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State

Capital

Lesotho

Maseru

Currency unit

Maloti

Connections

Empire

Southern

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Kingdom formed by Moshoeshoe (Moshweshwe) of people fleeing from the Mfecane, the disturbances caused by Shaka's conquests. The kingdom was a refuge in the mountains from the fighting and disruption in what later became the Transvaal and Orange Free State.

The language of the people is Sesutho, that of the western parts of South Africa, rather than one of the click languages found in the eastern coastal areas across the mountains. The country is on the frontier between these two language groups. The British "protected" it in order to prevent the Boers of the Orange Free State getting access to the sea.

When South Africa was formed in 1910 it remained a British Protectorate, one of the three High Commission territories with Swaziland and Bechuanaland (now Botswana). When it became independent in 1966 it was completely surrounded by South Africa and heavily influenced by the South African government. To the east was the so-called independent homeland of Transkei (recognized as independent only by the South African government). South Africa treated Lesotho as a source of labor and water from the headwaters of the Orange River (Senqunyane).

In 1970 the Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan refused to accept the result of an election which the opposition is believed to have won. He seized power in an autogolpe. In 1986 he was overthrown by General Justin Lekhanya probably with the support of the South African government. The king Moshoeshoe the second went into exile and was deposed in November 1990 in favor of his son but restored in January 1995 (died January 1996).

Following the change in South Africa the status of Lesotho changed also. It had been, certainly since Lekhanya took over, the equivalent of the South African Bantustans or Homelands.

Possibly Lesotho may become a federated state in a new southern Africa, along with Namibia, Swaziland and Botswana. The Basutoland Congress, now the government, has said it intended to incorporate the country in the new South Africa. It won the election in March 1993. The new federal structure agreed for South Africa could accommodate the country but this is unlikely.

However, as the government is bankrupt (2010), being unable to pay for one third of the population infected with HIV, there is an increasing desire to become a Province of South Africa. Could South Africa accept them? See this article.

Languages

Sesutho, one of the Tswana group of the Bantu family

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

For many years there was a military government with links to South Africa. It is believed to have been installed by the wish of South Africa to prevent Lesotho's being used as a base for opponents of Apartheid. The king, Moshoeshoe the second, was then deposed by the military in favor of his son Letsie but in May 1992 was attempting to return to lead the country against the military and to hold elections at which the opposition was believed to be favored to win.

Elections in March 1993 resulted in the Basutoland Congress Party winning a landslide. This party had been the opposition since independence. It announced support for the South African African National Congress, though it had had links in the past with the Pan Africanist Congress.

August 1994 the king Letsie announced the dissolution of parliament, but he was ignored. Jan 1995 Moshoeshoe was restored but died in January 1996, when Letsie became king again.

A disputed election in September 1998 led to disturbances and a South African peacekeeping force - that actually resulted in the destruction of the capital.

A rerun in 2002 May resulted in a decisive victory for the Lesotho Congress for Democracy.

Unlike in Swaziland the king has no real power.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

The 1992 drought caused a shortage of food and electricity. The economy depended on migrant labor in South Africa.

The decline in need for mine labour has caused unemployment. Until recently world trade conditions made Lesotho a good site for textile factories but the end of the textile rules have allowed China to take most of the textile trade. Thousands of workers lost their jobs in Lesotho.

Drought has hit subsistence agriculture. The country is in a bad way.

There is a Diamond mine.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

The Senqunyane dam project benefits South Africa but displaces Lesotho people.

One third of the adult population is said to be infected with HIV.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Said to be improving after the end of the dictatorship and near civil war.

Climate effects

Last revised 8/06/10


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