa. In the east, the Lebombo Mountains offer an undulating plateau rising high above the Lebombo Plain from a striking escarpment.
DID YOU KNOW?
Swaziland suffers from soil erosion and destruction. The country has four protected areas for wildlife, totaling 40,045 hectares (98,953 acres).
11 CANYONS AND CAVES
Lion's Cavern, which contains an ancient mine, is found in the northwest of the country. A canyon in the Hhohho province in the north is the location of a dam on the Komati River.
12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS
Swaziland occupies the eastern edge of the South African plateau where it breaks apart and drops to the Mozambique coastal plain on the Indian Ocean.
13 MAN-MADE FEATURES
In April 2002, the Maguga Dam was officially opened. Situated along the Komati River in the north, the dam will provide hydroelectric power to both Swaziland and neighboring South Africa.
14 FURTHER READING
Blauer, Ettagale, and Jason Lauré. Swaziland . New York: Children's Press, 1996.
Gills, D.H. The Kingdom of Swaziland . Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999.
Murray, John. South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland . London: Lonely Planet, 2000.