What you need to know about Maseru
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 330,760 in the 2016 census. 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”.
Maseru is a landlocked country encircled by South Africa. The city is on the Caledon River. Traditional crafts feature at the cone-shaped Basotho Hat, a shop and information center. On the Thaba Bosiu plateau, east of the city, are ruins dating from the 19th-century reign of King Moshoeshoe. Thaba Bosiu overlooks Mount Qiloane, a conical mountain that is one of the nation’s symbols.
Population: 519 186 (2016)
Area: 138 km²
The Loti (plural: maLoti) is the currency of the Kingdom of Lesotho. It is subdivided into 100 Lisente (sg. Sente). It is pegged to the South African rand on a 1:1 basis through the Common Monetary Area, and both are accepted as legal tender within Lesotho.
Maseru has a subtropical highland climate (Cwb, according to the Köppen climate classification), 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). The average rainfall ranges from 3 mm in July to 111 mm (4.4 inches) in January.
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 the riots the city has worked 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 manufacturing concerns. Since the expiration of the Multi Fibre Arrangement the textile industry in Lesotho has diminished. The city’s products once included candles, carpets and mohair products but these have been overshadowed by South African industries.
A railway line, built in 1905, bridges the Mohokare River to connect Maseru with Marseilles on South Africa’s Bloemfontein–Bethlehem main line.
Kingsway, the road joining the former Leabua Jonathan Airport, now Mejametalana Airport 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. 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 and Roma. The South African N8 road leads from the Maseru Bridge border post west towards Ladybrand and Bloemfontein.
An international airport called the Moshoeshoe I International Airport is nearby, at Thoteng-ea-Moli, Mazenod. The National University of Lesotho is located in Roma, 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Maseru.