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Kingdom of Lesotho

The Kingdom of Lesotho (Muso oa Lesotho) is a landlocked nation that is completely surrounded by South Africa. The region was populated mostly by migrating Sotho-Tswana-speaking people between the 4th and 11th centuries CE. Originally known as Basutoland, the region emerged as a unified polity under the reign of Moshoeshoe I in 1822. In order to protect his kingdom from encroaching Boers claiming land rights in the late 1930s, Moshoeshoe signed a treaty with the government of Great Britain, but the disputes re-emerged, inciting the Free State-Basuto Wars between 1865 and 1868. In the aftermath, Basutoland became a British protectorate and the Boer Free State acquired large tracts of land that were once part of the tribal territory. Basutoland gained its independence from Britain and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966.

In the 1970s, members of the Basotho National Party (BNP) who had lost power in Parliament formed the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA), which was trained in Libya. A largely ineffective guerilla campaign was waged against the government into the early 1980s. In 1986, a military coup d'etat deposed the president and handed power to King Moshoeshoe II, hitherto only a ceremonial monarch. His son was installed as King Letsie III one year later when he went into exile. The nation returned to a democratically elected goverment in 1993, but was again overthrown in another coup led by Letsie in August the following year and Moshoeshoe reinstated as head of state.

In 1998, tensions rose over a rift in the ruling Basotho Congress Party (BCP), sparking protests and ultimately leading to the involvement of troops from both the Botswana Defence Force and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Order was finally restored, but not before a number of Basotho and South Africans had died.

Formed in 1978, the Lesotho Defence Force consists of the ground forces and the Air Wing.

Camouflage of Lesotho

  • The Defence Force has worn variations of British DPM since the 1980s. An early version, seen below, was imported from Britain.


  • Another DPM pattern from the 1980s is seen here, apprently sourced in South Africa from a commercial manufacturer. This pattern is very similar to that worn by Botswana.


  • Later versions of the pattern feature much brighter colors and were also produced in the Republic of South Africa.