Swaziland Economy and Culture
Eswatini is a country relatively well endowed with resources: it is favored by the climate, especially as regards rainfall, which in almost the entire territory is sufficient for agricultural needs; moreover it can count on discrete mineral deposits. A scourge for the country is the spread of AIDS: over 27% of adults are affected by it, a percentage that brings Eswatini to the top of the sad world ranking of the spread of the disease. GDP in 2018 was US $ 4,679 million, while GDP per capita, of US $ 4,250, is higher than that of several other African states. However, its economy depends heavily on South Africa and on emigrant remittances. § As regards agriculture (arable and arborescent crops covered 10.51% of the national territory in 2015), the abundant rains allow a high yield to the plantations, managed mainly by whites residing in the country and whose products are mostly exported (sugar cane, a fundamental element of the Eswatini economy, cotton and tobacco). Poor agriculture, of mere subsistence, which affects a large part of the population, contrasts with planting. Cereals are destined for domestic consumption – mainly corn, hence sorghum and rice – followed by sweet potatoes, numerous horticultural products (legumes, potatoes, tomatoes) and fruit. § Forest exploitation (forests occupy approx. 32.4% of the territory) annually provides a good quantity of wood, partly processed locally, partly sent for export.
A typically Swazi activity is the breeding of livestock, which is favored by the large extension of permanent meadows and pastures, but which is still far from being fully exploited by adequate production techniques; cattle prevail, followed by goats and poultry.
Industries (textile, food and mechanical) are concentrated in Matsapa and Nhlangano. The transformation activity of agricultural, livestock and forestry products clearly prevails.
Considerable, as mentioned above, asbestos (the Havelock field is among the largest in the world); the mining activity, however, is largely controlled by South African companies. Modest is the production of electricity, mostly of water origin. § The trade takes place eminently with South Africa: it exports mainly sugar, wood pulp, asbestos, fresh and canned fruit, while it mainly imports machinery and means of transport, fuels, industrial products in general. The trade balance shows a rather heavy deficit, also due to the decrease in the prices and volumes of textile products and the negative trend in sugar exports.
The network of communication routes, built during the colonization period, consists of an important infrastructure: the railway line that from the mining center of Ngwenya, near Mbabane, crosses the whole country, connecting in Goba with the Mozambique railway network to the port of Maputo, Swaziland’s natural outlet to the sea; in 1978 another railway section of 93 km was completed, which instead connects to Lavusima with the South African lines and thanks to which Eswatini also has access to the ports of Durban and Richards Bay. The overall development of the roads was approx. 3600 km in 2003. The main airport is Matsapa near Manzini, approx. 40 km from the capital.
Tourism is growing sharply and the country has developed a good accommodation capacity.
According to allunitconverters, the peculiarity of this small state is undoubtedly the strong sense of identity due to a monarchy with a long tradition. The extended family, as in other African countries, is intrinsic to everyone’s life. Polygamy is allowed but not often practiced; in fact, following Western customs, many refuse it and accept divorce. The highly developed handicraft specializes above all in woodworking, weaving (mats, baskets), pottery and jewelery. The traditional dress includes bright colors; during the holidays the most used colors are red, ocher and pink, many bright feathers are inserted in the hair. Dance and music are an integral part of the culture: the dance called sibhaca, performed by men, is very rhythmic and vigorous. The ceremonies often have a religious value and are deeply felt: the most important, the Incwala ceremony , is held between December and January. On this occasion we celebrate the new year and the first fruits of the harvest, the king grants his subjects the right to use them and hopes for the arrival of the rains. Umhlanga is celebrated between August and September, an important ceremony attended by unmarried girls. It is a kind of debutante ball for young women who could become the king’s wives; on the sixth day a spectacular dance is performed, adorned with large red feathers on the head. The food is very simple and poor: with corn, one of the most common cereals, a kind of polenta is made which is used to accompany stews, often based on vegetables. Artisanally, with sorghum or corn, a local beer is made.