Swaziland from A-Z

Geography

Before time began, primeval forces shook the land we know today, as Africa. The earth tipped and tilted, the eastern edge of the continent fell away from the interior plateau and created a massive and awe inspiring escarpment. Swaziland lies across this great geological fault which runs from the Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho, north through the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, forms the Great Rift Valley of Kenya and, eventually, peters out in present-day Turkey.
A small, land-locked Kingdom, Swaziland is bordered in the North, West and South by the Republic of South Africa and by Mozambique in the East. Although Swaziland has a land area of only 17,364 square kilometers, roughly the size of Wales or the American State of New Jersey, it contains four separate geographical regions. These run from North to South and are determined by altitude

Climate

The seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere with December being mid-summer and June mid-winter. Generally speaking, rain falls mostly during the summer months, often in the form of thunderstorms. Winter is the dry season. Annual rainfall is highest on the Highveld in the West, between 1000 and 2000 mm depending on the year. The further East, the less rain, with the Lowveld recording 500 to 900 mm per annum.Variations in temperature are also related to the altitude of the different regions. The Highveld temperature is temperate and, seldom, uncomfortably hot while the Lowveld may record temperatures around 40 degrees in summer.Swaziland is a year-round destination with plenty of sunshine. Whatever your favourite activity; hiking, pony-trekking, golf, it may be enjoyed at any time. There are, however, a couple of points to note. The vegetation in Nature Reserves is at its thickest during the summer months and those keen on game viewing should visit during winter. On the other hand, bird watchers are advised to visit Swaziland during the summer months as some species are migratory and the greatest number of birds will be seen at this time.
The average temperatures at Mbabane, according to seasons:
Spring
September – October      18 degrees Celsius
Summer
November – March          20 degrees Celsius
Autumn
April – May                        17 degrees Celsius
Winter
June – August                   13 degrees Celsius

Landscape

Swazilands   topography   varies from east to west. The highest point being the pick of Bulembu mountain 1200m above sea level and the lowest is the Usuthu river at 20m above sea level.This huge altitude difference provides good scenic spots and drive ways.

Regions

Swaziland though very small in size has four different regions determined by altitude. In all four regions, there are different life styles. It is quite interesting to stay on the eastern part of the country and learn a day to day home activities. Migrating to the west or centre of the country one fills like he is on a different country.

Along the eastern border with Mocambique is the Lubombo , a mountain ridge, at an altitude of around 600 meters. The mountains are broken by the gorges of three rivers, the Ngwavuma, the Usutu and the Mbuluzi. This is cattle ranching country.

The  Highveld , along the western border of the country, with an average altitude of 1200 meters, lies on the edge of the escarpment. Between the mountains rivers rush and tumble through deep gorges making this a most scenic region. Mbabane, the capital, is located on the Highveld.

Spectacular views may be enjoyed out over the  Middleveld , lying at an average 700 meters above sea level. This is the most densely populated region of   Swaziland with a lower rainfall than the mountains. Manzini, the principal commercial and industrial city, is situated in the Middleveld.

The  Lowveld of Swaziland, at around 250 meters, is less populated than other areas and presents a typical African bush country of thorn trees and grasslands. Development of the region was inhibited, in early days, by the scourge of malaria.