From 1827 to 1843, the United Kingdom established a base on the island to combat the slave trade, which was then moved to Sierra Leone upon agreement with Spain in 1843. In 1844, on restoration of Spanish sovereignty(Dell Latitude E4300 battery), it became known as the Territorios Españoles del Golfo de Guinea Ecuatorial. The mainland portion, Rio Muni, became a protectorate in 1885 and a colony in 1900. Conflicting claims to the mainland were settled by the Treaty of Paris in 1900, and periodically, the mainland territories were united administratively under Spanish rule. Between 1926 and 1959 they were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea(Dell Vostro 1310 battery).
In September 1968, Francisco Macías Nguema was elected first president of Equatorial Guinea, and independence was recognized on 12 October 1968. In July 1970, Nguema created a single-party state. Nguema’s reign of terror led to the death or exile of up to 1/3 of the country's population. Out of a population of 300,000, an estimated 80,000 had been killed. (Dell Vostro 1320 battery) The economy collapsed, and skilled citizens and foreigners left. Teodoro Obiang deposed Francisco Macías Nguema on 3 August 1979, in a bloody coup d'état.
In 2011 the government announced it was planning a new capital in the country, named Djibloho.
Main article: Politics of Equatorial Guinea
Map of Equatorial Guinea
The current president of Equatorial Guinea is Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The 1982 constitution of Equatorial Guinea(Dell Vostro 1510 battery), written following the 1979 deposition of dictator Francisco Macías Nguema and with help from the UN, gives the presidency extensive powers, including naming and dismissing members of the cabinet, making laws by decree, dissolving the Chamber of Representatives, negotiating and ratifying treaties and serving as commander in chief of the armed forces(Dell Vostro 1520 battery). The Prime Minister, Ignacio Milam Tang is appointed by the President and operates under powers designated by the President.
On Christmas 1975, Macías had 150 alleged coup plotters executed to the sound of a band playing Mary Hopkin's tune Those Were the Days in a national stadium. It is estimated that 100,000 people (approximately one-third of the population) were killed or fled into exile during Macías' reign. (Dell Vostro 2510 battery)
President Obiang overthrew previous dictator Francisco Macías Nguema on 3 August 1979 in a bloody coup d'état. Since August 1979 some 12 real and perceived unsuccessful coup attempts have occurred. The 'real' coup attempts were often perpetrated in an attempt by rival elites to seize the state's economic resources. (Dell Vostro 1014 battery)
Under President Obiang, the U.S. Agency for International Development entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, in April 2006, to establish a Social Development Fund in the country, implementing projects in the areas of health, education, women's affairs and the environment. (Dell Inspiron 1410 battery)
Since 2005, Military Professional Resources Inc., a U.S. based international private military company, has worked in Equatorial Guinea to train police forces in appropriate human rights practices. In February 2010, Equatorial Guinea signed a contract with the MPRI subsidiary of the US defense corporation, L3 Communications for coastal surveillance and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea(Dell Vostro 1014N battery).
Although President Obiang signed a national anti-torture decree in 2006 to ban all forms of abuse and improper treatment in Equatorial Guinea and commissioned the renovation and modernization of Black Beach prison in 2007 to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners, human rights abuses continue(Dell Vostro 1015 battery). Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among other non-governmental organizations have documented severe human rights abuses in prisons, including torture, beatings, unexplained deaths and illegal detention.
US President Obama and Obiang with their wives in 2009
Under President Obiang, the basic infrastructure of Equatorial Guinea has also improved. Asphalt now covers more than 80% of the national roads and ports and airports are being built across the entire country. (SONY PCG-5G2L battery) Progress of this increase in infrastructure was confirmed in October 2011 when a British parliamentary delegation and press entourage toured the country as guests of the president. However, despite all the new infrastructure there were very few of its citizens who seemed to have access to it, with reports of empty three lane highways and many empty buildings during the course of the tour according to a journalist who represented The Guardian newspaper who formed part of the press entourage. (SONY PCG-5G3L battery)
According to a March 2004 BBC profile, politics within the country are currently dominated by tensions between Obiang's son, Teodorin, and other close relatives with powerful positions in the security forces. The tension may be rooted in power shift arising from the dramatic increase in oil production which has occurred since 1997(SONY PCG-F305 battery).
