The Kingdom of Swaziland is home to 1.2 million people and has the highest HIV rate in the world. It is a landlocked kingdom in the eastern part of Southern Africa. Swaziland is adorned by rugged mountains, river valleys, rolling uplands, high plateaus and African savannah.
Most of the inhabitants of Swaziland reside in the countryside, lead traditional lifestyles and speak English and/or Swazi. Most Swazi ceremonies incorporate dancing, music and song. Most traditional instruments are simple in design. Popular instruments include the kudu horn, reed flute, rattles made of seedpods and attached to wrists and ankles and a calabash attached to a bow.
Swaziland’s climate is mostly subtropical. Savannah, grassland and forests comprise the natural vegetation of this kingdom. Swaziland is abounding in flora and is home to over 2,600 species of flowering plants. However, the natural fauna of Swaziland has been severely diminished due to a growing human population and resulting habitat destruction. As such, mammals such as elephants, hippopotamus, antelope, rhinoceros, giraffe and zebra can only be found primarily in protected reserves.
Swaziland is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world. King Msata, III became king in 1986. King Msata is known as “the lion” and often appears in traditional dress when in public. The King has often been criticised for using public funding for personal palaces and cars, especially as Swaziland’s economy falters.
The state has a tight-fisted control over the media and the broadcasting scene is dominated by government-run outlets. Freedom of expression is severely restricted. Journalists are frequently attacked and threatened by authorities. Although the government does not restrict internet access, few Swazis can afford to go online. In December 2011, there were only a little more than 95,000 internet users. However, South African media is accessible in Swaziland.