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The tiny mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland, sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique, has been dubbed the 'Switzerland of Africa'. African culture and traditions flourish here alongside some modern luxury hotels and excellent wildlife reserves.
Swaziland is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, but it has a big heart despite its depressed economy. The capital, Mbabane, lies at the northern end of the lush Ezulwini Valley: a small, unpretentious town that caters well for tourists. Among the country's main attractions are Mlilwane, a well-established game sanctuary; the magnificent Mantenga Falls; the casino resort of Piggs Peak; and the annual ceremony of the Reed Dances at the Royal Kraal in Lebombo on the country's eastern border.
Swaziland's absolute monarchy is one of only three remaining in Africa. The country is ruled by King Mswati III and his family, who preside over traditional ceremonies like the Reed Dance and First Fruits Ceremony. Swazi life is focused on tradition and centres on the homestead, many of which are polygamous and continue to observe traditional rites and customs.
Swaziland is also known for its exquisite arts and crafts and its breathtaking scenery, especially its western highlands, which rise to more than 6,000 feet (1,829m), and are riven with abundant rivers, waterfalls and forested gorges.
The international dialling code for Swaziland is +268 and the outgoing code 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). The city code (0)67 is used for Villaverde de Guadealimar only. The country is covered by a GSM 900 mobile network, and an Internet service provider is active. Post offices open weekdays from 8am to 5pm, and Saturdays 8am to 11am. Public telephones are well distributed through the towns and villages.
The official languages are Siswati and English.
Travellers to Swaziland do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 20 cigars and 250g tobacco; 2 litres of wine and 50ml of perfume.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. The plug type used is a 15-amp round, three-pin plug as used in South Africa.
Conditions in Swaziland vary according to altitude, with the higher areas being generally cloudy, misty and several degrees cooler than the rest of the country. The mountainous region in the west, where most tourists spend their time, is humid and wet, the rain falling in occasional violent storms. In the middle and lowland regions conditions are drier, the climate ranging from sub-tropical to tropical as one moves east. The rainy season is generally between October and May and is warm and wet, while cooler and drier conditions prevail from June to September.
All visitors require a passport, tickets and documents for return or onward travel, and sufficient funds to cover their stay. Travellers wishing to stay longer than 90 days may obtain a Temporary Residence Permit from the Chief Immigration Officer at Mbabane prior to expiration of visa-free travel. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. Extensions are possible up to a maximum of 90 days. A valid passport is required.
UK citizens do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. Extensions are possible. A valid passport is required.
Canadian citizens do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. Extensions are possible up to a maximum of 90 days. A valid passport is required.
Australians do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. Extensions are possible up to a maximum of 90 days. A valid passport is required.
South African nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. Extensions are possible up to a maximum of 90 days. A valid passport is required.
Irish citizens do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. Extensions are possible up to a maximum of 90 days. A valid passport is required.
Nationals of New Zealand do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days. Extensions are possible up to a maximum of 90 days. A valid passport is required.
For health purposes, travellers arriving in Swaziland within six days of having been in a yellow fever infected area require a vaccination certificate. Hepatitis A, rabies, polio and typhoid vaccinations are recommended, as are malaria prevention measures for those visiting the lowland areas. Bilharzia exists in some rivers, and cholera outbreaks occur. There is an extremely high HIV/AIDS infection rate and all precautions should be taken. Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink and food, including dairy products, presents no risk. Medical facilities are poor in the country, but the tourist hotels offer private services for minor problems. Serious cases can be transported to South Africa for treatment. Medical insurance is recommended.
The crime rate is low and most visits are trouble free. It is wise, however, to take precautions against theft, and avoid travelling by road at night as there is a danger of hijacking.
Emergency Phone Number
* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov
The official currency is the Lilangeni (SZL), plural Emalangeni, which is equal to 100 cents. The South African Rand is also accepted as legal tender (notes only) and is pegged to the Lilangeni (L1=R1). Visitors should exchange any Emalangeni they have left back into their own currency before leaving the country. Travellers cheques are widely accepted and are best taken in US Dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling, to avoid high commission. American Express, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Banks are generally open Monday to Friday, and some banks are open on Saturdays. Visa ATM machines are available in the main towns.
Exchange RateNot available.
Embassies of Swaziland
Kingdom of Swaziland Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Canada): +1 202 234 5002.
Kingdom of Swaziland High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7630 6611.
Kingdom of Swaziland High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 344 1910.
Foreign Embassies in Swaziland
United States Embassy, Mbabane: +268 404 6441.
British High Commission, Pretoria (also responsible for Swaziland): +27 (0)12 421 7500.
Canadian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa (also responsible for Swaziland): +27 (0)12 422 3000.
South African High Commission, Mbabane: +268 404 4651.
New Zealand High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa (also responsible for Swaziland): + 27 (0)12 435 9000.
While Swaziland has no law in place that deals with matters of LGBTI relationships, it is frowned upon and majority of its people practice societal discrimination against the LGBTI community.
In Swaziland business etiquette is quite informal, however lightweight suits are recommended for meetings. Entertaining and meetings often take place outdoors due to a temperate climate. Appointments should be made in advance and business cards carried for identification. Handshakes are the normal form of greeting for both men and women. Meetings are not restricted to business matters only and may take a while over prolonged lunches. Business hours are generally 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken at lunch.
Service charges are not normally included in bills, but tips of 10% are customary.
Public Holidays in Swaziland
Map of Swaziland
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