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Lesotho, See : Flags, Maps

Lesotho (Africa)

Introduction ::Lesotho


Basutoland, by Minnie Martin

Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. The Basuto National Party ruled for the first two decades. King MOSHOESHOE was exiled in 1990, but returned to Lesotho in 1992 and was reinstated in 1995. Constitutional government was restored in 1993 after seven years of military rule. In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody intervention by South African and Botswana military forces under the aegis of the Southern African Development Community. Subsequent constitutional reforms restored relative political stability. Peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002, but the National Assembly elections of February 2007 were hotly contested and aggrieved parties continue to dispute how the electoral law was applied to award proportional seats in the Assembly.

Geography ::Lesotho

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Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa

Geographic coordinates:
29 30 S, 28 30 E

Map references:



total: 30,355 sq km country comparison to the world: 141 land: 30,355 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries:

total: 909 km

border countries: South Africa 909 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers


mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m

highest point: Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m

Natural resources:

water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone

Land use:

arable land: 10.87%

permanent crops: 0.13%

other: 89% (2005)

Irrigated land:

30 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

5.2 cu km (1987)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 0.05 cu km/yr (40%/40%/20%)

per capita: 28 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards:

periodic droughts

Environment - current issues:

population pressure forcing settlement in marginal areas results in overgrazing, severe soil erosion, and soil exhaustion; desertification; Highlands Water Project controls, stores, and redirects water to South Africa

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

landlocked, completely surrounded by South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 m above sea level

People ::Lesotho


1,919,552 country comparison to the world: 146 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 34.8% (male 373,159/female 368,271)

15-64 years: 60.2% (male 629,346/female 654,054)

65 years and over: 5% (male 42,074/female 63,915) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 22.6 years

male: 22.6 years

female: 22.7 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.277% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 172

Birth rate:

27.17 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 50

Death rate:

15.71 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 8

Net migration rate:

-8.68 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 211


urban population: 25% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 3.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 56.42 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 40 male: 60.78 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 51.93 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 50.67 years country comparison to the world: 212 male: 50.58 years

female: 50.76 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 68

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

23.2% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 3

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

270,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 26

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

18,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 24


noun: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)

adjective: Basotho

Ethnic groups:

Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%,


Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%


Sesotho (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 84.8%

male: 74.5%

female: 94.5% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 10 years

male: 10 years

female: 10 years (2006)

Education expenditures:

12.4% of GDP (2008) country comparison to the world: 3

Government ::Lesotho

Country name:

conventional long form: Kingdom of Lesotho

conventional short form: Lesotho

local long form: Kingdom of Lesotho

local short form: Lesotho

former: Basutoland

Government type:

parliamentary constitutional monarchy


name: Maseru

geographic coordinates: 29 19 S, 27 29 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

10 districts; Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Mafeteng, Maseru, Mohale's Hoek, Mokhotlong, Qacha's Nek, Quthing, Thaba-Tseka


4 October 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 4 October (1966)


2 April 1993

Legal system:

based on English common law and Roman-Dutch law; judicial review of legislative acts in High Court and Court of Appeal; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: King LETSIE III (since 7 February 1996); note - King LETSIE III formerly occupied the throne from November 1990 to February 1995 while his father was in exile

head of government: Prime Minister Pakalitha MOSISILI (since 23 May 1998)

cabinet: Cabinet (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: according to the constitution, the leader of the majority party in the Assembly automatically becomes prime minister; the monarchy is hereditary, but, under the terms of the constitution that came into effect after the March 1993 election, the monarch is a "living symbol of national unity" with no executive or legislative powers; under traditional law the college of chiefs has the power to depose the monarch, determine who is next in the line of succession, or who shall serve as regent in the event that the successor is not of mature age

