Lesotho Facts

Lesotho Facts and History


Lesotho – Kingdom in Heaven

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Zulu king Shaka, notorious for his cruelty, had brought large parts of southern Africa under his control. Under the pressure of his military force, numerous Bantu tribes had withdrawn to inaccessible mountain regions. In this crisis situation the influential tribal prince Moshoeshoe I managed to unite the different tribes. He built huge fortresses and expanded his power through diplomatic skill. So he managed to repel the oncoming Zulus.

Today Monshoeshoe I, who is often referred to as Monshoeshoe the Great, is considered the founding father of Lesotho, although during his lifetime it was by no means possible to speak of a state “Lesotho”. After his death, a century had to pass before the Basothos regained their autonomy from the British. It was not until 1966 that the descendants of the resistance gained independence as the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Lesotho is still an enclave today – it is located in the middle of South Africa. Although the country is extremely poor in raw materials and is one of the poorest economies in the world, the 2.2 million residents of Lesotho can be grateful to their ancestors for choosing the location. The most important rivers in South Africa all have their source in Lesotho. A way out of poverty seems to have been found with the export of water and electricity.

Name of the country Kingdom of Lesotho
Form of government Parliamentary monarchy
Geographical location Lesotho is an enclave that is completely enclosed by South Africa
National anthem “Lesotho, land of our fathers”
Population about 2.1 million (Credit: Countryaah: Lesotho Population)
Ethnicities approx. 99% Basotho (Bantu)
Religions approx. 80% Christiansapprox. 20% followers of traditional African religions
Languages Sesotho and English are the official languages.
Capital Maseru
Surface 30,344 kmĀ²
Highest mountain Thabana Ntlenyana with a height of 3,482 m
Longest river Orange River
Largest lake Katse Dam
International license plate LS
National currency 1 lot = 100 lisents
Time difference to CET + 1 h
International phone code 00266
Mains voltage, frequency 220 volts, 50 hertz, adapter required
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .ls

Lesotho: history

By the end of the 19th century

Probably the earliest residents of today’s Lesotho were the San (Bushmen), whose rock paintings can still be seen today. Between the 10th and 16th centuries, Bantu tribes, especially Sotho and Nguni, immigrated to the area. In the 18th century The expansion wars of the Zulu king Shaka brought about a displacement of these tribes into the high mountain region of the Drakensberg. In 1820 Moshoeshoe, a chief of the Koena (= crocodile) clan, united the individual tribes and thus created the Basutho nation. As King Moshoeshoe I, he founded the chief oligarchy of the later “Sons of Moshoeshoe”, who still lead the country today. In the following years Moshoeshoe I. successfully defended the independence of the Basotho nation against the Zulus and Ndebele. In 1842 he asked England for protection against the Boers. Even after the British annexation in 1866, the so-called Basutoland retained its autonomous status. In 1868 it became a British protectorate. In 1869 Paramount Chief Letsie I succeeded Moshoeshoe I, followed by Paramount Chief Lerotholi in 1891 and Paramount Chief Letsie II in 1905.

In the 20th and 21st centuries

According to Abbreviationfinder website, the new constitution of 1965 restricted the role of Moshoeshoe II to that of a constitutional monarch. In the same year, the country’s first free elections were held, which was won by the South Africa-friendly Basutoland National Party (BNP), which was supported by Western foreign countries and headed by Leabua Jonathan, who then took over the post of Prime Minister.

The Kingdom of Lesotho gained independence in 1966. Jonathan ruled the country increasingly dictatorially, which ultimately led to civil war-like conditions. In terms of foreign policy, they distanced themselves from the South African apartheid regime, and in 1980 Jonathan even granted the ANC shelter in Lesotho.

In early 1986, the government was overthrown, not least with the help of an economic blockade by South Africa in a bloodless military coup under Major General Justin Metsing Lekhanya. In the same year, the contract for the “Lesotho Highland Water Project” (Africa’s largest water project to date) was signed with South Africa. Within 30 years, five large dams, hundreds of kilometers of motorways and water tunnels and two hydropower plants will be built in Lesotho should. With the water supply to the South African industrial area around Johannesburg, the country already generates around 25% of its total export income. However, this project has been called a “monument to corruption” by “Transparency International”.

In 1990 Mohato Bereng Seeiso was sworn in as King Lesie III. The military government under Lekhanja was again overthrown in 1991 by General Elias Tutsoana Ramaema. In 1993 a new constitution was passed. The parliamentary elections were won by the BCP, the office of Prime Minister was taken over by Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle. In 1998 the LCD won the parliamentary elections, and Prof. Pakalitha Mosisili became the new Prime Minister. The opposition accused the government of electoral fraud, and bloody riots ensued, which triggered the intervention of South African and Botswana troops. An all-party agreement was then reached through South African mediation to form a transitional government. The parliamentary elections in 2002 then reaffirmed the government already elected.

Lesotho Facts