Swaziland is a relatively small country and is mostly surrounded by South Africa, except for its eastern border which is shared with Mozambique. It is the world's last absolute monarchy, currently ruled by King Mswati III. The official languages are Seswati and English.
Bantu migrations in the 15th and 16th centuries, from the Great Lakes regions of Eastern Africa, formed the initial population base of the country. Britain made Swaziland a protectorate during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), to prevent it falling into enemy hands. It was presumed that Swaziland would ultimately be incorporated into the Union of South Africa, however South Africa's racial discrimination policies (post-World War II) pushed the United Kingdom to grant Swaziland its independence in 1968.
Agriculture (mostly tropical fruits, sugar and citrus), manufacturing and the service industry are the dominant elements of Swaziland’s economy. However, any economic growth is negatively impacted by the HIV epidemic. Sadly, Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world (26% of all adults) and one of the lowest life expectancies at just 50 years.
Wildlife conservation is important in Swaziland, indicated by the many nature reserves and game parks dotted across the country. The Swazi economy is closely tied to that of South Africa, from which it receives more than 90% of its imports and to whom it sends roughly 70% of its exports. Swaziland's other key trading partners are the United States and the European Union for textiles and sugar respectively.
What the country lacks in size, it more than makes up for in natural beauty and its warm welcoming people.