[Country map of Lesotho]



Location: Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa

Map references: Africa

total area: 30,350 sq km
land area: 30,350 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Maryland

Land boundaries: total 909 km, South Africa 909 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none; landlocked

International disputes: none

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

Terrain: mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains

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

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 66%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 24%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

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

Note: landlocked; surrounded by South Africa


Population: 1,992,960 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 41% (female 407,213; male 416,709)
15-64 years: 54% (female 558,106; male 520,961)
65 years and over: 5% (female 51,809; male 38,162) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.44% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 33.39 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 8.96 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 67.4 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 62.56 years
male: 60.74 years
female: 64.43 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.41 children born/woman (1995 est.)

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

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

Religions: Christian 80%, rest indigenous beliefs

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

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1966)
total population: 59%
male: 44%
female: 68%

Labor force: 689,000 economically active
by occupation: 86.2% of resident population engaged in subsistence agriculture; roughly 60% of the active male wage earners work in South Africa


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

Digraph: LT

Type: constitutional monarchy

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 MOSHOESHOE II (since February 1995)
head of government: Prime Minister Ntsu MOKHEHLE (since 2 April 1993)
cabinet: Cabinet

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consisting of the Assembly or lower house whose members are chosen by popular election and the Senate or upper house whose members consist of the 22 principal chiefs and 11 other members appointed by the ruling party; election last held in March 1993 (first since 1971); all 65 seats in the Assembly were won by the BCP

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

Political parties and leaders: Basotho National Party (BNP), Evaristus SEKHONYANA; Basotho Congress Party (BCP), Ntsu MOKHEHLE; National Independent Party (NIP), A. C. MANYELI; Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Vincent MALEBO; United Democratic Party, Charles MOFELI; Communist Party of Lesotho (CPL), Jacob M. KENA


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires ad interim Mokhali A. LITHEBE (since 2 July 1994)
chancery: 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 797-5533 through 5536
FAX: [1] (202) 234-6815

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Myrick BISMARCK
embassy: address NA, Maseru
mailing address: P. O. Box 333, Maseru 100, Lesotho
telephone: [266] 312666
FAX: [266] 310116

Flag: 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


Overview: Small, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho has no important natural resources other than water. Its economy is based on agriculture, light manufacturing, and remittances from laborers employed in South Africa (these remittances supplement domestic income by as much as 45%). The great majority of households gain their livelihoods from subsistence farming and migrant labor; a large portion of the adult male work force is employed in South African mines. Manufacturing depends largely on farm products to support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries; other industries include textile, clothing, and construction. Although drought has decreased agricultural activity over the past few years, improvement of a major hydropower facility will permit the sale of water to South Africa and allow Lesotho's economy to continue its moderate growth.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $2.6 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 6% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $1,340 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 13.9% (1993)

Unemployment rate: substantial unemployment and underemployment

revenues: $438 million
expenditures: $430 million, including capital expenditures of $155 million (FY93/94 est.)

Exports: $109 million (f.o.b., 1992)
commodities: wool, mohair, wheat, cattle, peas, beans, corn, hides, skins, baskets
partners: South Africa 42%, EC 28%, North and South America 25% (1991)

Imports: $964 million (c.i.f., 1992)
commodities: mainly corn, building materials, clothing, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum
partners: South Africa 94%, Asia 3%, EC 1% (1991)

External debt: $512 million (1993)

Industrial production: growth rate 10%; accounts for 17% of GDP (1993 est.)

Electricity: power supplied by South Africa

Industries: food, beverages, textiles, handicrafts, tourism

Agriculture: accounts for 50% of GDP (1993 est.); exceedingly primitive, mostly subsistence farming and livestock; principal crops corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $268 million; US (1992), $10.3 million; US (1993 est.), $10.1 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $819 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $4 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $14 million

Currency: 1 loti (L) = 100 lisente

Exchange rates: maloti (M) per US$1 - 3.5389 (January 1995), 3.5490 (1994), 3.2636 (1993), 2.8497 (1992), 2.7563 (1991), 2.5863 (1990); note - the Basotho loti is at par with the South African rand

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


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

total: 7,215 km
paved: 572 km
unpaved: gravel, stabilized earth 2,337 km; improved earth 1,806 km; unimproved earth 2,500 km (1988)

Ports: none

total: 29
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 23
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 4


Telephone system: 5,920 telephones; rudimentary system
local: NA
intercity: consists of a few land lines, a small microwave radio relay system, and a minor radio communication system
international: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 4, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

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

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 453,844; males fit for military service 244,767 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $25 million, NA% of GDP (1994)