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A hut and surrounding hills, Malealea

Although shunted to and from British and Boer control for almost 200 years, Lesotho's path to self-rule was comparatively smooth. Landlocked by South Africa, but distanced from it by huge mountain ranges, Lesotho is an often-surprising combination of rapidly-developing modernity and ancient culture.

It has managed largely to avoid many of the recent wars, racist policies and political instability that has plagued most of the African continent. Most travellers come to Lesotho as a side-trip following time spent in South Africa, and find it a real relief to escape post-apartheid tensions.

Although, like most of Africa, Lesotho is a struggling Third World nation, it has built for itself a reputation for dependable tourism. Public transport and organised tours and treks are quite reliable, and the locals are always willing to help. Although there are still internal political manoeuvrings, the instability looks unlikely to have any adverse or violent effects in the future.

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