Maseru (măzˈərō) [key], city (1996 pop. 137,837), capital of the Kingdom of Lesotho, on the Caledon River, near the border with the Republic of South Africa. It is Lesotho's only sizable city and its administrative center. A trade and transportation hub, it lies on Lesotho's main road and is linked with South Africa's rail network. An international airport is nearby. The city's few manufactures include candles and carpets. Maseru was a small trading town when it was made the capital of the Basuto people by Moshoeshoe I, their paramount chief, in 1869 (see Lesotho). It was the capital of the British Basutoland protectorate from 1869 to 1871 and from 1884 to 1966, when Lesotho achieved independence. The National Univ. of Lesotho is nearby.