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The Just Student Jobs Country guide for gap year travel in Swaziland

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Population : 1,083,289 (including an allowance for AIDS)
Literacy rate : 76.7%
Life expectancy at birth : male – 39.54 yrs, female – 41.37 yrs
Infant mortality rate : 108.95 deaths/1,000 live births
Population growth rate : 2.02%
GDP growth rate : 3.1%
GDP per capita : £2,800
Unemployment : 22%
Inflation : 6%
Climate : varies from tropical to near temperate
Time : GMT + 2.
Electricity : 220 volts AC, 50Hz. 15-amp round pin plugs are in use.

English is the official language of this, the smallest country in southern Africa. Around 60% of the population are employed in agriculture. The market for the reserves of asbestos has collapsed due to health considerations and the iron ore deposits were exhausted in 1978. There are coal and diamond deposits, but not enough to make any difference. Most of the exports are fruit juice concentrates and sugar. Remittances from Swazi workers in South African mines account for some 20% of its domestically-earned income.

This is a quiet, rural country with strong links to South Africa from where come a lot of the experts the country needs. The culture is very definitely male-oriented and women should not expect European levels of consideration.

Swaziland is a monarchy with predominantly tribal values, although student unrest has led to some concessions being made.

Traditional music plays an important part in Swazi social life. The two most important events of the year are the Incwala (‘Fruit Ceremony’) which takes place every December or January at a time carefully chosen by astrologers, and the Umhlanga (‘Reed Dance’). The Incwala is a 4-day ceremony involving the whole country and culminates in a ritual during which the king eats the first fruit of the new season. The ceremony confers the blessing of their ancestors on the nation’s consumption of these fruits. In August or September the Umhlanga is an event in which young women pay homage to the Queen Mother. Both of these take place in the royal village of Lobamba.

Entry requirements

No visa for British Commonwealth citizens. Everyone must get a work permit.


Hepatitis A, polio, Tetanus, Typhoid and Yellow Fever.

Tax and Insurance

Maximum rate is 33%. Health insurance is advisable.

Gap Year Programmes

Click here to find gap year programmes and placements in Swaziland

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