At no more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) north to south and 130 kilometres (81 mi) east to west, Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Despite its size, its climate and topography are diverse, ranging from a cool and mountainous highveld to a hot and dry lowveld.
The Swazi population faces major health issues: HIV/AIDS and, to a lesser extent, tuberculosis are serious challenges. As of 2013, Swaziland has an estimated life expectancy of 50 years. The population of Swaziland is fairly young with a median age of 20.5 years and people aged 14 years or younger constituting 37.4% of the country’s total population.
Umhlanga, or Reed Dance ceremony, is an annual Swazi and Zulu cultural event. In Swaziland, tens of thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi girls and women travel from the various chiefdoms to the Ludzidzini Royal Village to participate in the eight-day event. The young, unmarried girls were placed in female age-regiments; girls who had fallen pregnant outside wedlock had their families fined a cow.
In 2004, the Swaziland government acknowledged for the first time that it suffered an AIDS crisis, with 38.8% of tested pregnant women infected with HIV