STS056-151-253 Drakensberg Range, Lesotho April 1993
This low-oblique, northwest-looking photograph shows the entire landlocked country of Lesotho, which is completely surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho consists mainly of a high mountainous plateau, with the Drakensberg Range and its steep escarpment to the east forming the east and southeast border; along the western border, the elevation gradually becomes lower as the landscape grades into a lower belt of foothills and lowlands. The Orange River (recognizable by its serpentine pattern almost in the center of the photograph) originates in the basaltic lava in the eastern third of Lesotho and exits the country through the sandstone rocks south of Mohale's Hoek. The highest mountain peak in southern Africa, Thabana Ntlenyana at 11 425 feet (3481 meters), is near the easternmost edge of Lesotho in the Drakensberg Range. The northeast-southwest-trending Maloti Mountains, in northwestern Lesotho, have several peaks that exceed 10 000 feet (3048 meters). The lighter colored strip of land northwest of the Maloti Mountains is the severely eroded and overgrazed lowland area of Lesotho. Although only one-eight of the land is suitable for farming because of steep slopes and thin soils, the vast majority of residents is engaged in agriculture. Toward the northwest lies part of South Africa's Orange Free State, dotted with many highly reflective salt pans or dry lakebeds.
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