Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Eswatini's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Eswatini's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

The Kingdom of eSwatini (formally Swaziland), herein referred to as eSwatini, is a landlocked and mountainous country situated in the south eastern part of the African Continent. eSwatini is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere with a total surface area of 17,360 square kilometers (km). It is landlocked with shared borders with South Africa and Mozambique in the east. eSwatini’s general climate is characterized as subtropical with wet hot summers (about 75% of the annual rainfall in the period from October to March) and cold dry winters (April to September). The physiographic zones show clearly different climatic conditions, ranging from sub-humid and temperate in the Highveld to semi-arid and warm in the Lowveld. There are four recognized ecosystems of eSwatini, 1) montane grasslands, 2) savanna-woodland mosaic, 3) forests, and 4) aquatic systems. The savanna-woodlands are the dominant ecosystem, covering the central and lower parts of the country, followed by the montane grasslands predominantly in the Highveld. Drylands are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change; hence adaptation is essential in dryland management. In eSwatini, drylands cover 944,000 hectares (ha) or 54% of the country and encompass all of the Lower Middleveld, Eastern and Western Lowveld, as well as parts of the Lubombo Range and Upper Middleveld. The driest zone in eSwatini is the moist semi-arid zone, found in the southern Lowveld. The intermediate dry sub-humid zone occurs mainly in the northern Lowveld. The most humid part of the Drylands covers the Lower Middleveld, most of the Lebombo and a small part of the Upper Middleveld. eSwatini has a population of 1.14 million people (2019), with an annual growth rate of 1.0%. Approximately 24% of the population currently live in urban areas and this is projected to increase to 26.5% and 33.8% of the population by 2030 and 2050, respectively. eSwatini is categorized as a lower middle-income country. However, South Africa accounts for 90% of eSwatini imports and 80% of the country’s national electricity is imported from South Africa. The eSwatini Lilangeni is pegged to the South African Rand. The country’s major economic sectors are services accounting for 52.4% of GDP, and industry at 37.5%. While the manufacturing sector has diversified since the 1980s, sugar remains the most important foreign exchange earner. Agriculture is the most important sector for the majority of eSwatini’s population and national economic development. However, the sector’s share of GDP decreased from over 30% at independence (1968) to 13% in 1989 and to 10% in 2009. Agricultural output forms the raw material base for approximately one third of value-added goods within the manufacturing sector and contributes substantially to national export earnings. Livestock production is also a major agricultural activity, with smallholder farmers owning about 77% of the total cattle population. The number of livestock has been declining in recent years due to droughts and overgrazing of rangelands resulting in less productivity, and to some extent also because of the population increases and thereby increasing demand for resources. Agriculture forms the base of eSwatini’s economy and diversification of economic activities is necessary if the country is to reduce its level of vulnerability to climate change as well as achieve its development goals.

eSwatini has identified four key sectors at risk to climate change which have been prioritized in adaptation strategies: agriculture, water, biodiversity and ecosystems, and health. Additionally, full implementation of eSwatini’s climate change adaptation strategies are confident upon the continued strengthening of the country’s technical capacities, technology enhancement and financial support received to invest in key adaptation programming.