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The Kingdom of Swaziland is located in southern Africa and, with an area of 17 363 km², is the second smallest state on the continent after Gambia. It borders South Africa to the south, west and north and Mozambique to the east.
The country drops in steps from the west (foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains as part of the Great Escarpment of South Africa) to the east (lowlands of Mozambique). Three landscape strips running from north to south can be distinguished: The mountainous country in the west (Highveld, 1 000 m and higher) is strongly divided by rivers. Here is the highest point of Swaziland, the Emlembe with 1 862 m. To the east follows the so-called Middleveld, which is located at altitudes of 500 to 1,000 m. The highest point in Swaziland is the Emlembe (1,862 m). In the east the flat Lowveld borders (200 to 400 m height). In the northeast Swaziland has a share in the Lebombobergen, a plateau of volcanic origin up to 800 m high.
The country’s four largest rivers are Komati, Usutu, Mbuluzi and Ngwavuma, which flow in a west-east direction and flow into the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.
Swaziland has an absolute monarchy according to the Constitution of 2005. The king (Mswati III since 1986) is head of state and holder of executive and legislative power. He appoints the Prime Minister (since October 2008 Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini) and the other members of the government.
The Parliament (Libandla), which acts as an advisory body, consists of two chambers. The National Assembly is made up of 55 elected members and ten appointed by the monarch, the Senate of ten elected members and 20 appointed by the monarch. Political parties are prohibited. The term of office for both chambers is five years. Swaziland is divided into four districts.
Compared to other African countries, the kingdom is relatively wealthy. But only a few Swazi share in this prosperity: almost two thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Unemployment is also high, affecting over a third of the population.
One third of Swaziland’s population is employed in agriculture, and three quarters of the country’s total land area can be used for agriculture. The most important sector is livestock farming (cattle). Large farms (mostly run by white or private companies) cultivate sugar cane, citrus fruits, pineapples and cotton for domestic and export markets. Beans, maize, millet and sweet potatoes are cultivated in subsistence farming. Since the drought years of the early 1990s, Swaziland has been dependent on food imports; many people are starving.
Swaziland’s industry mainly processes agricultural products. Oil is imported to meet the country’s energy needs, coal is available in the country, and some of the country’s energy needs are met by hydroelectric power. In addition to coal, the country’s mining products include asbestos and diamonds.
Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange income and most visitors come from South Africa. South Africa is by far the most important trading partner for exports (beverage concentrates, wood and wood products, sugar, refrigerators) and imports (machinery, fuels, chemical products).
Of the almost 3,600 km of roads, about 1,000 km are paved. The railway network covers about 300 km and connects the interior with ports in Mozambique (Maputo) and South Africa (Durban). It is used exclusively for freight transport. Between Manzini and Mbabane there is an international airport, the King Mswati III International Airport.