Maseru Commonwealth Walkway

Lesotho / Africa

Lesotho is an enclaved country surrounded entirely by South Africa.  It has an area of just over 11,600 sq. miles and a population of around 2 million.  The country was previously the British Crown Colony of Basutoland, which existed between 1884 and 1966, Lesotho declared independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966. It is now a fully sovereign state and a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Union, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The official languages are Sesotho and English. The name Lesotho roughly translates to ‘Land of the Sotho’. The Lesotho Government is a parliamentary or constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister, Moeketsi Majoro, is the head of government and has executive authority. The King of Lesotho, Letsie III (born 1963), serves a largely ceremonial function.  He no longer possesses any executive authority and is prohibited from actively participating in political initiatives.  He succeeded his father when he was forced into exile in 1990 (briefly returning in 1995, only to be killed in a car crash in 1996).  Prince Charles attended the King’s coronation in 1997. Because of its elevation, Lesotho remains cooler throughout the year than other regions at the same latitude, with most of its thunderstorms falling within the summer months. Snow is also common in the highlands between May and September.  There are 339 species of bird in Lesotho, including 10 globally threatened species and 2 introduced species, 17 reptile species, including geckos, snakes, and lizards, and 60 mammal species, including the endangered white-tailed rat. Fun fact:  Lesotho has the ‘highest and lowest point’ of any country, leading to its nickname – the ‘Kingdom of the Sky’. Due to Lesotho’s many mountain streams, the country’s biggest treasures are water and diamonds.  In 2010, Lesotho earned nearly $70 million selling these resources to South Africa.  Maseru: Maseru is the capital and largest city of Lesotho.  Located on the Caledon River, it lies directly on the Lesotho–South Africa border.  In 2016 Maseru had a population of 330,760. When Lesotho became a British protectorate in 1869, Maseru was established as a police camp, and until 1871 functioned as the state’s administrative capital, at which point the administration of Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony.  During their rule between 1871 and 1884, Basutoland was treated similarly to territories that had been forcefully annexed.  This led to the Gun War in 1881, with many Maseru buildings being destroyed.  In 1884 Basutoland was restored to its status as a Crown colony and Maseru was again made capital.  When the country achieved independence in 1966, the city retained its status as the capital city.  Maseru is a Sesotho word meaning ‘red sandstones’.  Between 1869 and 1871, Masaru initially

3.5 miles / 5.6 kilometres

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