A November 2004 report named Mark Thatcher as a financial backer of a 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt to topple Obiang, organized by Simon Mann. Various accounts also name the United Kingdom's MI6, the United States' CIA, and Spain as having been tacit supporters of the coup attempt. Nevertheless(SONY PCG-5J1L battery), the Amnesty International report released in June 2005 on the ensuing trial of those allegedly involved highlighted the prosecution's failure to produce conclusive evidence that a coup attempt had actually taken place.
Simon Mann was released from prison on 3 November 2009 for humanitarian reasons. The presidential decree pardoning Mann from prison cites concerns about his physical health and the need for him to receive ongoing care in his home country. (SONY PCG-5J2L battery)
President Obiang was re-elected to serve an additional term in 2009 in an election deemed by the African Union as “in line with electoral law”. The President reappointed Prime Minister Ignacio Milam Tang and installed a new government in Equatorial Guinea on 12 January 2010.
The new government is dedicated to strengthening the “cooperation and friendship” with the Barack Obama administration(SONY PCG-5K2L battery). During a meeting on the sidelines of the recent United Nations General Assembly, President Obiang urged President Obama to institute a U.S–Africa summit, to strengthen the cooperation between the United States and Africa.
Pre-independence Equatorial Guinea counted on cocoa production for hard currency earnings. On 1 January 1985, the country became the first non-Francophone African member of the franc zone, adopting the CFA as its currency(SONY PCG-5L1L battery). The national currency, the ekwele, was previously linked to the Spanish peseta.
The discovery of large oil reserves in 1996 and its subsequent exploitation have contributed to a dramatic increase in government revenue. As of 2004, Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its oil production has risen to 360,000 barrels per day (57,000 m3/d), up from 220,000 only two years earlier(SONY PCG-6S2L battery).
Forestry, farming, and fishing are also major components of GDP. Subsistence farming predominates. The deterioration of the rural economy under successive brutal regimes has diminished any potential for agriculture-led growth.
In July 2004, the United States Senate published an investigation into Riggs Bank, a Washington-based bank into which most of Equatorial Guinea's oil revenues were paid until recently, and which also banked for Chile's Augusto Pinochet(SONY PCG-6S3L battery). The Senate report, as to Equatorial Guinea, showed that at least $35 million were siphoned off by Obiang, his family and senior officials of his regime. The president has denied any wrongdoing. While Riggs Bank in February 2005 paid $9 million as restitution for its banking for Chile's Augusto Pinochet, no restitution was made with regard to Equatorial Guinea, as reported in detail in an Anti-Money Laundering Report from Inner City Press. (SONY PCG-6V1L battery)
Pesetas Ecuatoguineanas (1969)
Equatorial Guinea is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).
Equatorial Guinea tried to become validated as an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)–compliant country, working toward transparency in reporting of oil revenues and the prudent use of natural resource wealth(SONY PCG-6W1L battery). The country was one of 30 candidate countries and obtained candidate status 22 February 2008. It was then required to meet a number of obligations to do so, including committing to working with civil society and companies on EITI implementation, appointing a senior individual to lead on EITI implementation, and publishing a fully costed Work Plan with measurable targets(SONY PCG-7111L battery), a timetable for implementation and an assessment of capacity constraints. However, when Equatorial Guinea applied to extend the deadline for completing EITI validation, the EITI Board did not agree to grant Equatorial Guinea an extension.
According to the World Bank, Equatorial Guinea has the highest GNI (Gross National Income) per capita of any other Sub-Saharan country. It is 83 times larger than the GNI per capita of Burundi which is the poorest country. (SONY PCG-71511M battery)
Main article: Demographics of Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinean children of Bubi descent.
