Maseru is the capital and largest city of Lesotho. It is also the capital of the Maseru District. Located on the Caledon River, Maseru lies directly on the Lesotho-South Africa border. Maseru is Lesotho's capital city with a population of approximately 227,880.
The city was established as a police camp and assigned as the capital after the country became a British protectorate in 1869. When the country achieved independence in 1966, Maseru retained its status as capital. The name of the city is a Sesotho word meaning "red sandstones".
|POPULATION :||City: 227,880|
|TIME ZONE :||South Africa Standard Time (UTC+2)|
|LANGUAGE :||Sesotho (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa|
|RELIGION :||Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%|
|AREA :||138 km2 (53 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||1,600 m (5,200 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||29.31°S 27.48°E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 45.40%
• Female: 54.60%
|ETHNIC :||Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%|
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+266|
Maseru is the capital of and largest city in Lesotho and is very close to the north western border with South Africa. Although there isn't a huge deal to see in Maseru, it is well worth stopping here upon entry into Lesotho to stock up before venturing further in (where there are very, very few Western-style shops).
Maseru was founded by the British as a small police camp in 1869, following the conclusion of the Free State–Basotho Wars when Basutoland became a British protectorate.
Maseru initially functioned as the state's administrative capital between 1869 and 1871, before administration of Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony. During their rule between 1871 and 1884, Basutoland was treated similarly to territories that had been forcefully annexed, much to the chagrin of the Basotho.
Prior to Lesotho's independence, Maseru had remained relatively small; it was contained within well-defined colonial boundaries and had little room for growth, while the British had little interest in developing the city. After 1966 Maseru experienced rapid expansion: its area increased around sevenfold, from around 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi) to the current area of 138 square kilometres (53 sq mi), due to incorporation of nearby peri-urban villages to the city proper.
After the 1998 parliamentary elections in Lesotho led to suspicions of vote fraud and a military intervention by South Africa, much of the city was damaged by riots and pillaging. The cost of repairing the damage done to the city was estimated at around two billion rand (US$350 million), and after nearly a decade, the effects of the riots could still be seen within the city.
Maseru has a subtropical highland climate, categorised by warm, rainy summers and cool to chilly, dry winters.
The average mean daily temperature during summer — from December to March in the Southern Hemisphere — is 22 °C (72 °F).
During winter, between June and September, the average temperature is 9 °C (48 °F).
The hottest month is January, with temperatures between 15 and 33 °C (59 and 91 °F).
During the coldest month, July, the temperatures range from −3 to 17 °C (27 to 63 °F).
Maseru is located in northwest Lesotho by the South African border, denoted by the Mohokare River. The two countries are connected by a border post at the Maseru Bridge, which crosses the river. On the South African side, Ladybrand is the town closest to Maseru. The city lies in a shallow valley at the foot of the Hlabeng-Sa-Likhama, foothills of the Maloti Mountains. The elevation of the city is listed as 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) above sea level. The city has an area of around 138 square kilometres (53 sq mi).
The commerce in the city is centered on two neighboring central business districts, which have developed around Kingsway and serve as major employment centres. The western business district holds larger office buildings, department stores and several banks. The eastern business district hosts mainly smaller businesses, markets and street vendors. The central business districts are the largest employment centers within the city.
Maseru's economy is one that is growing at a very rapid speed which is notable particularly in terms of foreign investment and tourism since independence from Britain and economic ruin when political violence broke out in 1998. Since then the people of the city have been working hard to undo the damage caused.
Maseru's industry is split into two main areas. The one to the north of the central business districts along Moshoeshoe Road holds flour mills and other major companies. The other industrial sector lies to the south of the central business districts, at the Thetsane district, and houses mainly textile and footwear companies.
In Maseru, there are several internet cafes, although fairly cheap they are pretty slow at best.
Cellphones are available for hire from various shops in Maseru. If visiting Lesotho (or anywhere in Southern Africa) then bring an unlocked cellphone with you and buy pay-as-you-go SIM cards in each country you stay - a good way of staying connected. Most towns in Lesotho have cellphone coverage.
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