Maseru

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Maseru is the capital of Lesotho. It is also the capital of the Maseru District. Located on the Caledon River, bordering South Africa, 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 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".[1]

Contents

History

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.[2][3] Maseru is located at the edge of the "conquered territories" relinquished to the Orange Free State (now the Free State province of South Africa) as part of the peace terms. It was located 24 kilometres (15 mi) west of Basotho King Moshoeshoe I's stronghold of Thaba Bosiu, the previous de facto capital. A bustling market town soon grew around the area.[4]

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.[5] This led to the Gun War in 1881 and the burning of many buildings in Maseru.[1] 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.[3]

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