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (33 members - 22 principal chiefs and 11 other members appointed by the ruling party) and the Assembly (120 seats, 80 by popular vote and 40 by proportional vote; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

elections: last held on 17 February 2007 (next to be held in 2012)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LCD 61, NIP 21, ABC 17, LWP 10, ACP 4, BNP 3, other 4

Judicial branch:

High Court (chief justice appointed by the monarch acting on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal; Magistrate Courts; customary or traditional court

Political parties and leaders:

Alliance of Congress Parties or ACP (including the Lesotho People's
Congress or LCP [Kelebone MAOPE], the Basotholand African Congress
or BAC [Khauhelo RALITAPOLE], and a faction of the Basotho Congress
Party or BCP [Ntsukunyane MPHANYA]); All Basotho Convention or ABC
[Thomas THABANE]; Basotho Batho Democratic Party or BBDP; Basotho
Congress Party or BCP; Basotho Democratic National Party or BDNP
[Thabang NYEOE]; Basotho National Party or BNP [Maj. Gen. Justin
Metsing LEKHANYA]; Basotholand African National Congress or BANC;
Christian Democratic Party or CDP [Enerst RAMOKOENA]; Lesotho
Congress for Democracy or LCD [Pakalitha MOSISILI] (the governing
party); Lesotho Workers Party or LWP [Macaefa BILLY]; National
Independent Party or NIP [Anthony MANYELI]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Media Institute of Southern Africa, Lesotho chapter [Thabang
MATJAMA] (pushes for media freedom)

International organization participation:

(correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD,

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador David Mohlomi RANTEKOA

chancery: 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 797-5533 through 5536
FAX: [1] (202) 234-6815

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Robert NOLAN

embassy: 254 Kingsway, Maseru West (Consular Section)

mailing address: P. O. Box 333, Maseru 100, Lesotho

telephone: [266] 22 312666
FAX: [266] 22 310116

Flag description:

three horizontal stripes of blue (top), white, and green in the proportions of 3:4:3; the colors represent rain, peace, and prosperity respectively; centered in the white stripe is a black Basotho hat representing the indigenous people; the flag was unfurled in October 2006 to celebrate 40 years of independence

National anthem:

name: "Lesotho fatse la bo ntat'a rona" (Lesotho, Land of Our Fathers)

lyrics/music: Francois COILLARD/Ferdinand-Samuel LAUR

note: adopted 1967; the anthem's music derives from an 1823 Swiss songbook

Economy ::Lesotho

Economy - overview:

Small, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho relies on remittances from miners employed in South Africa, customs duties from the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), and export revenue for the majority of government revenue. However, the government has recently strengthened its tax system to reduce dependency on customs duties. Completion of a major hydropower facility in January 1998 permitted the sale of water to South Africa and generated royalties for Lesotho. Lesotho produces about 90% of its own electrical power needs. As the number of mineworkers has declined steadily over the past several years, a small manufacturing base has developed based on farm products that support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries, as well as an apparel-assembly sector. Despite Lesotho's market-based economy being heavily tied to its neighbor South Africa, the US is an important trade partner because of the export sector's heavy dependence on apparel exports. Exports have grown significantly because of the trade benefits contained in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. The economy is still primarily based on subsistence agriculture, especially livestock, although drought has decreased agricultural activity. The extreme inequality in the distribution of income remains a major drawback. Lesotho has signed an Interim Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF. In July 2007, Lesotho signed a Millennium Challenge Account Compact with the US worth $362.5 million. Economic growth dropped in 2009, due mainly to the effects of the global economic crisis as demand for the country's exports declined and SACU revenue fell precipitously when South Africa - the primary contributor to the SACU revenue pool - went into recession, but growth returned to 3.5% in 2010.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$3.31 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 174 $3.198 billion (2009 est.)

$3.148 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$1.799 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.5% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 97 1.6% (2009 est.)

3.9% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,700 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 197 $1,700 (2009 est.)

