Maseru

Maseru

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Maseru is the capital of Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

. It is also the capital of the Maseru District
Maseru District
Maseru is a district of Lesotho. It has an area of 4,279 km² and a population in 2006 of approximately 429,823. Maseru is also the name of the district's capital, and is the only city in the district. Additionally it is the capital of the country. It is the largest urban area in the country,...

. Located on the Caledon River
Caledon River
The Caledon River is located in south-east Africa, rising in the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho. Origin in the former bantustan of QwaQwa, near the border with Lesotho, southwest of Witsieshoek. It then flows south-west, marking the border with South Africa and Lesotho before entering South...

, bordering South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Maseru is Lesotho's only sizable city, with a population of approximately 227,880 (2006). The city was established as a police camp and assigned as the capital after the country became a British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 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 "place of the red sandstone".

History


Maseru was founded by the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 as a small police camp in 1869, following the conclusion of the Free State-Basotho War
Free State-Basotho War
Free State-Basotho Wars were a series of wars fought between Moshoeshoe I, the ruler of the Basotho kingdom and the Orange Free State of the Boers. These can be divided into the Senekal's War of 1858 and the Seqiti War, which included two conflicts, in 1865−1866 and 1867−1868, separated by a short...

s when Basutoland
Basutoland
Basutoland or officially the Territory of Basutoland, was a British Crown colony established in 1884 after the Cape Colony's inability to control the territory...

 became a British protectorate. Maseru is located at the edge of the "conquered territories" relinquished to the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

 (now the Free State
Free State
The Free State is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa's judicial capital. Its historical origins lie in the Orange Free State Boer republic and later Orange Free State Province. The current borders of the province date from 1994 when the Bantustans...

 province of South Africa) as part of the peace terms. It was located 24 kilometres (14.9 mi) west of Basotho
Basotho
The ancestors of the Sotho people have lived in southern Africa since around the fifth century. The Sotho nation emerged from the accomplished diplomacy of Moshoeshoe I who gathered together disparate clans of Sotho–Tswana origin that had dispersed across southern Africa in the early 19th century...

 King Moshoeshoe I
Moshoeshoe I
Moshoeshoe was born at Menkhoaneng in the Northern part of present-day Lesotho. He was the first son of Mokhachane, a minor chief of the Bamokoteli lineage- a branch of the Koena clan. In his early childhood, he helped his father gain power over some other smaller clans. At the age of 34...

's stronghold of Thaba Bosiu
Thaba Bosiu
Thaba Bosiu is a sandstone plateau with an area of approximately 2 km2 and a height of 1,804 meters above sea level. It is located between the Orange and Caledon Rivers in the Maseru District of Lesotho, 24 km east of the country's capital Maseru....

, the previous de facto capital. A bustling market town soon grew around the area.

Maseru initially functioned as the state's administrative capital between 1869 and 1871, before administration of Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

. 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. This led to the Gun War
Gun War
The Gun War also known as the Basuto War was an 1880-1881 conflict in the British territory of Basutoland in Southern Africa, fought between Cape Colony forces and rebellious Basotho chiefs over tribal rights...

 in 1881 and the burning of many buildings in Maseru. In 1884, Basutoland was restored its status as a Crown colony, and Maseru was again made capital. When Basutoland gained its independence and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966, Maseru remained the country's capital.

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 (53.3 sq mi), due to incorporation of nearby peri-urban villages to the city proper. The annual population growth rates remained around 7% for several decades, before tapering off to around 3.5% between 1986 and 1996.

After the 1998 parliamentary elections in Lesotho led to suspicions of vote fraud and a military intervention by South Africa
South African intervention in Lesotho
The 1998 military intervention in Lesotho, codenamed Operation Boleas, was a military invasion launched in the name of the Southern African Development Community , and led by South Africa through its South African National Defence Force . Troops from Botsawana were supposed to join SANDF forces...

, much of the city was damaged by riots and pillaging. The city was completely burned and people looted in the streets The cost of repairing the damage done to the city was estimated at around two billion rand
South African rand
The rand is the currency of South Africa. It takes its name from the Witwatersrand , the ridge upon which Johannesburg is built and where most of South Africa's gold deposits were found. The rand has the symbol "R" and is subdivided into 100 cents, symbol "c"...

 (350 million $US
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

), and after nearly a decade, the effects of the riots could still be seen within the city.

Geography



Maseru is located in northwest Lesotho by the South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

n 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
Ladybrand
Ladybrand is a small agricultural town in the Free State province of South Africa, situated 18 km from Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. Ladybrand is one of five towns that forms the Mantsopa Local Municipality...

 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
Maloti Mountains
The Maloti Mountains , are a mountain range found in the highlands of Lesotho and named the Drakensberg in South Africa. They form a high alpine basalt plateau up to 3400m in height. The highest point is Thabana Ntlenyana 3482m in the north-east...