The majority of the people of Equatorial Guinea are of Bantu origin. The largest tribe, the Fang, is indigenous to the mainland, but substantial migration to Bioko Island has resulted in the Fang population exceeding that of the earlier Bantu inhabitants. The Fang constitute 80% of the population and comprise 67 clans(SONY PCG-6W3L battery). Those in the northern part of Rio Muni speak Fang-Ntumu, while those in the south speak Fang-Okah; the two dialects have differences but are mutually intelligible. Dialects of Fang are also spoken in parts of neighboring Cameroon (Bulu) and Gabon. These dialects, while still intelligible, are more distinct. The Bulu Fang of Cameroon were traditional rivals of Fang in Rio Muni(SONY PCG-7113L battery). The Bubi, who constitute 15% of the population, are indigenous to Bioko Island. The traditional demarcation line between Fang and beach tribes was the village of Niefang (limit of the Fang) inland from Bata.
In addition, there are coastal tribes, sometimes referred to as Ndowe or "Playeros" (Beach People in Spanish): Combes, Bujebas, Balengues, and Bengas on the mainland and small islands, and Fernandinos, a Krio community on Bioko Island(SONY PCG-7133L battery). Together, these groups compose 5% of the population. Some Europeans (largely of Spanish or Portuguese descent) – among them mixed with African ethnicity – also live in the nation. Most Spaniards left after independence. There is a growing number of foreigners from neighboring Cameroon, Nigeria, and Gabon. Equatorial Guinea received Asians and black Africans from other countries as workers on cocoa and coffee plantations(SONY PCG-7Z1L battery). Other black Africans came from Liberia, Angola, and Mozambique. Most of the Asian population is Chinese, with small numbers of Indians.
Equatorial Guinea also allowed many fortune-seeking European settlers of other nationalities, including British, French and Germans. There is also a group of Israelis, and Moroccans. After independence, thousands of Equatorial Guineans went to Spain(SONY PCG-7Z2L battery). Another 100,000 Equatorial Guineans went to Cameroon, Gabon, and Nigeria because of the dictatorship of Francisco Macías Nguema. Some Equatorial Guinean communities are also to be found in Latin America, the United States, Portugal, and France. Oil extraction has contributed to a doubling of the population in Malabo(SONY PCG-8Y1L battery).
The principal religion in Equatorial Guinea is Christianity which is the faith of 93% of the population. These are predominately Roman Catholic (87%) while a minority are Protestants (5%). Another 5% of the population follow indigenous beliefs and the final 2% comprises Muslims, Bahá'í Faith, and other beliefs. (SONY PCG-8Y2L battery)
The official languages are Spanish (for the local variety see Equatoguinean Spanish), French, and Portuguese. However, the government's official homepage states that: "Spanish is the official administrative language and that of education. French is the second official language and nearly all the ethnic groups speak the languages referred to as Bantu." (SONY PCG-8Z2L battery)
Indigenous languages include Fang, Bube, Benga, Pichinglis, Ndowe, Balengue, Bujeba, Bissio, Gumu, nearly extinct Baseke, and others, as well as Annobonese language (Fá d'Ambô) a Portuguese creole, and Fernando Poo Creole English. English and German are also studied as foreign languages(SONY PCG-8Z1L battery).
Aboriginal languages are recognized as integral parts of the "national culture" (Constitutional Law No. 1/1998 January 21). The great majority of Equatorial Guineans speak Spanish, especially those living in the capital, Malabo. Spanish has been an official language since 1844.
