Capital | Maseru
Population | 2,130,819 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 30,355 sq km
Official language | Sesotho, English
Holidays | Independence Day, 4 October (1966)
Currency | Maloti (LSL)
Time Zone | UTC+2
Best time to visit | May to September, to avoid the rains.
Connecting with the Culture | Spending a night in a Basotho village on the edge of townships surrounding Maseru. Hiking along the top of the Drakensberg escarpment. Climbing Thaba-Bosiu (Mountain at Night), where King Moshoeshoe the Great established his second mountain stronghold. Riding sure-footed Basotho ponies throughthe rugged and beautiful interior. Driving the spectacular road between Leribe and Katse over the Maluti Mountains. Following in the fossilised footsteps of dinosaurs near Quthing.
Read | `Stories By and About Women in Lesotho’, edited by K. Limakatso Kendall, containing tales told orally by Southern Sotho women and providing insights into women’s thoughts and decision making processes in Lesotho.
Listen | to the lekolulo, a fluet like instrument played by herd boys; the thomo, a stringed instrument played by women; and the setolo-tolo, a stringed instrument played with the mouth by men.
Eat | frikkadel (fried meatball) or koeksesters (small doughnuts dripping in honey)
Drink | locally made joala (sorghum beer) or maize beer.
In a word | Dumela (hello)
Characteristics | Poverty, landlocked by South Africa; rainmaking rituals; mountains; `the kingdom in the sky’.
Surprises | Dubbed `the kingdom in the sky’, Lesotho is a mountainous country landlocked in the heart of South Africa. Its forbidding terrain and the defensive walls of the Drakensberg and maluti ranges gave both sanctuary and strategic advantage to the Basotho (the people of Lesotho). Lesotho is an often surprising combination of rapidly developing modernity and ancient culture. The Basotho are traditionally buried in a sitting position, facing the rising sun and ready to lep up when called; the famous Basotho pony is the result of crossbreeding between short Javanese horses and European full mounts.