. The elevation of the city is listed as 1600 metres (5,249.3 ft) above sea level. The city has an area of around 138 square kilometres (53.3 sq mi).

Climate


Maseru has a subtropical highland climate
Oceanic climate
An oceanic climate, also called marine west coast climate, maritime climate, Cascadian climate and British climate for Köppen climate classification Cfb and subtropical highland for Köppen Cfb or Cwb, is a type of climate typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of some of the...

 (Cwb, according to the Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

), 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 (71.6 °F). During winter, between June and September, the average temperature is 9 °C (48.2 °F). The hottest month is January, with temperatures between 15 and 33 °C (59 and 91.4 F). During the coldest month, July, the temperatures range from -3 C. The average rainfall ranges from 7 mm in June to 141 millimetres (5.6 in) in February.

Demographics


The latest (2006) census lists the city's population at 227,880, or around a tenth of the entire population of the country, and half of the total urban population. This includes 103,520 males and 124,360 females, or around 100 women for every 83 men. The population of the city was at 28,000 by the 1966 census, and 110,000 by the 1986 census, demonstrating the early rapid expansion of the city after independence.

Transport



A railway line
Maseru branch line
The Maseru branch line is a railway line that connects Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, to the railway network of South Africa. It branches from the Bloemfontein–Bethlehem line at Marseilles, Free State, and runs in a south-easterly direction for to the Caledon River...

, built in 1905, bridges the Mohokare River to connect Maseru with Marseilles on South Africa's Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

Bethlehem
Bethlehem, Free State
Bethlehem is a town in the eastern Free State province of South Africa that is situated on the Liebenbergs river along a fertile valley just south of the Rooiberg Mountains on the N5 highway....

 main line.

Kingsway, the road joining the former Leabua Jonathan
Leabua Jonathan
Joseph Leabua Jonathan was the second Prime Minister of Lesotho. He succeeded Chief Sekhonyana Nehemia Maseribane following a by-election and held that post from 1965 to 1986.-Early life and career:...

 Airport, now Mejametalana Airport
Mejametalana Airport
Mejametalana Airport is a military airport in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. It served as the Maseru's main airport until the opening of Moshoeshoe I International Airport, located in the town of Mazenod, about southeast of downtown Maseru....

 and the Royal Palace in Maseru, was the first paved road in Lesotho. Having previously been just a dirt path, it was renovated in 1947 for the visit of members of the British Royal Family
British Royal Family
The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people as the relations of the monarch in her or his role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with...

. It remained the only paved road in the country until Lesotho's independence in 1966. Two main roads lead outside of Maseru, Main North 1 to the northeast and Main South 1 to the southeast toward Mazenod
Mazenod, Lesotho
Mazenod is a community council located in the Maseru District of western Lesotho. The population in 2006 was 27,553. It is located to the southeast of the capital Maseru. Points of interest include Moshoeshoe I International Airport, Lesotho's only international airport.-Education:Mazenod High...

 and Roma
Roma, Lesotho
Roma is a settlement under the Manonyane Community Council in the Maseru District of Lesotho, some 34 kilometers southeast of Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. The Roma valley is broad and fertile, and is surrounded by sandstone cliffs topped to the East by basalt mountains which provide magnificent...

. The South African N8 road leads from the Maseru Bridge border post west towards Ladybrand
Ladybrand
Ladybrand is a small agricultural town in the Free State province of South Africa, situated 18 km from Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. Ladybrand is one of five towns that forms the Mantsopa Local Municipality...

 and Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

.

An international airport called the Moshoeshoe International Airport
Moshoeshoe International Airport
Moshoeshoe I International Airport is an airport serving Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. The airport is located in the town of Mazenod, about southeast of downtown Maseru.-Facilities:...

 is nearby, at Thoteng-ea-Moli, Mazenod. The National University of Lesotho
National University of Lesotho
The National University of Lesotho is situated at Roma some 34 kilometers southeast of Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. The Roma valley is broad and is surrounded by a barrier of rugged mountains which provides magnificent scenery. The University enjoys a temperate climate with four distinctive...

 is located in Roma, 32 kilometres (19.9 mi) from Maseru.

Economy


The commerce in the city is centered around two neighboring central business district
Central business district
A central business district is the commercial and often geographic heart of a city. In North America this part of a city is commonly referred to as "downtown" or "city center"...

s, 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.