Some media reported that in October 2011, the Constitutional Law that amends article four of the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea was enacted by Chamber of People's Representatives(SONY PCG-7112L battery). This Constitutional Law established the third official language of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea – Portuguese (by that time only the Spanish and French had official status). This was in an effort by the government to improve its communications, trade, and bilateral relations with Portuguese-speaking countries. The adoption of Portuguese followed the announcement on 13 July 2007(SONY PCG-6W2L battery), by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of his government's decision for Portuguese to become Equatorial Guinea's third official language, in order to meet one of the requirements to apply for full membership in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), the other one being political reforms allowing for effective democracy and the respect for human rights(SONY PCG-5K1L battery). This upgrading from its current Associate Observer condition would result in Equatorial Guinea being able to access several professional and academic exchange programs and the facilitation of cross-border circulation of citizens. Its application for membership of the CPLP is currently being assessed by the organisations' members. According to draft of the Constitutional Law(SONY VGP-BPS13 battery): “This Constitutional Law will go into effect twenty days from its publication in the Official State Gazette”. In October 2011, the national parliament was discussing this law. So far no official confirmation of approving the decree by the Parliament nor published it in the Official State Gazette. Moreover, official Equatorial Guinean sources do not treat Portuguese as an official language yet. (SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery)
In February 2012, Equatorial Guinea's foreign minister signed an agreement with the IILP (Instituto Internacional da Língua Portuguesa) on the promotion of Portuguese in Equatorial Guinea. However, in July 2012 the CPLP again refused Equatorial Guinea full membership, less because of insufficient progress in the introduction of Portuguese, and primarily because of the constant violations of human rights in the country. (SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery)
Main articles: Culture of Equatorial Guinea and Music of Equatorial Guinea
In June 1984, the First Hispanic-African Cultural Congress was convened to explore the cultural identity of Equatorial Guinea. The congress constituted the center of integration and the marriage of the Hispanic culture with African cultures.
Under the regime of Francisco Macias, education had been significantly neglected with few children receiving any type of education. Under President Obiang, the illiteracy rate dropped from 73 percent to 13 percent(SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery) and the number of primary school students has risen from 65,000 in 1986 to more than 100,000 in 1994. Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14.
The Equatorial Guinea government has also partnered with Hess Corporation and The Academy for Educational Development (AED) to establish a $20 million education program through which primary school teachers participate in a training program to teach modern child development techniques. (SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery) There are now 51 Model Schools, one for every state. It is hoped the active pedagogy in the Model Schools will be a national reform.
In recent years, with change in economic/political climate and government social agendas, several cultural dispersion and literacy organizations are now located in the country, founded chiefly with the financial support of the Spanish government. The country has one university, the Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (UNGE) (SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery) with a campus in Malabo and a Faculty of Medicine located in Bata on the mainland. In 2009 the university produced the first 110 national doctors. The Bata Medical School is supported principally by the government of Cuba and staffed by Cuban medical educators and physicians, however, it is predicted that Equatorial Guinea will have enough national doctors in the country to be self-sufficient within the next five years. (SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery)
Main article: Health in Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea’s innovative malaria control programs have had a remarkable impact on malaria infection, disease, and mortality in the population. Their program consists of twice-yearly indoor residual spraying (IRS), the introduction of artemisinin combination treatment (ACTs), the use of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnant women (IPTp) and the introduction of very high coverage with long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets (LLINs) (SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery). The result of their efforts resulted in a reduction in all-cause under-five mortality from 152 to 55 deaths per 1,000 live births (down 64%); and the drop occurred rapidly and timed directly with the beginning of the program.
Main article: Transport in Equatorial Guinea
Every airline registered in the country appears on the list of air carriers prohibited in the European Union (EU) which means that they are banned for safety reasons from operating services of any kind within the EU. (SONY VGP-BPS21B battery)
Due to the large oil presence in the country, internationally recognised carriers fly to Malabo (Bioko). The carriers include:
There are only 3 airports in Equatorial Guinea. Malabo International Airport, Bata Airport, and the new Annobon Airport on the island of Annobon. Malabo International Airport is the only international airport in the country. It is very hard to travel around Equatorial Guinea by plane. It's more usual to use a bus, taxi, boat (to travel from one of the islands to Rio Muni), and car(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery).
