From the tableland north of the Maluti several isolated hills rise, the most noted being the almost inaccessible Thaba Bosigo - the rallying place of the Basuto in many of their wars.
Epidemics of smallpox and typhoid occur; and leprosy, imported from the Orange River and Cape Colonies, has taken firm hold on the Basuto, of whom about 9r per too() are sufferers from this disease.
The great bulk of the people are Basuto, but there are some thousands of Barolong and other Kaffirs.
The Basuto proper are a branch of the Bechuana family of Bantu-Negroids.
The Basuto ponies, said to be descended from Shetland ponies which, imported to the Cape in 1840, strayed into the mountains, are short-legged, strong-bodied, sure-footed, and noted for their hardiness.
Nearly every Basuto is an agriculturist; there are no manufactories, and the minerals, in accordance with the desire of the people, are not worked.
Some 60,000 Basuto (annual average) find employment outside the Territory, more than half of whom seek farm and domestic service.
Of Maseru, the right bank of the Caledon, and affords a ready means of transport for the cereals raised on the left or Basuto side of the river.
For administrative purposes the Territory is divided into the seven districts of Maseru, Leribe, Mohales Hoek, Berea, Mafeteng, Quthing and Qacha's Nek, each of which is subdivided into wards presided over by Basuto chiefs.
A large proportion of the people can read and write Sesuto (as the Basuto language is called) and English, and speak Dutch, whilst a considerable number also receive higher education.
Many Basuto at the public examinations take higher honours than competitors of European descent.
Many Basuto profess Christianity and have adopted European clothing.
About 1800 the country was occupied by various tribes of Bechuana, such as Batau, Basuto, Baputi, who then possessed the greater part of what is now Orange River Colony.
At this period a young man named Moshesh (born about 1790), who was of the family of Monaheng and already noted as hunter and warrior, gathered round him the remnants of several broken clans, out of which he welded the existing Basuto nation.
The Basuto acquired an unenviable notoriety as a race of bold cattle lifters and raiders, and the emigrant Boers found them extremely troublesome neighbours.
At the same time, if the Basuto were eager for cattle, the Boers were eager for land; and their encroachments on the territories of the Basuto led to a proclamation in 1842 from Sir George Napier, the then governor of Cape Colony, forbidding further encroachments on Basutoland.
To the quarrels between Basuto and Boers were added interminable disputes between the Basuto and other Bechuana tribes, which continued unabated after the proclamation of British sovereignty over the Orange river regions by Sir Harry Smith in 1848.
Warden led against the Basuto a commando composed of British soldiers, farmers and a native contingent.
This commando was defeated at Viervoet, near Thaba Nchu, by the Basuto, who thereafter raided and plundered the natives opposed to them and the farmers who had helped the British.
General Cathcart accepted the offer of Moshesh and peace was proclaimed, the Basuto power being unbroken.
The Boers proved more successful than they had been in the past, and occupied several of the Basuto strongholds.
They also annexed a certain fertile portion of Basuto territory, and finally terminated the strife by a treaty at Thaba Bosigo, by which Moshesh gave up the tract of territory taken by the Boers and professed himself a subject of the Free State.
Seeing that the struggle against the Boers was hopeless, no fewer than 2000 Basuto warriors having been killed, Moshesh again appealed for protection to the British authorities, saying: "Let me and my people rest and live under the large folds of the flag of England before I am no more."
The turbulent Basuto warriors did not remain quiet for any length of time, and in 1879 Moirosi, a chief residing in the southern portion of Basutoland, openly repudiated colonial rule.
Immediately after the war, strife occurred among the Basuto themselves over the question of the partition of Moirosi's territory, which had been decided on as one of the results of the war.
Desultory warfare was carried on between the colonial troops and the Basuto until 1881, when the intervention of the high commissioner, Sir Hercules Robinson (afterward Lord Rosmead), was asked for.
The subjection of Basutoland to the control of the Cape government had by this time proved unsatisfactory, both to the Basuto and to Cape Colony.
The Cape government therefore offered no opposition to the appeal made by the Basuto themselves to the imperial government to take them over, and, moreover, Cape Colony undertook to pay towards the cost of administration an annual contribution of £18,000.
The period of warfare over, the Basuto turned their attention more and more to agricultural pursuits and also showed themselves very receptive of missionary influence.
The conversion of Basuto A land into a crown colony contributed alike to the Y pros perityof the Basuto,the security of the property of neighbouring colonists and a peaceful condition among the natives of South Africa generally.
In pursuance of the policy of encouraging the self-governing powers of the Basuto, a national council was instituted and held its first sitting in July 1903.
During the rebellion of the natives in Natal and Zululand in 1906 the Basuto remained perfectly quiet.
The natives belong to the Bantu negro race and are represented chiefly by Basuto, Bechuana, Bavenda, and Xosa-Zulu tribes.
After that event Basuto entered the country from the south, Bechuana from the west and Swazi, Zulu, Shangaan and other tribes from the east and south-east.
The Basuto, who number 410,020 and form 40% of the total population, are now found mostly in the central, northern and northeastern districts, forming in Lydenburg about 67%, and in Zoutpansberg about 50% of the inhabitants.
Next, numerically, to the Basuto and Bechuana peoples are the tribes known collectively as Transvaal Kaffirs, of whom there were 159,860 enumerated at the 1904 census.
Into these depopulated areas there was also a considerable immigration of Basuto, Bechuana and other Bantu tribes.
The Chaka dynasty was deposed, and the Zulu country portioned among eleven Zulu chiefs, John Dunn, 2 a white adventurer, and Hlubi, a Basuto chief who had done good service in the war.
When Cetywayo was restored Usibepu was left in possession of his territory, while Dunn's land and that of the Basuto chief (the country between the Tugela and the Umhlatuzi, i.e.
Of the Basuto border.
The town, named after the leader of the Boers in their war with the Basuto chief Moshesh in 1865, was founded in 1888.
Clans representing the southern Bakuena were welded together into one tribe in the 19th century, and are now known as Basuto (see Basutoland).
The Basuto were already a strong force when the first white settlers, Dutch farmers from the Cape, entered the country in 1824; the white element has since been reinforced by a considerable strain of British, particularly Scottish, blood.
The tribe most largely represented was the Basuto (130,213 persons), former owners of considerable tracts in the eastern part of the country, now known as " The Conquered Territory."
Moshesh, a Bechuana chief of high descent, had welded together a number of scattered and broken clans which had sought refuge in that mountainous region, and had formed of them the Basuto nation.
In October 1849 Moshesh was induced to sign a new arrangement considerably curtailing the boundaries of the Basuto reserve.
Distracted among themselves, with the formidable Basuto power on their southern and eastern flank, the troubles of the infant state were speedily added to by the action of the Transvaal Boers.
The raid into the Free State failed; the blackest incident in connexion with it was the attempt of the Pretorius and Kruger party to induce the Basuto to harass the Free State forces behind, while they were attacking them in front.
In 1829 the Paris Evangelical Society (whose agents have laboured chiefly in Basuto and Barotse lands) sent out their first missionaries, who were closely followed by the agents of other societies (see Mlsslons).
The Basuto and Kaffir tribes were giving trouble, and the 40,000 trained Zulu warriors under Cetywayo threatened the peace both of Natal and the Transvaal.