Up until 2004 Maseru had a growing textile industry supported by and invested in by Chinese manufactures. Since the expiration of the Multi Fibre Arrangement
Multi Fibre Arrangement
The Multi Fibre Arrangement governed the world trade in textiles and garments from 1974 through 2004, imposing quotas on the amount developing countries could export to developed countries. It expired on 1 January 2005....

 the textile industry in Lesotho has tapered off. The city's manufactures once included candle
Candle
A candle is a solid block or cylinder of wax with an embedded wick, which is lit to provide light, and sometimes heat.Today, most candles are made from paraffin. Candles can also be made from beeswax, soy, other plant waxes, and tallow...

s, carpet
Carpet
A carpet is a textile floor covering consisting of an upper layer of "pile" attached to a backing. The pile is generally either made from wool or a manmade fibre such as polypropylene,nylon or polyester and usually consists of twisted tufts which are often heat-treated to maintain their...

s and mohair products but these have been overshadowed by South African industry.

Culture



Architecture


Most of the traditional thatched-roof mud-brick houses, called rondavel
Rondavel
A rondavel is a westernised version of the African-style hut.The rondavel is usually round or oval in shape and is traditionally made with materials that can be locally found in raw form. Its walls are often constructed from stones. The mortar may consist of sand, soil, or combinations of these,...

s, have been replaced with modern housing and office blocks which have a tint of traditional architecture. There have recently been some new buildings in the center of the city, particularly the building across LNDC center which now houses Good times cafe, a Vodacom shop, and offices and the new building of the Ministry of Health which was completed in late 2007.

Buildings destroyed in the 1998 political uprising have been rebuilt and have shops like Fruits and Veg City, Woolworths and Mr Price to name a few. The New Lehakoe National sports center, which is in between the central Bank of Lesotho and the colonial parliament building is equipped with tennis courts, swimming pools, conference centers, bars and gymnasiums.

There are some colonial era buildings around the center of the city, most notably the Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Maseru, and the Anglican St. John's Church. Other sights include the Royal Palace, the Parliament building and the State House.

Tourism



Maseru has a total of six hotels, two of which, the Lesotho Sun and the Maseru Sun, have casino
Casino
In modern English, a casino is a facility which houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities. Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships or other tourist attractions...

s. During the 1960s, prior to the relaxation of South Africa's gambling laws, the casinos were popular attractions among South African visitors, but the interest in them has since waned. The Basotho Hat shop at the city's entrance is a popular source for souvenirs.

The main tourist attractions of Lesotho, Lancer's Gap, Sani Pass
Sani Pass
Sani Pass is located in the western end of KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa on the road between Underberg and Mokhotlong, Lesothoit is a route that connects Kwazulu-Natal and Lesotho. It is a notoriously dangerous road, which requires the use of a 4x4 vehicle...

, Afri-Ski resort, Katse dam
Katse Dam
The Katse Dam, a concrete arch dam on the Malibamat'so River in Lesotho, is Africa's second largest dam....

, Thaba Bosiu
Thaba Bosiu
Thaba Bosiu is a sandstone plateau with an area of approximately 2 km2 and a height of 1,804 meters above sea level. It is located between the Orange and Caledon Rivers in the Maseru District of Lesotho, 24 km east of the country's capital Maseru....

 and the Maluti Mountains are located a short distance from Maseru. However, distances are deceiving in Lesotho as even a 120 km trip can take over 3 hours due to the rugged terrain.

Sports


Lesotho's national stadium
National stadium
Many countries have a national football stadium, which typically serves as the primary or exclusive home for one or more of a country's national representative sports teams. The term is most often used in reference to an association football stadium. Usually, a national stadium will be in or very...

, the multi-purpose Setsoto Stadium, is located in Maseru. It has a capacity of between 20,000 and 25,000 people. The stadium is mostly used for football
Football (soccer)
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball...

 matches and houses the Lesotho national football team
Lesotho national football team
The Lesotho national football team, nicknamed the Likuena , is the national team of Lesotho and is controlled by the Lesotho Football Association...

, but also holds events in athletics.

12 out of 16 of the teams currently playing in the Lesotho Premier League
Lesotho Premier League
The Lesotho Premier League also known as Vodacom Premier League is the top football division in Lesotho and was created in 1970. Vodacom Lesotho are the current league sponsor and will back the Premier League for three seasons...

 reside in Maseru. As of 2008, 32 out of the 38 championships contested in the league have gone to Maseru-based teams. Most successful of these have been Matlama FC
Matlama FC
Matlama football club are the champions of Lesotho, and the most successful club in the country.-Achievements:*Lesotho Premier League: 9*Lesotho Cup: 6-Performance in CAF competitions:*CAF Champions League: 2 appearances...

 and the football team of the Royal Lesotho Defense Force, with eight championships each.

Sister cities


List of sister cities of Maseru, designated by Sister Cities International
Sister Cities International
Sister Cities International is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between United States and international communities. More than 2,000 cities, states and counties are partnered in 136 countries around the world...

. Austin
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

, USA

External links