Geography in Eswatini (Swaziland)
With an area of almost 17,400 square kilometers, the Kingdom of Swaziland is the second smallest state in Africa after Gambia. The landlocked country is enclosed by South Africa from the north to the west to the south-east, only the north-eastern border is formed by Mozambique over a length of 105 km. The country falls from the west, with the slope of the South African Drakensberg continuously sloping in an easterly direction, whereby four landscape zones can be distinguished. The foothills of the Drakensberg form with an average height of 1,300 meters above sea level. the highveld with the highest elevation of the 1,862 meter high Emlembes near the western border of Swaziland. The Middleveld to the east with the largest city in the country, Manzini, is about 700 meters high on average and consists of fertile hill country. Even further to the east is the Lowveld with the lowest point in Swaziland at 21 m above sea level on the banks of the Lusutfu. Swaziland’s natural eastern border with Mozambique and South Africa is formed by the southern ridge of the Lubombo Mountains, which are up to 776 m high. Most of the country’s area is drained to the Indian Ocean via the Lusutfu, Great Usutu River and, later, Maputo, which is also the longest river in Swaziland.
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Flora and fauna in Eswatini (Swaziland)
The vegetation in Eswatini varies according to the altitude of the country. The vegetation of the highveld is characterized by grass steppes and afforested forests with pine and eucalyptus. The lowlands mainly consist of bushland and are used for growing sugar cane.
The fauna in Eswatini (formerly: Swaziland) is relatively rich in species despite the small land area with at least 132 species of mammals and over 480 species of birds as well as numerous representatives of reptiles and amphibians. In addition to the “Big Five” (lions, elephants, buffalo, leopard), the wild animals found predominantly in protected areas include antelopes, zebras, nyalas, wildebeests, giraffes, bear baboons, blesboks and jackals.
National parks and nature conservation in Eswatini (Swaziland)
For some time now, nature conservation has also been promoted in Eswatini. Among other things, great efforts have been made to reintroduce endangered or already extinct wild animal species and to reforest appropriate habitats.
Conservation areas are legally proclaimed by the state Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC). The areas worthy of protection are divided into nature reserves and other protected areas. The other protected areas include the national parks subject to the Eswatin Wildlife Protection Act as well as private and not yet proclaimed nature and wildlife reserves. The Eswatin nature protection legislation is supported by the Game Act, established in 1953 and 1991, in which numerous rules for the protection of wild animals were laid down. The three most important landscape and wild animal parks in Eswatini are nature reserves according to the Game Act and are to receive a status as a national park or nature reserve. At the moment, the parks are still run by the private wildlife reserve operator Big Game Parks.
The largest and oldest of these protected areas is the Mlilwane Game Reserve in western Eswatini. Other protected areas are the Hlane National Park in the northeast, the Mkhaya Game Reserve in the east and the Malolotsha National Park in the north of Eswatini. Eswatini’s sanctuaries are the best way to see the country’s wildlife on a journey through Eswatini.
Culture and sights in Eswatini (Swaziland)
The culture of Eswatini is shaped by the traditions of the Bantu peoples and in particular the Swasis and Mnisis descendants of them, although Europeans have left their cultural traces in the country with the Boers and British. Even today, the tribal traditions are an integral part of everyday life and are consciously cultivated in the form of numerous customs and rituals. The most famous folk festivals are the Incwala ceremony (festival of the first fruit) and the reed dance in honor of the king mother. Many holidays in Eswatini do not have a fixed date but are based on the beginning of Easter, which in turn depends on the first full moon after the beginning of spring.
In Eswatini, some memorials and protected areas are designated as national monuments by the Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNCT). These include the home of Swaziland’s first police chief, Captain Gilson’s House, in Mbabane; the seat of Swaziland’s first parliament, the Legco Building; the first administrative seat, the Old Secretariat; the sacred lake Mantjolo Pool, as well as all native trees in Mbabane. In Lobamba these are the King Sobuza II Memorial Park, a park created in honor of King Sobhuza II, and in Manzini the tree under which King Bhunu was interrogated by the Boer administration in 1898 as part of the murder of Chief Indvuna Mbhabha Nsibandze.
The rock carvings of the Bushmen of Swaziland have been preserved from prehistoric times in the picturesque landscape of valleys, gorges, waterfalls and rapids along the course of the Mkondo. Significant rock carvings can also be seen in the mountains north of Mbabane.
Among the natural beauties of Eswatini, which should be part of the sightseeing program of a trip through Eswatini, are the beautiful landscape of the Ezulwini valley with the hot mineral spring, the Mantenga waterfalls about 20 km east of it and the national and wildlife parks Eswatini, above all the Malolotsha Nature Reserve, which offers breathtaking insights into the last unspoiled wilderness of Eswatini, consisting of wetlands, forests and extensive grassy areas. The Maguga Dam to the south of Piggs Peak and the Phophonyane Falls to the north are also worth a visit.