LESOTHO

Date of establishment: October 4, 1966

Brief history:

  • 19th century: Lesotho’s original inhabitants, the Basuto, were led by King Moshoeshoe I in battles with surrounding ethnic groups and British military forces.
  • 1868: After clashes with Britain and the Orange Free State (present-day South Africa), King Moshoeshoe I signed a treaty of protection with Britain, making the country a British protectorate known as Basutoland.
  • 1966: Lesotho gained independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. On 4 October 1966, it became an independent kingdom. The first king of independent Lesotho was King Moshoeshoe II.
  • 1970: King Moshoeshoe II was overthrown in a military coup and the country came under military rule.
  • 1986: King Moshoeshoe II returned to office and attempted to restore the monarchy. However, he died in 1990 and was succeeded by his son as King Letsie III.
  • 1993: Lesotho adopted a new democratic constitution and the first democratic elections were held. The country has begun the process of transition to democracy.
  • 21st century: Lesotho has faced political instability, including several election cycles where there have been political crises, changes of government, and disputes between political parties.

 

International abbreviation: LS

 

Currency: Lesotho loti LSL

The plural of the loti is maloti. Lesotho uses its own currency, but the South African rand is also officially recognized and often used. This means that it is possible to pay in both currencies in Lesotho. The South African rand is often the currency of choice for international trade and tourists.

 

Internet domain: .ls

 

Dialing code: +266

 

Time zone: GMT +2

 

Geography:

Lesotho is famous for its mountains and most of the country is located at a high altitude. The main mountain range is the Maloti Mountains, which stretch along the western border of the country. Lesotho is home to many peaks exceeding 3 000 meters above sea level, making these mountains some of the highest in southern Africa.

Lesotho is rich in rivers and lakes. The main rivers are the Orange, Senqu, and Malibamatso. The country is also home to several lakes, including Katse Dam, Mohale Dam, and Maletsunyane Falls.

 

Highest peak: Thabana Ntlenyana 3 482 m (11 424 feet) above sea level.

This peak is the highest point not only in Lesotho, but also in the entire region of southern Africa. Thabana Ntlenyana is located in the Maloti Mountains.

 

Climate:

Lesotho has a cool climate with a significant temperature difference between winter and summer. Winters (July and August) are cold and drier, with temperatures often dropping below freezing at night. Summers (November to February) are warmer but still relatively dry. Almost the entire state lies at an altitude above 1 000 meters, which has a significant effect on the climate. Higher altitudes mean cooler temperatures and significant differences between day and night temperatures.

The country is among the areas with lower rainfall in southern Africa. Most precipitation usually falls during the summer months, but total precipitation is relatively low, which can affect agriculture and water availability.

 

Fauna and flora:

Lesotho is home to many species of birds, including eagles, ravens, hawks, tits, and more. Birds are richly represented in the mountains and pastures.

Several species of mammals can be found in the mountainous areas, including antelopes, zebras, hyenas, marsupials, and others. At higher altitudes you may come across alpacas and sheep.

Rivers and lakes are home to different species of fish, which affects the fishing industry and the diet of the local population. The country has unique mountain vegetation.

Some plant species are endemic, meaning they are only found in that country. This includes some plant species such as the spiral aloe, which is the symbol of Lesotho.

 

Agriculture:

Agriculture involves growing a variety of crops, including grains (wheat, barley, and corn), potatoes, beets, and legumes. These crops are the basis of the diet for the local population.

Pastoralism plays a key role. Many residents raise livestock, including sheep, goats, and cattle, which are adapted to the cold, high-altitude environment. Sheep’s wool is an important product for the textiles industry. Thanks to the rivers and lakes, there is widespread fishing, which provides a source of livelihood for some communities, especially at lower altitudes.

 

Extraction of raw materials:

Lesotho is known for its diamond mining, but this mining is not as significant as in some other African countries, such as South Africa or Botswana. A major diamond deposit is the Letseng Diamond Mine, known for some of the rarest diamonds in the world, including blue diamonds.

The country exports products from the textiles industry, including clothing and textiles, which is important for the economy and employment.

 

Industry:

The textiles industry is one of the most important industries. The country has several factories for the production of clothing and textile materials.

The food industry includes the processing of foods such as grains, potatoes, dairy products, and meat.

Lesotho has significant potential for hydropower generation. Thanks to the Orange River and its tributaries such as the Senqu, hydroelectric power plants have been built. Electricity is produced and exported, mainly to the Republic of South Africa, which brings income to the country.

 

Services and other areas of the economy: services and tourism

 

Natural and historical attractions: Drakensberg Mountains, Maseru Town, Bokong Reserve, Semonkong and Maletsunyane Falls.

The main attraction for tourists is the mountain landscape. Visitors come here to go trekking or hiking in the Maloti Mountains, including climbing the highest peaks such as Thabana Ntlenyana. Lesotho is also a popular destination for cyclists. The mountain landscape offers challenges for mountain biking as well as beautiful views and scenic routes.

Tourists can visit traditional Lesotho villages and get an idea of the local culture and way of life. Traditional dances, music, and handicrafts are part of the cultural experience.

The country has several national parks and nature reserves. These include, for example, Sehlabathebe National Park, Ts’ehlanyane National Park, and others.

 

Waterparks in Lesotho:

 

Form of government: constitutional monarchy

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy, meaning it has a monarch but they have a more ceremonial role with powers limited by the constitution.

The government is parliamentary, which means that executive power is vested in the government. The main body of the executive power is the prime minister, who is appointed by the king on the basis of parliamentary elections and has the power to run the government and manage the affairs of the state. Parliament consists of two chambers: the National Assembly and the Senate. Members of the National Assembly are elected by universal suffrage and have legislative powers. The Senate consists of members appointed by the king, including traditional leaders.

The Supreme Court is the highest court for civil and criminal cases.

 

Capital city: Maseru

The city is located near the Caledon River, not far from the border with the Republic of South Africa. The history of Maseru and its establishment dates back to when Lesotho was part of the Zulu Empire. It was later ruled by the Boers and the British Empire.

Maseru was founded in 1869 by the French missionary and Catholic priest François Coillard. The name “Maseru” comes from the local word “Maserunyane” which means “little ridge” and refers to the surrounding hills.

 

Area: 30 355 km2 (11 720 square miles)

 

Population: 2 300 000 (2022)

The majority of the population belongs to the Basotho, which is a Bantu ethnic group. They form the majority of the population and are culturally and linguistically homogeneous. The official language is Sesotho (also called Sotho). English is also an official language and is often used in administration and education. The majority of the population practices Christianity. Traditional African religions are also still an important part of cultural life. The population of Lesotho faces several health challenges. Government and international organizations are implementing programs to improve health care and prevent disease.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 1

 

  1. Maloti Drakensberg (2000) – The Drakensberg Park includes many caves and overhangs where you can find rock paintings created by the San people over 4000 years.

 

National parks: 2

 

  1. Sehlabathebe National Park
  2. Ts’ehlanyane National Park