THE REGIONS OF SWAZILAND
At Independence in 1968, Swaziland was divided into the four regions of Hhohho, Manzini, Lubombo and Shiselweni (see centre fold map). These regions are distinct from the four geographical zones based on altitude and vegetation, which run from west to east and vary in altitude from 1800 to 400 metres above sea level. They comprise the mountainous Highveld to the west with a temperate climate; the subtropical Middleveld at a lower level and the Lowveld to the east, which is also subtropical. The furthest eastern zone runs along the Lubombo Mountains, which form Swaziland’s border with Mozambique. The regions of Hhohhho and Shiselweni are named after old royal homesteads in these areas, Manzini is the name of Swaziland’s largest town, while Lubombo is named after the flat-topped range of mountains that run from north to south on the kingdom’s eastern border. The boundaries were designed so that each region would have at least one sizeable town to serve as an administrative centre. Thus Hhohho, Manzini, Lubombo and Shiselweni are respectively served by Mbabane, Manzini, Siteki and Hlathikhulu. Nhlangano has superceded Hlathikhulu in size and importance in terms of employment, commercial output and services, while in the Lubombo Region, Big Bend and Simunye, the ‘company towns’ serving the vast sugar estates, are today much larger than Siteki.