Main article: Telecommunications in Equatorial Guinea
The principal means of communication within the country are three state-operated FM radio stations; there are also five shortwave radio stations. There are two newspapers and two magazines. Television Nacional, the television network, is state operated. The international TV programme RTVGE is available via satellites in Africa, Europa, and the Americas and worldwide via Internet. (SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery)
Most of the media companies practice heavy self-censorship, and are banned by law from criticising public figures. The state-owned media and the main private radio station are under the directorship of Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the president's son.
Landline telephone penetration is low, with only two lines available for every 100 persons. There is one GSM mobile telephone operator, with coverage of Malabo, Bata, and several mainland cities. (SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery) As of 2009, approximately forty percent of the population subscribed to mobile telephone services. The only telephone provider in Equatorial Guinea is Orange.
Equatorial Guinea has nine, As of 2009, Internet service providers, which serve more than 8,000 users.
Further information: Equatorial Guinea national football team and Equatorial Guinea women's national football team(SONY VGP-BPS13S battery)
Equatorial Guinea was chosen to co-host the 2012 African Cup of Nations in partnership with Gabon. The Equatorial Guinea won their first game against Libya 1-0 in group A. The country was also chosen to host the 2008 Women's African Football Championship, which they won. The Women's National Team qualified for the 2011 World Cup in Germany(SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery).
Equatorial Guinea is famous for the swimmers Eric Moussambani, nicknamed "Eric the Eel", and Paula Barila Bolopa, "Paula the Crawler", who had astoundingly slow times at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Frederick Forsyth's 1974 novel The Dogs of War is set in the fictional platinum-rich 'Republic of Zangaro', which is based on Equatorial Guinea. There is also a 1981 film adaptation of the book, with the same name(SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery)
Fernando Po (now Bioko) is featured prominently in the 1975 science fiction work The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. The island (and, in turn, the country) experience a series of coups in the story which lead the world to the verge of nuclear war. The story also hypothesizes that Fernando Po is the last remaining piece of the sunken continent of Atlantis(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery).
Most of the action in the American novelist Robin Cook's book, Chromosome 6, takes place at a primate research facility based in Equatorial Guinea due to the country's permissive laws. The book also discusses some of the geography, history, and peoples of the country.
Episode 2 of the British sitcom Yes Minister, "The Official Visit", takes place in the fictional developing country of Buranda in what is actually Equatorial Guinea(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery).
In the 2009 novel Limit by Frank Schätzing, which takes place in 2025, the country's history (and future history) plays a significant role in the plot.
The 2011 novel "The Informationist" by Taylor Stevens is a missing-person thriller that makes detailed use of Equatorial Guinea's melange of people, economics, and geography.
Malabo ( /məˈlɑːboʊ/) is the capital of Equatorial Guinea, located on the northern coast of Bioko Island (formerly Fernando Pó) on the rim of a sunken volcano. (SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery) With a fast growing population of 155,963 (2005) it is also the second largest city in the country, after Bata in Río Muni on the African mainland.
The city was first founded by the British in 1827, who leased the island from Spain during the colonial period. Named Port Clarence, it was used as a naval station in the effort to suppress the slave trade. Many newly freed slaves were also settled there, prior to the establishment of Liberia as a colony for freed slaves. While many of them later relocated to Sierra Leone(SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery), some of their descendants, called Fernandinos, can still be found in Malabo and the surrounding area, where they constitute a distinct ethnic group, speaking their own Afro-Portuguese pidgin dialect.
When the island reverted to complete Spanish control, Malabo was renamed Santa Isabel. It was chosen to replace the mainland city of Bata as the capital of the country in 1969, and was renamed Malabo in 1973 as part of President Francisco Macías Nguema's campaign to replace European place names with "authentic" African ones(SONY VGP-BPS14B battery).
Despite its location near the equator, Malabo features a tropical wet and dry climate. Malabo sees on average 1,800 mm of rain per year. The city has a pronounced, albeit short dry season from December through February. January is normally driest with just 5 mm (0.2 in) of rain falling on average. It also has a very lengthy wet season that covers the remaining nine months(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery). On average, the months hit hardest by the wet season are from September to October, with 500 millimetres (20 in) of rain falling between them.
