Photographer's Note

It's time to post a photo from this tiny country squeezed between South Africa and Mozambique. I spent about 24 hours in the landlocked kingdom and I must admit I didn't see enough. I spent the night in the outskirts of the largest city, Manzini. Manzini also used to be the capital before the brits decided to move it up in the mountains to Mbabane. However, the king's residence and the parliament is located in Lobamba about a 20 min drive southwest of Mbabane.

Swaziland is among the smallest countries in Africa and one out of three kingdoms on the continent (together with Lesotho and Morocco). Unfortunately they recently surpassed Botswana as the country with the highest percentages of HIV/AIDS cases, almost 30% of the population. This photo was taken from the bus and I had to clone quite a bit to remove a white flare. It shows the landscape in the eastern part of the country, in the border areas between Lubombo and Manzini district. There were a lot of cows and livestock along the way. Most of the country is hilly and especially the northwestern part where Mbabane is located. Swaziland depends a lot on imports from South Africa.

One thing striked me with Swaziland. Sure, the nature was great and the rock formations were unusual. The cities were surprisingly wealthy and I even read about a bike path project in the capital. But the people were extremely friendly. I don't know if it was pure luck, but every single person I met in Swaziland was very, very friendly and helpful. And when I was in the shop asking for food produced in Swaziland, one of the employees almost did the rest of the shopping for me! I was surprised by the friendliness there and I hope they can reach their goals of becoming a first world country within 15-20 years. At the moment 40% of the population is below the poverty line, so the goals are ambitious. But I think it seems like the politicians are doing a good job and sometimes ambitions are just what it takes to start a change.

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Additional Photos by Fredrik Henriksen (Bergenphotos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 271 W: 53 N: 646] (3310)
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