Maseru is the capital city of Lesotho, a small landlocked country which is surrounded by South Africa on all sides. Lesotho is officially known as the Kingdom of Lesotho, and while it is a monarchy, there is a prime minister and parliament who deal with the country's political concerns.
Maseru, which is said to mean 'Place of red sandstone' in the Sesotho language, is located on the Lesotho - South Africa border. This border is demarcated by the Mohokare River and the South African town of Ladybrand is connected to Maseru by the Maseru Bridge.
Maseru was initially established as a police camp and developed into a city, and named as the capital, when the British took over the country. After Lesotho gained independence in 1966, the city saw major expansions, with an influx of people from the rural areas and the incorporation of peri-urban settlements into the city itself.
Today Maseru is still a relatively small city by international standards, and while the many buildings are modern, other developments, such as the Pioneer Mall - the first shopping Centre to be built in Lesotho - which was only erected in 2009, have been a little slow in the making. Generally speaking though, amenities in Maseru are good. The mall for example boasts a number of South African chains such as Mr Price and Woolworths, as well as a cinema complex and a number of restaurants.
Maseru is relatively close to some interesting locations. The Katse Dam, Africa's second largest dam, and important part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which supplies water to South Africa, is nearby the city, as is the infamous Sani Pass, a narrow, winding mountain pass which requires a 4x4 and skilled driving. It provides excellent views though and the highest pub in Africa, which is balanced at the top, is a novel place for beer and pub meal. Lesotho's only ski resort, Afri-Ski is also quite close.
Maseru lies at an altitude of 1600 metres above sea level and experiences a subtropical highland climate. The warm, wet sunny days of summer mean that you should pack for rain and moderate temperatures when stopping off at Maseru accommodation, while your winter packing list should take into account the chilly, dry weather of winter.
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