The country is mountainous, with steplike plateaus descending from the highveld (3,500–5,000 ft/1,067–1,524 m) in the W through the middleveld (1,500–3,000 ft/457–914 m) and the lowveld (500–1,500 ft/152–457 m), then rising to the rolling plateau of the Lebombo Mts. Swaziland is cut by four major river systems, which have vast hydroelectric potential and are increasingly used for irrigation.
The population is about 97% African and 3% European. English and Siswati (a branch of Nguni) are the official languages. About 40% of the population is Zionist Christian (a blend of Christianity and indigenous beliefs), while 20% are Roman Catholic; there are other Christian (Anglican, Methodist, and Mormon) groups, as well as Muslim, Bahai, and Jewish minorities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.