Formerly Basutoland, Lesotho is an African country known for its high terrain, ethnic communities, and beautiful sceneries. Even though most of its adult citizens are literate, it is still classified as a lower middle-income country and one of the worst hit by HIV-Aids. This article highlights some mind-blowing Lesotho facts to enlighten you.
1. It Is an Enclave Country
Not only is Lesotho a landlocked country (it does not border a sea or ocean), it is also one of three enclave countries (a territory surrounded by another state or territorial waters) – it is entirely surrounded by South Africa. The other two enclave countries are San Marino and the Vatican, surrounded by Italy.
2. A Person from Lesotho Is Called a Basotho
The Sotho ethnic community forms the largest population in Lesotho (over 99%). As such, a person from the region is referred to as a Basotho.
3. Lesotho Gained Its Independence in 1966
Before 1966, Lesotho was under British leadership for about a century and was known as Basutoland. After gaining its independence, its name changed to the Kingdom of Lesotho, with the Basotho National Party as the ruling party. A de facto government led by Leaubua Jonathan later ensued in January 1970.
4. It Has One of the Scariest Runways
Located on the top of a remote plateau, the Matekane Airstrip in Lesotho is one of the scariest in the world. The end of the runway is a 600-meter drop; aircraft must achieve the required takeoff speed before reaching here, or a catastrophe will ensue.
5. Fossils of a Dinosaur Were Discovered in Lesotho
Early fossils believed to be those of a dinosaur were uncovered in Lesotho. The bones, estimated to be more than 200 million years old, were named Lesothosaurus.
Still on dinosaurs, a footprint measuring about 57 centimeters, believed to be of the species, was discovered in the country. Experts believe they are those of a Kayentapus ambrokholohali, Tyrannosaurus rex’s relative. This makes Lesotho the country where the biggest dinosaurs roamed.
6. Sesotho is Lesotho’s National Language
Sometimes known as Southern Sesotho, Sesotho is the national language of Lesotho and is spoken by the majority of the natives. However, the country’s constitution also recognizes English as another official language.
7. The Highest Pub in Africa Is in Lesotho
Located 2,874 meters above sea level, the Sani Mountain Lodge in the Sani Pass is the highest-located pub in Africa. The clouds look so near to the region.
8. Lesotho Has the Highest Lowest Point
Lesotho’s lowest elevation is 1,400 meters (the junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers), making it the highest lowest point of any country. If anything, it’s the only country entirely existing above 1,000 meters above sea level. This explains why it is sometimes called the “Kingdom of the Sky.”
9. Lesotho Has High HIV Positive Cases
With over a quarter of the population suffering from HIV-AIDS, records show Lesotho has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, only behind Swaziland. Its neighbor, South Africa, is also in the mix.
10. Most of the People in Lesotho Are Christians
Christianity is the most prevalent religion in Lesotho, with about 95% of the population practicing it. Catholics take up the biggest share among these, boasting 49%. They are distantly followed by Protestants at 18%, Pentecostals at 15%, and Anglicans at 5%. Non-Christians make up 8% of the population.
11. It Is Home to Maletsunyane Falls
Among the many beautiful sceneries you can visit while in Lesotho, Maletsunyane Falls is up there with the best. It is more than 650 feet (192 meters) high, making it taller than Niagara Falls in North America and many others across the globe.
12. One of the Biggest Diamonds Was Discovered in Lesotho
In 2018, a diamond weighing about 18 carats (more than a baseball) was discovered in Lesotho. This made history as it was the fifth-largest rough diamond ever found and was a critical part of the country’s history.
13. Most of the People In Lesotho Are Educated
Lesotho boasts one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, with more than 85% of its adult population educated. Experts attribute this to the Sesotho speakers being among the first to embrace written texts.
14. Soccer Is the Most Popular Sport in Lesotho
Basothos prefer soccer, the most widely spread sport in the country. Most of the country’s professional players ply their trade in South Africa. It’s currently rated at 151 by the official FIFA ranking. Other popular sports in the region include long-distance running, judo, and boxing.