What makes Eswatini a unique country to travel to?
Swaziland is a small developing nation in Southern Africa. Several well-developed facilities for tourism are available. The capital is Mbabane.
Violent crime is a concern and is the most significant threat to U.S. citizens visiting or working in Swaziland. Incidents of petty crime and violent crime are prevalent throughout Swaziland. Criminals will resort to force if necessary, including deadly force, in order to accomplish their goal. Gangs are not deterred by confrontations with their intended victims. Carjackings occur in Swaziland, and as with other crimes may become violent if victims do not immediately cooperate.
Congested, dark urban areas are particularly dangerous at night, but daytime attacks are not uncommon. The presence of other people on the street should not be misinterpreted as an indication of security. Many victims report being robbed in the presence of witnesses. Pedestrians are cautioned not to wear jewelry or carry expensive or unnecessary valuables in public. U.S. citizens are also advised against displaying cell phones and large sums of cash, because they are targets for thieves. Money should only be converted at authorized currency exchanges and never with street vendors. Exercise caution when using local taxis. Ensure the taxi you use is from a reputable company. Never enter a taxi that is occupied by anyone else besides the driver. It is good practice to call a friend to let them know the plate number of the taxi you are using.
Crime tends to increase during the holiday season from December to January.If you are the victim of a crime, you should immediately report the incident to the nearest police station. If there is an emergency, the police can be contacted by dialing 999.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
While you are traveling in Swaziland, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Swaziland, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
Persons violating Swaziland’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Swaziland are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained in Swaziland.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Medical facilities are limited throughout Swaziland and emergency medical response capabilities (including ambulance transport) are almost non-existent. Although the Mbabane Clinic in the capital is small, it is well-equipped and well-staffed for minor procedures, as is the Manzini Clinic in Matsapha. For advanced care, U.S. citizens often choose to go to South Africa where better facilities and specialists exist. Most prescription drugs are available locally or can be imported from South Africa, but travelers are advised to bring sufficient quantities of their own required medication. A doctor’s note describing the medication may be helpful if questioned by authorities.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Swaziland.
Safety and Security
Public protests, demonstrations, and strikes occur from time to time in Swaziland and are mostly in response to on-going labor relations/difficulties. Armed law enforcement personnel have been known to use force to disrupt such events. During the course of such events, police may not distinguish between “innocent bystanders” and protesters. U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Swaziland, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Swaziland is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Traffic accidents in Swaziland may pose an even greater hazard than crime. Visitors should use extreme caution when driving, given the relatively high rates of speed of drivers on major thoroughfares. Other hazards include poor lighting and irregular traffic signals; presence of pedestrians, animals, and slower moving vehicles; aggressive driving behavior; and erratic stopping for pedestrian and animals. Traffic drives on the left in Swaziland, which requires U.S. drivers to exercise particular caution. Special care should be used in driving at night and in fog, especially in rural areas. Rural and suburban areas are poorly lit and pose additional safety hazards as pedestrians and animals cross the road. Many vehicles are poorly maintained and lack headlights.
Extreme caution is recommended if/when using mini-bus taxis, which follow fixed routes and are flagged down by passengers almost everywhere on the streets and roads of Swaziland. Many of these vehicles fail to meet minimal safety standards. Drivers frequently overload the vehicles and travel at excessive speeds. Fatal accidents involving these conveyances are very common.
The Royal Swaziland Police Service sets up periodic road blocks and use radar to monitor your speed. Respect the local laws. If you are pulled over for a moving violation you will be responsible for the consequences. Always drive with your driver’s license. Failure to do so will result in a fine.