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Geography, climate and population

The Kingdom of Swaziland is located in southeastern Africa. It is a landlocked country bordered by Mozambique to the east and the Republic of South Africa on all other sides. It has a total area of 17 360 km2. The country is mostly mountainous and hilly, with some moderate sloping plains.

For administrative purposes the country is divided into four districts, each of which is administered by a Regional Administrator:

  • Hhohho in the north, with its administrative headquarters in Mbabane;
  • Manzini in the centre, with headquarters in Manzini;
  • Shiselweni in the south, with headquarters in Nhlangano;
  • Lubombo in the east, with headquarters in Siteki.

Two major systems of land tenure exist in Swaziland. Title Deed Land (TDL) is privately owned land and is used mainly for ranching, forestry or estate production of crops such as sugar cane, citrus and pineapples. It covers 46 percent of the country. Swazi Nation Land (SNL), which is land held in trust by the King for the Swazi people, covers the remaining 54 percent of the country.

The country is divided into four agro-ecological zones, based on elevation, landforms, geology, soils and vegetation. The Highveld, Middleveld and Lowveld occupy about one-third of the country each, while the Lubombo Plateau occupies less than one-tenth of the country.

Swaziland has a subtropical climate with summer rains. About 75 percent of the precipitation falls from October to March. The climatic conditions range from sub-humid and temperate in the Highveld to semi-arid in the Lowveld. The national long-term average rainfall is 788 mm/year. Table 1 gives the rainfall for the different ecological zones.

The country’s population was about 1.1 million in 2004, of which 76 percent are rural (Table 2). The population density is 62 inhabitants/km2. About 52 percent of the population is female, while 48 percent are males. The annual population growth was estimated at 2.9 percent in 1998 and had declined to 1.9 percent in 2002. One reason for the decline is the impact of HIV/AIDS that has led to high mortality.

Clean water supply coverage, in the form of taps in houses, taps outside houses, community taps and boreholes, is 42 percent for the rural population and 87 percent for the urban population (Table 2). Rivers and unprotected wells are the main source of household water for people in the countryside with 67 percent of the rural population relying on them.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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