Next in my travel series of throwback trips from last year is Lesotho. I’m writing about Lesotho – a Kingdom within the borders of South Africa – because it meant so much to me when I was there. I was very lucky to get the opportunity to visit as part of a Rotary trip; more specifically, a club visit by my mother District Governor Gianna Doubell. Needless to say, I loved it so much that if I could go back tomorrow I would. Unfortunately, I visited such a remote area that chances of that are highly unlikely!
The history of people living in the area now known as Lesotho goes back as many as 40,000 years.
The present Lesotho (then called Basutoland) emerged as a single polity under paramount chief Moshoeshoe I in 1822.
Under Moshoeshoe I, Basutoland joined other tribes in their struggle against the Lifaqane associated with the reign of Shaka Zulu from 1818 to 1828.
Read on for more photos + facts about this fascinating Kingdom in Africa!
Facts About Lesotho, South Africa
- A high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa.
- Is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and mountain ranges including the 3,482m-high peak of Thabana Ntlenyana.
- On the Thaba Bosiu plateau, near Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, are ruins dating from the 19th-century reign of King Moshoeshoe I.
- Thaba Bosiu overlooks iconic Mount Qiloane, an enduring symbol of the nation’s Basotho people.
- The country forms an enclave within South Africa, bordering on three of the latter’s provinces—KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, and Eastern Cape.
- Like only two other independent states in the world (Vatican City and the Republic of San Marino), Lesotho is completely encircled by another country, on which it must depend for access to the outside world.
- Two-thirds of Lesotho consists of mountains.
- The highest peak, Mount Ntlenyana, is 11,424 feet (3,482 metres) above sea level.
- Lesotho is largely covered in grasses, although trees also appear on the landscape. Indigenous trees include Cape willows, cheche bush (used for fuel), and wild olives.
- Some rivers contain yellowfish and the rare Maloti minnow; trout and the North African catfish have also been introduced.
- Except for English, all the main languages spoken in Lesotho are members of the Niger-Congo language family.
- Sotho (Sesotho), a Bantu language, is spoken by the majority of the population, though both Sotho and English are official languages in the country.
- Zulu is spoken by a small but significant minority. Phuthi, a dialect of Swati, and Xhosa are also spoken in parts of Lesotho.
- Since independence in 1966, there has been considerable population movement toward the capital city, Maseru.
- about three-fourths of the population is rural.
- Families and clans still cluster together as units in the numerous small rural villages, where social cohesion is strengthened by the persistence of clan and family loyalties. The villages range in size from one large family to four or five extended families, with an average of 30 to 50 nuclear families.
- The villages, situated on the plains and surrounded by aloes and trees, offer fine views of the rocky highlands.
- the majority of the rural population is involved with subsistence agriculture. The most important crops are corn (maize), sorghum, wheat, beans, and peas. Cattle products have been exported, and wool and mohair are produced and exported
- Lesotho is also home to a Zulu minority, a small population of Asian or mixed ancestry, and a European community that is dominated by expatriate teachers, missionaries, aid workers, technicians, and development advisers.
- The Sotho (also known as Basotho) form the overwhelming majority of the country’s population.