Friday, May 24, 2013

77. Swaziland - Introduction

Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland (Swazi: Umbuso weSwatini), and sometimes called Ngwane or Swatini, is a landlocked country in southern Africa, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique. The nation, as well as its people, are named after the 19th century king Mswati II.
Swaziland is a small country, no more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) north to south and 130 kilometres (81 mi) east to west. The western half is mountainous, descending to a lowveld region to the east. The eastern border with Mozambique and South Africa is dominated by the escarpment of the Lebombo Mountains. The climate is temperate in the west, but may reach 40 °C (104 °F) in summer in the lowveld. Rainfall occurs mainly in the summer and may reach 2 metres (6.6 ft) in the west.
82.70% of the total population adheres to Christianity, making it the most common religion in Swaziland. Various Protestant and indigenous African churches, including African Zionist, constitute the majority of the Christians (40%), followed by Roman Catholicism at 20% of the population. There are also smaller numbers non-Christian religions practised in the country such as Islam (0.95%), the Bahá'í Faith (0.5%), and Hinduism (0.15%). There are 14 Jewish families.
Swaziland's economic growth and societal integrity is highly endangered by its disastrous HIV epidemic, to an extent where the United Nations Development Program has written that if it continues unabated, the "longer term existence of Swaziland as a country will be seriously threatened." The infection rate in the country is unprecedented and the highest in the world at 26.1% of adults, and over 50% of adults in their 20s. In the CIA World Factbook, Swaziland is ranked 191st out of 198 countries in life expectancy, with an average life expectancy of only 47.36 years.