$1,600 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 7.1%

industry: 34.6%

services: 58.2% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

854,600 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 145

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 86% of resident population engaged in subsistence agriculture; roughly 35% of the active male wage earners work in South Africa

industry and services: 14% (2002 est.)

Unemployment rate:

45% (2002) country comparison to the world: 189

Population below poverty line:

49% (1999)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1%

highest 10%: 39.4% (2003)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

63.2 (1995) country comparison to the world: 3 56 (1986-87)

Investment (gross fixed):

21.9% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 68

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

6.1% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 164 7.2% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

10.66% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 24 14.05% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

13% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 39 16.19% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$653.3 million (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 149 $509.5 million (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$1.057 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 162 $876 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$177.7 million (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 176 $147.3 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Agriculture - products:

corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley; livestock


food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

3% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 111

Electricity - production:

502 million kWh country comparison to the world: 159 note: electricity supplied by South Africa (2007 est.)

Electricity - consumption:

516.9 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 160

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

50 million kWh; note - electricity supplied by South Africa (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 154

Oil - consumption:

2,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 187

Oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 185

Oil - imports:

1,553 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 180

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 159

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 165

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 120

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 162

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 164

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 154

Current account balance:

-$125 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 79 $194 million (2009 est.)


$985 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 152 $821 million (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

manufactures 75% (clothing, footwear, road vehicles), wool and mohair, food and live animals

Exports - partners:

US 58.9%, Belgium 37%, Madagascar 1.2% (2008)


$1.766 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 155 $1.572 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

food; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products

Imports - partners:

China 26.3%, Taiwan 20.1%, Hong Kong 16.4%, South Korea 14.1%, India 9.2% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$893 million (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 111 $988 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$647 million (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 157 $671 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:

maloti (LSL) per US dollar - 7.9 (2010), 8.4737 (2009), 7.75 (2008), 7.25 (2007), 6.85 (2006)

Communications ::Lesotho

Telephones - main lines in use:

40,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 168

Telephones - mobile cellular:

661,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 153

Telephone system:

general assessment: rudimentary system consisting of a modest number of landlines, a small microwave radio relay system, and a small radiotelephone communication system; mobile-cellular telephone system is expanding

domestic: privatized in 2001, Telecom Lesotho was tasked with providing an additional 50,000 fixed-line connections within five years, a target not met; mobile-cellular service dominates the market and is expanding with a subscribership exceeding 30 per 100 persons in 2009; rural services are scant

international: country code - 266; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)

Broadcast media:

1 state-owned TV station and 2 state-owned radio stations; government controls most private broadcast media; satellite TV subscription service is available; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are obtainable (2008)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

632 (2010) country comparison to the world: 175

Internet users:

76,800 (2009) country comparison to the world: 167

Transportation ::Lesotho


26 (2010) country comparison to the world: 128

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 3

over 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 23

914 to 1,523 m: 5

under 914 m: 18 (2010)


total: 7,091 km country comparison to the world: 147 paved: 1,404 km

unpaved: 5,687 km (2003)

Military ::Lesotho

Military branches:

Lesotho Defense Force (LDF): Army (includes Air Wing) (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

18-24 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; women serve as commissioned officers (2009)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 469,509

females age 16-49: 505,707 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 267,825

females age 16-49: 273,348 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 19,435

female: 20,400 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

2.6% of GDP (2006) country comparison to the world: 56

Military - note:

Lesotho's declared policy is maintenance of its independent sovereignty and preservation of internal security; in practice, external security is guaranteed by South Africa; restructuring of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) and Ministry of Defense and Public Service over the past five years has focused on subordinating the defense apparatus to civilian control and restoring the LDF's cohesion; the restructuring has considerably improved capabilities and professionalism, but the LDF is disproportionately large for a small, poor country; the government has outlined a reduction to a planned 1,500-man strength, but these plans have met with vociferous resistance from the political opposition and from inside the LDF (2008)

Transnational Issues ::Lesotho

Disputes - international:



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