Whether you’re looking for the culturally fascinating, a captivating wildlife scene or welcoming tourist offerings, Eswatini holds much of the best that Africa has to offer
A small, landlocked country dwarfed by South Africa to the west, it’s often easy to miss when looking at a map of Africa. Yet the country is evidence that good things indeed come in small packages.
Home to Africa’s only remaining absolute monarchy, the country is steeped in tradition and histories – an abundant cultural background that was most recently showcased during what was referred to as ‘50/50’ in April 2018.
The celebrations marked both King Mswati III’s 50th birthday and 50 years of national independence, an occasion that saw its name change from Swaziland to its precolonial name of Eswatini, meaning place of the Swati people.
50/50 was not a one off, however. Ceremonies and festivals are common practice amongst its populations, while the country is also home to some of Africa’s best wildlife, numerous adrenaline-inducing activities and a delicious, thriving culinary scene.
“Eswatini is a land of many wonders, with unparalleled diversity of fauna and flora,” states Linda Nxumlao, Chief Executive Officer of Eswatini Tourism Authority.
“Our ancient traditions, events, scenery, good climate, topography and friendly people remain the essence of our country. We want to invite more people to come and experience not only our attractions, landmarks or eateries, but the Kingdom as a complete tourism destination.”
The Business End
In the context of the socioeconomic development of the continent, Eswatini boasts one of the best economic growth records in Africa.
This reputation is largely owed to the country’s relatively liberal policies, welcoming both foreign and private investment. This approach that is best evidenced by the ongoing success of the country’s flourishing mining sector, alongside buoyant wood pulp, fruit canning, clothing and textiles and manufacturing industries.
Yet at the same time, the Kingdom’s economic achievements are somewhat limited by a relative dependence on both the cultivation of sugar cane and role of South Africa. From imports to investment to employment, this reliance leaves it relatively vulnerable. However, the country’s tourism offering is beginning to help to change this.
Having grown rapidly during the South African apartheid era, with visitor numbers rising from 89,000 in 1972 to 258,000 in 1989, the industry has since established itself as crucial to the modern development of Eswatini.
Last year, 1.277 million people visited the country, 814,220 of which came from South Africa. However, this regional influx is accompanied by a growing international audience, driven forwards by its ecotourism offerings and culturally acclaimed status, with German, UK and US tourists having visited the Kingdom in their tens of thousands last year.