Landscape of Lesotho http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lucy_in_the_sky.jpg FlickrLickr
Lesotho is a small, landlocked country in southern Africa. It is an enclave completely surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho covers 30,355 sq km (12,727 sq mi) and has a population of slightly over two million people (2011 estimate). It is a Parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The king is the head of state while the prime minister the head of government.
Quiloane, Lesotho http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Qiloane_Lesotho.jpg Martin Schärli
Lesotho is two hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+2). Its official currency is the Lesotho loti (LSL). The official languages of Lesotho are Sesotho and English. Traffic is driven on the left here, just as in the United Kingdom. The phone IDD code is +266. The phone is 230V.
Lesotho is a highland country where even its lowest point is 1,400 m (4,593 ft) above sea level, and the country is located at an average elevation of 1,800 m (5,906 ft), making it one of the highest countries in the world. As such it has a cool climate with winter temperatures dropping to -7°C (19.4°F) while summer temperatures regularly touch 30°C (86°F).
Rondavels in Mafekeng, Lesotho http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rondavels_Mafekeng.jpg Rudi von Staden
Lesotho is a major exporter of diamonds and is fully self-sufficient in hydro-electricity. Despite its wealth of natural resources, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Its 2009 estimated GDP stood at just $1.327 billion, which is a per capita nominal GDP of $642. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity is $1,218.
The earliest people inhabiting Lesotho were the Khoisan hunter-gatherers. They were later replaced by Bantu people. In 1822, the kingdom of Basutoland emerged under King Moshoeshoe I. Printed works in the Sotho language was developed in the 19th century with help from missionaries.
Maletsunyane Falls near Semonkong village, Lesotho http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maletsunyanefalls.JPG BagelBelt
Basutoland became a British protectorate in 1868. Upon independence in 1966, it became the Kingdom of Lesotho. It was ruled by the Basotho National Party (BNP) under Dr. Leabua Jonathan until 1970, when it lost the elections to Basotho Congress Party (BCP). However, Leabua Jonathan refused to hand over power, and instead imprisoned the BCP leadership, and forcing the BCP to start an armed resistance.
In 1986 was the BNP forced out of office, in a military coup. The following year King Moshoeshoe II was forced into exile, and was replaced by his son King Letsie III.
Lesotho was then ruled by a military junta under Major General Justin Metsing Lekhanya, who was ousted in 1993 by Major General Elias Phisoana Ramaema, who set in motion the return to a democratically elected government under the BCP. In 1992 King Moshoeshoe II returned, but as an ordinary citizen.
Lesotho Gorge, an hour from Malealea Lodge http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lesotho-Gorge.jpg FlickrLickr
In 1994, Letsie III deposed the BCP government, with help from the military, when the BCP government refused to reinstate his father, Moshoeshoe II, according to constitution. After much negotiations, the BCP government was reinstated and Letsie III abdicated in place of his father. Unfortunately Moshoeshoe II died the following year in a road accident, and Letsie III returned as king. The political situation in Lesotho continues to be turbulent to this day.
Planning your visit to Lesotho
Visitors from the following country can enter Lesotho for up to 30 days without requiring a visa: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.
You can fly to Moshoeshoe Aiport, located 18 km from the capital Maseru, from Johannesburg. There are daily flights between the two cities. Note that passengers often lost their luggage and the airport has no taxis unless you arrange for one in advance.
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