Daytime temperatures do not vary at all day to day, and only vary a few degrees throughout the entire year. At night, the average low temperature is 21-22 degrees in every month of the year, apart from January when average low is 19 degrees) (SONY VGP-BPS22 battery). January has cooler nights and hotter days because it has clearer weather. Nonetheless, Malabo, with only 1,180 hours of sunshine per year, is one of the gloomiest capitals in the world and experiences much fog even when it is not raining.
Despite its status as the capital of Equatorial Guinea for several decades, Malabo's street network remains poorly developed. Malabo itself has few paved roads leading into it, and fewer than one hundred paved and developed streets(SONY VGP-BPS18 battery). Many of the street names reflect an African nationalist or anti-colonial theme, with names such as "Independence Avenue" or "Patrice Lumumba Road" being main roads. The few large roads not named for an African nationalist ideal or person are named for cities in Equatorial Guinea or other places or countries in Africa, as well as the road leading to the presidential palace(SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery). The palace and grounds consume a substantial part of the eastern side of Malabo, and are off-limits. The heart of the city is the colonial cathedral at Independence Place. Many buildings in the city from the Spanish colonial era are still standing.
The south of Malabo is bordered by the Rio Consul. Across this lies the hospital to the southeast. To the west is the recently renovated Malabo Airport. The coastal northern region of the city is pierced by headlands and bays(SONY VGP-BPS22A battery). The largest headland is the crescent-shaped Tip of African Unity behind the presidential palace. Encompassing the entire eastern side of Malabo Bay, it is almost as long as Malabo is tall. Malabo is part of a wider bay that represents most of the northern coast of Bioko; it stretches from Europe Point in the west (home to the airport), to barren lands in the east(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S battery).
Notable buildings in Malabo include Malabo Cathedral, Malabo Government Building and the Malabo Court Building. The city is served by Malabo International Airport, while ferries sail from its port to Douala and Bata. The city contains several notable hotels including Sofitel Malabo President Palace, Hotel Ureka, Hotel Bahia and Hotel Impala(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T battery).
EG LNG from the air
Malabo has been significantly affected by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo's growing co-operation with the oil industry. The country's production has reached 360,000 barrels per day (57,000 m3/d) as of 2004, an increase which led to a doubling of the city's population, but for the vast majority, very little of that wealth has been invested in development(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G battery).
Maseru is the capital of Lesotho. It is also the capital of the Maseru District. Located on the Caledon River, bordering South Africa, Maseru is Lesotho's only sizable city, with a population of approximately 227,880 (2006). 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(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ4000 battery). The name of the city is a Sesotho word meaning "place of the red sandstone".
Maseru was founded by the British as a small police camp in 1869, following the conclusion of the Free State-Basotho Wars when Basutoland became a British protectorate. Maseru is located at the edge of the "conquered territories" relinquished to the Orange Free State (now the Free State province of South Africa) (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ460E battery) as part of the peace terms. It was located 24 kilometres (15 mi) west of Basotho King Moshoeshoe I's stronghold of Thaba Bosiu, the previous de facto capital. A bustling market town soon grew around the area.
Maseru initially functioned as the state's administrative capital between 1869 and 1871, before administration of Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ440N battery). During their rule between 1871 and 1884, Basutoland was treated similarly to territories that had been forcefully annexed, much to the chagrin of the Basotho. This led to the Gun War in 1881 and the burning of many buildings in Maseru. In 1884, Basutoland was restored its status as a Crown colony, and Maseru was again made capital(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ440E battery). When Basutoland gained its independence and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966, Maseru remained the country's capital.
