Facts & figures
- Full name: The Kingdom of Lesotho
- Population: 2.2 million (UN, 2012)
- Capital: Maseru
- Area: 30,355 sq km (11,720 sq miles)
- Major languages: Sesotho, English
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 50 years (men), 48 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 loti (L) = 100 lisente
- Main exports: Water, diamonds, clothing, wool, mohair, food, livestock
- GNI per capita: US $1,210 (World Bank, 2011)
- Internet domain: .ls
- International dialling code: +266
King Letsie III succeeded his father, King Moshoeshoe, who was dethroned in 1990. Five years later, after the return to civilian government and amid political instability, he abdicated and his father was reinstated as monarch. Letsie III was restored as king in 1996 after his father died in a car accident. The monarch has no legislative or executive powers.
Visa & travel advice
Visa requirements to enter the Kingdom of Lesotho
- The passport must be at least six months (6) months validity
- Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports enter into Lesotho without being charged VISA fees (Gratis)
- Visa Application Form must fully competed and signed
- Two (2) passport type photographs
- Copy of a return airline ticket or itinerary
- Amount of 100 British Pounds
- Invitation Letter
- Visa will take three days to process
The hours for VISA consultations and processing is from 09h00 to 12h45 and 14h00 to 15h00. Proof of sufficient funds for support and a copy of a recent bank statement or letter of guarantee from employer. Countries that do not require Visas to enter the Kingdom of Lesotho are Commonwealth Member Countries.
- Best period
The weather in Lesotho can be unpredictable: the country is likely to have snow, rain, and high temperatures during the summer. Most of the country’s rainfall occurs during the summer months (October through April); January and February are the hottest months. We recommend planning your trip during January and February, but good weather can be experienced year-round.
Be sensible when you travel. Crime rates vary throughout Lesotho. Be alert and aware about your surroundings. Always keep important items like passports and excess cash in a safe place.
Lesotho (formerly Basutoland) was constituted as a native state under British protection by a treaty signed with the native chief Moshoeshoe in 1843. It was annexed to Cape Colony in 1871, but in 1884 it was restored to direct control by the Crown. The colony of Basutoland became the independent nation of Lesotho on Oct. 4, 1966, with King Moshoeshoe II as sovereign.
The national anthem of Lesotho is "Lesotho Fatse La Bontata Rona". Written by François Coillard, a French missionary, it appears in the popular computer game "Sims 2: University" as the theme from a videogame console.
Vocal choirs, which sing church music in Sesotho, are extremely popular. These choirs are formed in villages, towns, churches, etc., and can be heard on the radio every evening.
As an enclave of South Africa, it is not surprising that South African musicians have a large following in Lesotho. Most frequently heard on the radio are various sub-Saharan AfroPop styles, jazz, kwaito, and reggae.
While South African music is generally enjoyed in Lesotho, there is a tremendous following for famo (contemporary Sesotho music, which features the accordion and oil can drum) such as that by Mosotho Chakela. The music recording industry is nascent, but many of the Basotho musicians sign with South African companies - undermining growth prospects.
Lesotho literature is the literature of the African kingdom of Lesotho. Notable Basotho authors include Moroesi Akhionbare (1945– ), Thomas Mofolo (1876–1948), Caroline Ntseliseng Khaketla, Mzamane Nhlapo and Mpho Matsepo Nthunya.
Only a limited amount of Lesotho literature is available in the English language.
- Film industry
Lesotho has no recorded cinematic history. Although some foreign filmmakers have made documentaries subjecting the country, no local film has been produced. There are very few film-producing companies and filmmakers in the country. There is a significant amount of video production with at least two video editing facilities in Maseru. Lesotho TV and the Instructional Materials Resource Centre each have U-matic low band editing suites. The Screenwriters Institute (Pvt) Ltd and the Ministry of Agriculture's information section each have VHS editing suites. The South African film- and documentary-maker Don Edkins is based in Lesotho. He is from South African descent and won several film festival awards for his video productions like "The Color of Gold" and "Goldwidows: Women in Lesotho".
- Famous places
The Sehlabathebe National Park in the south eastern region of Lesotho, although fairly inaccessible (a 4 wheel drive vehicle is required) is definitely well worth the effort. This was the first designated National park in Lesotho.
Semonkong in itself is a popular attraction, as it is home to the Semonkong Falls, also known as the Maletsunyane Falls, the highest single drop in southern Africa and offers some spectacular unspoilt scenery. This picturesque waterfall is easily accessible from Semonkong by a five-kilometre walk along the Maletsunyane River, where you will have to opportunity of witnessing the river cascade 204meters into a tranquil swimmable pool below.
Kome Cave Dwellings
Away from anyone’s view, including that of warring tribes and the primeval cannibals that came to maraud Lesotho due to hunger in the early 19th century, is a remarkable village where cave dwellings have been carved and built under towering sandstone rocks. Almost two centuries later, these caves are still home to descendants of the original inhabitants (Basia and Bataung clans). There are also faded san paintings in the cave which indicates that the san people also occupied the cave.
- Architecture history
Over 80 percent of the population live in the lowlands where soil conditions are more favorable for agriculture. The western border of Lesotho has one of the highest population densities in Africa. Maseru (ma-SAY-roo), population of 400,000, is the capital city, located in this western border area. Political strife in 1998 resulted in a frenzy of looting and burning which destroyed the main thoroughfare and infrastructure of Maseru. Although much rebuilding has occurred, many historical buildings were lost. Other semi-urban areas are called "camptowns" and are very rustic in appearance. The main camptowns are Teyateyaneng, population twenty-four thousand; Leribe, population three-hundred thousand; Mafeteng, population 212,000; Mohale's Hoek, population 184,000. Most Basotho live in villages of fewer than 250 people.