Lesotho profile - Timeline

A chronology of key events:

1820s - Basutoland founded by Moshoeshoe, who unites various groups to repel challenges from Zulus.

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Image caption Conditions are tough for farmers in Lesotho, who have few resources

1834 - Territorial encroachment by Boer trekkers starts decades of conflict.

1860s - Becomes a British protectorate.

1871 - Annexed to the Cape Colony without people's consent.

1884 - Becomes a British colony after revolt against Cape Colonial rule. Paramount chiefs retain large degree of autonomy.

1939-45 - World War II, with 20,000 Sotho serving in the British forces.

1950s - Political parties emerge, press for independence.


1966 - Independence as Kingdom of Lesotho, with Moshoeshoe II as king and Chief Leabua Jonathan (Basotho National Party) as prime minister.

1970 - Oppostion Basutoland Congress Party leads in polls but Chief Jonathan suspends constitution, sends king into temporary exile.

1986 - South Africa blocks borders, demanding expulsion of anti-apartheid activists. Major-General Justin Lekhanya replaces Chief Jonathan in coup.

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Image caption King Moshoeshoe II, pictured in 1995

1990 - King Moshoeshoe II goes into exile. His son is sworn in as Letsie III.

1991 - Lekhanya forced out by Colonel Elias Tutsoane Ramaema, who lifts ban on political activity.

1993 - Basutoland Congress Party comes to power in elections.

1994 - Fighting among rival army factions.

King Letsie III restored

1995 - Moshoeshoe II restored to throne, but dies in a car crash. Letsie III restored as king.

1997 - Basutoland Congress Party dismisses Ntsu Mokhehle as leader. He forms the Lesotho Congress of Democrats (LCD).

1998 - LCD wins general elections, Pakalitha Mosisili becomes prime minister. Opposition stages protests against results. Rioting breaks out. At government's urging the South African Development Community (SADC) sends military force to help restore order.

Multiparty Interim Political Authority is established to review the electoral process and organise next elections.

1999 May - Last of South African and Botswanan troops sent to quell 1998 unrest withdraw.

2000 February - Tens of thousands of people and heads of state attend King Letsie III's marriage to Karabo Montsoeneng at national sports stadium in Maseru.

2002 May - Masupha Sole, former head of Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, found guilty of accepting bribes from foreign construction companies in return for business on Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which supplies water to South Africa.

2002 May - Ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) wins parliamentary elections, held under new system which gives smaller parties voice in parliament. Poll endorsed by international observers but rejected by opposition as fraudulent.

Mosisili's second term

2002 June - Prime Minister Mosisili is sworn-in for a second five-year term.

2004 February - Prime Minister Mosisili declares state of emergency, appeals for food aid. Aid officials say hundreds of thousands face shortages after three-year struggle against drought.

2004 March - Official opening of first phase of multi-billion-dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which supplies water to South Africa.

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Image caption Diamonds and water are Lesotho's main export earners. This stone was cut from 'Lesotho Promise', the world's 15th largest diamond

2005 April - First local elections since independence: Voters choose representatives for 129 local councils. Opposition parties boycott the vote and allege a lack of preparation.

2005 November - Lesotho launches programme to offer HIV tests to all citizens.

2006 October - Lesotho marks 40 years of independence from Britain with a new flag.

Former communications minister Thomas Thabane and 17 other MPs leave the ruling LCD to form the opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC).

Early elections

2006 November - Dutch aid worker shot dead at house of Trade Minister Minister Mpho Malie, who is thought to have been the intended target. The attack is similar to one which injured Foreign Minister Monyane Moleleki and another which killed MP Bereng Sekhonyana earlier in the year.

2007 February - Ruling LCD wins early parliamentary elections, taking 61 of 80 constituencies; leader of the opposition ABC challenges the outcome.

2007 March - General strike following opposition call for action in protest over allocation of parliamentary seats.

2007 July - State of emergency declared as Lesotho experiences its most severe drought in 30 years.

2007 October - Five charged with high treason for their alleged role in attacks on the homes of the opposition leader and cabinet ministers.

2009 April - Premier Mosisili survives an apparent assassination attempt.

2011 April - Government and opposition announce deal over allocation of parliamentary seats at the 2012 elections, aimed at easing a dispute over the 2007 vote.

Seven suspected mercenaries charged in connection with 2009 attempt to kill Prime Minister Mosisili.

2012 May - Thomas Thabane becomes prime minister following elections.

2012 September - Lesotho facing one of its worst food crises in living memory, according to World Food Programme.

2014 August - Prime Minister Thabane flees to South Africa, accusing the military of trying to overthrow him.

2015 February - Pakalitha Mosisili becomes prime minister at the head of a coalition formed after early elections.

2017 March - Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili loses a parliamentary vote of no-confidence after several of his governing coalition defect to the opposition. A snap election - the second in three years - is due within three months.