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Countries > Lesotho Lesotho Flag

Languages   2 languages are spoken in Lesotho. We have 69 products available for those languages.

Capital: Maseru
Population: 2,000,000
Click to Listen Play the National Anthem
Lesotho Map


Location: Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa

Geographic coordinates: 29 30 S, 28 30 E

Map references: Africa

total: 30,350 sq km
land: 30,350 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries:
total: 909 km
border countries : South Africa 909 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

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

Terrain: mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m
highest point : Mount Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m

Natural resources: water, agricultural and grazing land, some diamonds and other minerals

Land use:
arable land: 11%
permanent crops : NA%
permanent pastures: 66%
forests and woodland : NA%
other: 23% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: 10 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: periodic droughts

Environment - current issues: population pressure forcing settlement in marginal areas results in overgrazing, severe soil erosion, soil exhaustion; desertification; Highlands Water Project will control, store, and redirect water to South Africa

Environment - international agreements:
party to : Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping

Geography - note: landlocked; surrounded by South Africa


Population: 2,207,954 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 39% (male 433,229; female 427,926)
15-64 years : 56.3% (male 600,476; female 642,538)
65 years and over: 4.7% (male 43,691; female 60,094) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.33% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 30.72 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 16.81 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years:1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years : 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over:0.73 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 82.57 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 47 years
male: 46.3 years
female: 47.8 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.01 children born/woman (2002 est.)

noun: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)
adjective: Basotho

Ethnic groups: Sotho 99.7%, Europeans 1,600, Asians 800

Religions: Christian 80%, rest indigenous beliefs

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

definition : age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83%
male : 72%
female:93% (1999 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Lesotho
conventional short form: Lesotho
former: Basutoland

Data code: LT

Government type: modified constitutional monarchy

National capital: Maseru

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

Independence: 4 October 1966 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day, 4 October (1966)

Constitution: 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; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 21 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
elections: none; the king is a hereditary monarch, but, under the terms of the constitution which came into effect after the March 1993 election, he has no executive or legislative powers; moreover, under traditional law the king can be elected or deposed by a majority vote of the College of Chiefs; following legislative elections, the leader of the party that wins the most seats usually becomes prime minister

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 direct popular vote and 40 by proportional vote; members elected by popular vote for five-year terms); note - number of seats in the Assembly rose from 80 to 120 in the May 2002 election
elections: last held NA May 2002 (next to be held NA May 2007
election results: percent of vote by party - LCD 54%, BNP 21%, LPC 7%, other 18%; seats by party - LCD 76, BNP 21, LPC 5, other 18

Judicial branch: High Court; Court of Appeal; Magistrate's Court; customary or traditional court

Political parties and leaders:Basotho Congress Party or BCP [Tseliso MAKHAKHE]; Basotho National Party or BNP [Maj. Gen. Justine Metsing LEKHANYA]; Lesotho Congress for Democracy or LCD [Phebe MOTEBANO, chairwoman; Pakalitha MOSISILI, leader] - the governing party; Lesotho People's Congress or LPC [Kelebone MAOPE]; United Democratic Party or UDP [Charles MOFELI]; Marematlou Freedom Party or MFP and Setlamo Alliance [Vincent MALEBO]; Progressive National Party or PNP [Chief Peete Nkoebe PEETE]; Sefate Democratic Party or SDP [Bofihla NKUEBE]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFCTU, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: AmbassadorMolelekeng Ernestina RAPOLAKI
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 G. LOFTIS
embassy: 254 Kingsway, Maseru West (Consular Section)
mailing address: P. O. Box 333, Maseru 100, Lesotho
telephone: [266] 312666
FAX : [266] 310116

Flag description: divided diagonally from the lower hoist side corner; the upper half is white, bearing the brown silhouette of a large shield with crossed spear and club; the lower half is a diagonal blue band with a green triangle in the corner


Economy - overview: Small, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho's primary natural resource is water. Its economy is based on subsistence agriculture, livestock, remittances from miners employed in South Africa, and a rapidly growing apparel-assembly sector. The number of mineworkers has declined steadily over the past several years. A small manufacturing base depends largely on farm products that support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries. Agricultural products are exported primarily to South Africa. Proceeds from membership in a common customs union with South Africa form the majority of government revenue. Although drought has decreased agricultural activity over the past few years, completion of a major hydropower facility in January 1998 now permits the sale of water to South Africa, generating royalties for Lesotho. The pace of privatization has increased in recent years. In December 1999, the government embarked on a nine-month IMF staff-monitored program aimed at structural adjustment and stabilization of macroeconomic fundamentals. The government is in the process of applying for a three-year successor program with the IMF under its Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility. Lesotho has a marked inequality in income distribution and serious unemployment/underemployment problems that will not yield to short-run solutions.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $5.3 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 2.6% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,450 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 18%
industry: 38%
services : 44% (2001)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 6.9% (2001 est.)

Labor force:
total : 700,000 economically active
by occupation: 86% of resident population engaged in subsistence agriculture; roughly 35% of the active male wage earners work in South Africa

Unemployment rate: 45% (2000 est.)

revenues :$76 million
expenditures:$80 million, including capital expenditures of $15 million (FY99/00 est.)

Industries: food, beverages, textiles, handicrafts; construction; tourism

Industrial production growth rate: 15.5% (1999 est.)

Electricity - capacity: 13,400 kW (1993)
note: 98% of electricity supplied by South Africa

Electricity - production: 0 kWh
note: 98% of electricity supplied by South Africa

Electricity - consumption per capita:100 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley; livestock

total value: $250 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities: clothing, furniture, footwear, machinery and equipment, wool (1993)
partners: South African Customs Union 53.9%, North America 45.6% (1999)

total value: $720 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities: cfood; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products
partners: South African Customs Union 89.5%, Asia 7% (1999)

Debt - external: $715 million (2001 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: $123.7 million (1995)

Currency: South African rand (ZAR); 1 loti (LSL) = 100 lisente
note : maloti (M) is the plural form of loti

Exchange rates: maloti per US dollar - 11.58786 (January 2002), 8.60918 (2001), 6.93983 (2000), 6.10948 (1999), 5.52828 (1998), 4.60796 (1997); note - the Lesotho loti is at par with the South African rand which is also legal tender; maloti is the plural form of loti

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


Telephones: 22,200 (2000)

Telephone system: rudimentary system
domestic: consists of a few landlines, a small microwave radio relay system, and a minor radiotelephone communication system
international : satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios: 66,000

Television broadcast stations: 1 (2000)

Televisions: 11,000 (1992 est.)


total: 2.6 km; note - owned by, operated by, and included in the statistics of South Africa
narrow gauge: 2.6 km 1.067-m gauge (1995)

total : 4,955 km
paved: 887 km
unpaved: 4,068 km (1996)

Ports and harbors: none

Airports: 28 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total : 4
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 24
914 to 1,523 m : 20 (2001)


Military branches: Lesotho Defense Force (LDF; includes Army and Air Wing), Lesotho Mounted Police

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 526,332 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 283,203 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $34 million (1999)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: The Lesotho Government in 1999 began an open debate on the future structure, size, and role of the armed forces, especially considering the Lesotho Defense Force's (LDF) history of intervening in political affairs

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

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