Map of BasutolandFlag of Basutoland

















The mountainous and largely arid land that came to be Basutoland was populated by bushmen until the end of the 16th century. From then Bantu-speaking tribes began to migrate into the area, gradually forming various groups including the Basotho. The Basotho became the major group in the area as peoples routed by the Zulu (from 1816) fled there.


From around 1820, a local chief, Moshoeshoe, consolidated the scattered people to resist invaders and became King Moshoeshoe I in the 1830s. He established a fortress capital in 1824 and successfully resisted a Zulu invasion in 1831.


During Moshoeshoe's reign there were a series of clashes with the Boers of the Orange Free State, the British and with other native tribes. Despite a certain amount of success in battle and Moshoeshoe's skillful diplomacy the kingdom lost considerable territory. A treaty had been signed with the Boer of Griqualand in 1843 and an agreement made with the British in 1853 following a minor war. However, the disputes with the Boer over land were revived in 1858 and more seriously in 1865. The Boer had a number of military successes, killing possibly 1500 Basotho soldiers, and annexed an expanse of arable land which they were able to retain following a treaty at Thaba Bosiu. In order to protect his people, Moshoeshoe appealed to the British for assistance, and in March 1868 the land was placed under British protection and the Boer were ordered to leave. A treaty was signed at Aliwal in 1869 between the British and the Boer defining the boundaries of the protectorate, the arable land west of the Caledon River remained in Boer hands and is referred to as the Lost or Conquered Territory. Moshoeshoe died in 1870.


In 1871 the protectorate was annexed to Cape Colony. The Basotho resisted the British and in 1879 a southern chief, Moirosi, rose in revolt. The rising was crushed and Moirosi was killed in the fighting. The Basotho then began to fight amongst themselves over the division of Moirosi's lands. The British extended the Cape Peace Preservation Act of 1878 to cover Basutoland and attempted to disarm the natives. Much of the colony rose in revolt in the Gun War (1880-1881), incurring significant casualties upon colonial British forces sent to subdue it. An 1881 peace treaty failed to quell sporadic fighting.


Cape Town's inability to control the territory led to its return to crown control in 1884 as the Territory of Basutoland. The colony was ruled by the British Resident Commissioner, who worked through the pitso (or pilso, national assembly) of hereditary native chiefs under one paramount chief. The first paramount chief was Lerothodi, the son of Moshoeshoe. During the Boer War the colony was neutral towards both forces.


When the Union of South Africa was founded in 1910 the colony was still controlled by the British and moves were made to transfer it to the Union. However the people of Basutoland opposed this and when the South African Nationalist party put its racist policies into place the possibility of annexation was halted. In 1959, a new constitution gave Basutoland its first elected legislature. This was followed in April 1965 with general legislative elections.


Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966.



Captial:                      Maseru

Government:              British protectorate

Area:                         30.355 km²

Population:                 310.000 (1901), 960.000 (1966)

Currency:                   Pound (20 shillings, 1 shilling = 12 pence), from 1961 Rand (100 cents)




For more stamps see:







Basutoland in Wikipedia.

Flag of the Resident Commissioner of Basutoland in Flags of the World.




Stamp catalogue


UPU 75th anniversary

date:                  10 October 1949

designer:            -

printer:               Waterlow & Sons, London (1 and 4), Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co., New Malden (2 and 3)

perforated:         13½:14 (1 and 4), 11:11½ (2 and 3)


1     1½ d            Hermes, globe, letter, airplane, boat, train, text "UNIVERSAL / POSTAL UNION / 1874 1949"


                          (cat. Michel 41/SG 38/Yvert 41)


Basutoland - stamp as described above


2     3 d               hemispheres, airplane, steamer, text "1874 / UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION / 1949"

                          deep blue

                          (cat. Michel 42/SG 39/Yvert 42)


Basutoland - stamp as described above


3     6 d               Hermes scattering letters over globe, text "UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION / 1874 / 1949"


                          (cat. Michel 43/SG 40/Yvert 43)


Basutoland - stamp as described above


4     1/-              UPU monument, Berne, text "UNIVERSAL / POSTAL / UNION / 1874 / 1949" and "UNION

                          POSTALE UNIVERSELLE"


                          (cat. Michel 44/SG 41/Yvert 44)


Basutoland - stamp as described above



Freedom from Hunger Campaign

date:                  4 June 1963

designer:            Mchael Goaman

printer:               Harrison & Sons, London

perforated:         14¼:14½


5     12½ cts        collection of 'protein foods', text "FREEDOM FROM HUNGER"

                          reddish violet

                          (cat. Michel 83/SG 80/Yvert 83)


Basutoland - stamp as described above



ITU Centenary

date:                  17 May 1965

designer:            Michael Goaman

printer:               Johan Enschede en Zonen, Haarlem

perforated:         11:11½


6     1 c               globe and flash, text on telex tape "INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION /

                          + CENTENARY + 1865 + 1965"

                          orange-red, bright purple

                          (cat. Michel 95/SG 98/Yvert 95)


Basutoland - stamp as described above


7     20 c             globe and flash, text on telex tape "INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION /

                          + CENTENARY + 1865 + 1965"

                          light blue, orange-brown

                          (cat. Michel 96/SG 99/Yvert 96)


Basutoland - stamp as described above



International Co-operation Year

date:                  25 October 1965

designer:            Victor Whiteley

printer:               Harrison & Sons, London

perforated:         14½


8     ½ c              ICY emblem, text "1965 / INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION YEAR"

                          reddish purple, turquoise green

                          (cat. Michel 97/SG 100/Yvert 97)


Basutoland - stamp as described above


9     12½ c          ICY emblem, text "1965 / INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION YEAR"

                          deep bluish green, lavender

                          (cat. Michel 98/SG 101/Yvert 98)


Basutoland - stamp as described above









Up - Home



last revised: 22 September 2008