Prior to Lesotho's independence, Maseru had remained relatively small; it was contained within well-defined colonial boundaries and had little room for growth, while the British had little interest in developing the city(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ430E battery). After 1966 Maseru experienced rapid expansion: its area increased around sevenfold, from around 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi) to the current area of 138 square kilometres (53 sq mi), due to incorporation of nearby peri-urban villages to the city proper. The annual population growth rates remained around 7% for several decades, before tapering off to around 3.5% between 1986 and 1996. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ280E battery)
After the 1998 parliamentary elections in Lesotho led to suspicions of vote fraud and a military intervention by South Africa, much of the city was damaged by riots and pillaging.  The cost of repairing the damage done to the city was estimated at around two billion rand (350 million $US), and after nearly a decade, the effects of the riots could still be seen within the city. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ190 battery)
Panoramic view of Maseru in 2007
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). (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ150E battery)
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) (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11L battery). 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.
The latest (2006) census lists the city's population at 227,880, or around a tenth of the entire population of the country, and half of the total urban population. This includes 103,520 males and 124,360 females, or around 100 women for every 83 men. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11Z battery) The population of the city was at 28,000 by the 1966 census, and 110,000 by the 1986 census, demonstrating the early rapid expansion of the city after independence.
View from the main road south in Maseru
A railway line, built in 1905, bridges the Mohokare River to connect Maseru with Marseilles on South Africa's Bloemfontein–Bethlehem main line(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11M battery).
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. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18M battery) 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 International Airport is nearby, at Thoteng-ea-Moli, Mazenod. The National University of Lesotho is located in Roma, 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Maseru(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18 battery).
The commerce in the city is centered around 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. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ210CE battery)
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 then the people of the city have been working hard to undo the damage caused(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31S battery).
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. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31Z battery)
Up until 2004 Maseru had a growing textile industry supported by and invested in by Chinese manufactures. Since the expiration of the Multi Fibre Arrangement the textile industry in Lesotho has rather diminished . The city's manufactures once included candles, carpets and mohair products but these have been overshadowed by South African industry(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E battery).
Maseru at night—view to the south. The city center is to the right
Most of the traditional thatched-roof mud-brick houses, called rondavels, have been replaced with modern housing and office blocks which have a tint of traditional architecture. There have recently been some new buildings in the center of the city, particularly the building across LNDC center which now houses Good times cafe, a Vodacom shop, and offices and the new building of the Ministry of Health which was completed in late 2007(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31J battery).
Buildings destroyed in the 1998 political uprising have been rebuilt and have shops like Fruits and Veg City, Woolworths and Mr Price to name a few. The New Lehakoe National sports center, which is in between the central Bank of Lesotho and the colonial parliament building is equipped with tennis courts, swimming pools, conference centers, bars and gymnasiums(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M battery). In November 2009 Pioneer Mall opened, providing Maseru with a South African style shopping mall, with many stores, a four-screen cinema and restaurants. Further such malls are under construction in Maseru.
There are some colonial era buildings around the center of the city, most notably the Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Maseru, and the Anglican St. John's Church. Other sights include the Royal Palace, the Parliament building and the State House(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31B battery).
Basotho Hat Shop
Maseru has a total of six hotels, two of which, the Lesotho Sun and the Maseru Sun, have casinos. During the 1960s, prior to the relaxation of South Africa's gambling laws, the casinos were popular attractions among South African visitors, but the interest in them has since waned. The Basotho Hat shop at the city's entrance is a popular source for souvenirs. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ32 battery)
The main tourist attractions of Lesotho, Lancer's Gap, Sani Pass, Afri-Ski resort, Katse dam, Thaba Bosiu and the Maluti Mountains are located a short distance from Maseru. However, distances are deceiving in Lesotho as even a 120 km trip can take over 3 hours due to the rugged terrain.
Lesotho's national stadium, the multi-purpose Setsoto Stadium, is located in Maseru. It has a capacity of between 20,000 and 25,000 people(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21 battery). The stadium is mostly used for football matches and houses the Lesotho national football team, but also holds events in athletics.
12 out of 16 of the teams currently playing in the Lesotho Premier League reside in Maseru. As of 2008, 32 out of the 38 championships contested in the league have gone to Maseru-based teams. Most successful of these have been Matlama FC and the football team of the Royal Lesotho Defense Force, with eight championships each(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21S battery).