Lesotho

Map

Lesotho Terrain: mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains;

Natural Resources: water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone;

Natural Hazards: periodic droughts;

Population: 1,936,181 (July 2013 est.)
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

Factbook

Introduction: Background

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 and subsequently succeeded by his son, King LETSIE III, in 1996. 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.

People and Society

Population 1,930,493 (July 2012 est.)
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

Languages Sesotho (official) (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa
Religions Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
Median Age total: 22.9 years
male: 22.8 years
female: 22.9 years (2011 est.)

Age Structure 0-14 years: 33.5% (male 323,934/female 321,727)
15-64 years: 61.1% (male 573,773/female 602,443)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 50,956/female 52,053) (2011 est.)

Government

Government Type parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Capital name: Maseru
geographic coordinates: 29 19 S, 27 29 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Legal System mixed legal system of English common law and Roman-Dutch law; judicial review of legislative acts in High Court and Court of Appeal

Geography

Location Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa
Area – Comparative slightly smaller than Maryland
Area total: 30,355 sq km
land: 30,355 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Climate temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers
Terrain mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains
Natural Hazards periodic droughts
Natural Resources water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone

Economy

Small, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho relies on remittances from Basotho 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. Most of the labor force is engaged in subsistence agriculture, especially livestock herding, 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 3.6% in 2010 and 5.2% in 2011.
GDP (Official Exchange Rate) $2.7 billion (2011 est.)
Budget revenues: $1.233 billion
expenditures: $1.603 billion (2011 est.)
Current Account Balance -$415.7 million (2011 est.)
-$433.4 million (2010 est.)
Imports – Commodities food; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products
Exports – Commodities manufactures 75% (clothing, footwear, road vehicles), wool and mohair, food and live animals

Communications

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 Users 76,800 (2009)
Internet Hosts 1,581 (2011)
Telephones – Mobile Cellular 698,800 (2010)
Telephones – Main Lines in Use 38,800 (2010)

Transportation
Airports 26 (2010)
Roadways total: 7,091 km
paved: 1,404 km
unpaved: 5,687 km (2003)

Military
Manpower Fit for Military Service males age 16-49: 270,184
females age 16-49: 275,734 (2010 est.)

Transitional Issues
Disputes – International none