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A former British colony, The Kingdom of Lesotho became independent in 1966. It is landlocked and surrounded by South Africa; its population in 2015 was estimated to be only about 2 million. The head of state is King Letsie III, a name that means “land of the people speaking Sesotho,” but English is almost as common as Sesotho. Nicknames include “Kingdom in the Sky” and “Mountain Kingdom.”

From north to south range the Maluti (also spelled Maloti) Mountains, spurs of the Drakensberg range. The Drakensberg and Maluti are characterized by sheer walls, giving the mountain people safety from outsiders. Thus, the Basotho, friendly though they be, are often situated in isolated villages. All Lesotho is 1,000 meters (3,281 ft) above sea level. Although the sun shines ...

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