Saturday, May 4, 2013

Let's Take a Trip...

In preparation for our trip around the world, I thought that I would prepare for all of us a brief lesson on the places that we will travel. I love geography and history and social science and world needs, so I wanted to allow each of us the opportunity to learn a little something. 

The Kingdom of Lesotho

Basic Facts:
Placement: Lesotho is located in southern Africa, inside the country of South Africa. 
Square Mileage: 11,718 sq. miles (about the size of the state of Maryland)
Capital: Maseru
Population (2013 estimate)1,936,181. 
Official Languages: English and Sesotho
Currency: Maloti ($1US = 8.91 Mal--which is also the exchange rate for the South African Rand)
Lesotho is also called "The Mountain Kingdom" because of the rugged mountains within it's borders. The Drakensburg Mountains border the eastern side of the country. Because of it's placement in the Southern hemisphere, it experiences seasons opposite those in the Northern hemisphere. Right now, they are heading into winter. During winter, the temperature can bottom in the low 30's. Snow can be found, apparently enough for a ski resort in southern Lesotho. 

Only one tenth of all land in Lesotho is arable, growing corn, wheat, sorghum, pulses (legumes), and barley. The rest of their food is imported from South Africa. 

Lesotho is a monarchy with a parliamentary system like that of Great Britain. In 2012, there was a general election for a new Prime Minister. The monarch is King Letsi III, but he has no real executive or legislative power. 

The history of a country and a people is always complex and there is not enough space to justly describe their fight for independence. Nevertheless, Lesotho gained initial independence, recognized as Basotholand, an protectorate of Britain in the late 1800's. It became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966. King Moshoeshoe I (pronounced Me-shew-shew) is an important historical figure. 

The country is made up almost entirely of the Sotho people. About 80% are Christians while the rest practice indigenous religions. The non-Sotho people in the country are usually involved in missionary, aid, or business work. 

Social Issues:

Expected Life Span: 51 years. 
Infant Mortality Rate 55/1000
Unemployment: 45%
HIV/AIDS infection rate: 23%

Things to see and do:
     Visit Semongkong or Malealea: traditional Basotho trading villages that were outposts in the mountains. Semongkong is near  Maletsunyane Falls, one of the highest, single waterfall drops in the world.  
     Ride the Basotho pony.
     Hike/Visit Thabu-Boisu: the mountain where King Moshoeshoe staked his claim and protected his people. 
     Go meet your new daughter. (I'm partial to this one!) 


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