Magazine article Geographical
How Did Lesotho Come to Be a Country within a Country?
P King, Shrewsbury
ANSWER: The mountainous country of Lesotho lies within South Africa and is about the size of Belgium. It's one of three states in the world that are completely encircled by another. (The others are San Marino and Vatican City.)
Lesotho maintained its independence from its much larger neighbour thanks to its tribes' ability to withstand the expansion of the Zulu nation and an accident of colonial history. It was incursions by Zulus during the early 19th century that led to local king Moshoeshoe bringing the region's tribes together as the Basotho people. Their organisation then helped them to resist invasion by the Boers as they pressed claims to southern Africa.
Ultimately, Moshoeshoe decided to seek protection by going to the British. This move almost landed Lesotho in the hands of South Africa, as the British signed over control of the area, then known as Basutoland, to the Cape Colony. …