Africa :: Lesotho

Introduction ::Lesotho

    Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. The Basuto National Party ruled the country during its 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 Batswana 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 disputed how the electoral law was applied to award proportional seats in the Assembly. In May 2012, competitive elections involving 18 parties saw Prime Minister Motsoahae Thomas THABANE form a coalition government - the first in the country's history - that ousted the 14-year incumbent, Pakalitha MOSISILI, who peacefully transferred power the following month.

Geography ::Lesotho

People and Society ::Lesotho

Government ::Lesotho

    conventional long form: Kingdom of Lesotho
    conventional short form: Lesotho
    local long form: Kingdom of Lesotho
    local short form: Lesotho
    former: Basutoland
    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)
    10 districts; Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Mafeteng, Maseru, Mohale's Hoek, Mokhotlong, Qacha's Nek, Quthing, Thaba-Tseka
    4 October 1966 (from the UK)
    Independence Day, 4 October (1966)
    2 April 1993
    mixed legal system of 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; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal
    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 Motsoahae Thomas THABANE (since 8 June 2012)
    cabinet: Cabinet
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: according to the constitution, the leader of the majority party, or coalition of parties, 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
    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 26 May 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - DC 48, ABC 30, LCD 26, BNP 5, PFD 3, NIP 2, other 6
    highest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the court president, such number of justices of appeal as set by Parliament, and the Chief Justice and the puisne judges of the High Court ex officio); High Court (consists of the chief justice and such number of puisne judges as set by Parliament); note - both the Court of Appeal and the High Court have jurisdiction in constitutional issues
    judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal president and High Court chief justice appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister; puisne judges appointed by the monarch on advice of the Judicial Service Commission, an independent body of judicial officers and officials designated by the monarch; judges of both courts can serve until age 75
    subordinate courts: Magistrate Courts; customary or traditional courts; Courts Martial
    All Basotho Convention or ABC [Motsoahae Thomas THABANE]
    Basotho Batho Democratic Party or BBDP [Geremane RAMATHEBANE]
    Basotho Congress Party or BCP [Thulo MAHLAKENG]
    Basotho Democratic National Party or BDNP [Thabang NYEOE]
    Basotho National Party or BNP [Thesele 'MASERIBANE]
    Democratic Congress or DC [Pakalitha MOSISILI]
    Lesotho Congress for Democracy or LCD [Mothetjoa METSING]
    Lesotho Peoples Congress or LPC [Kelebone MAOPE]
    Lesotho Workers Party or LWP [Macaefa BILLY]
    Marematlou Freedom Party or MFP [Vincent MALEBO]
    National Independent Party or NIP [Kimetso MATHABA]
    Media Institute of Southern Africa, Lesotho chapter [Tsebo MATÅ ASA] (pushes for media freedom)
    chief of mission: Ambassador Eliachim Molapi SEBATANE
    chancery: 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 797-5533
    FAX: [1] (202) 234-6815
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Carl B. FOX
    embassy: 254 Kingsway Road, Maseru West (Consular Section)
    mailing address: P. O. Box 333, Maseru 100, Lesotho
    telephone: [266] 22 312666
    FAX: [266] 22 310116
    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
    Basotho hat
    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

    Small, mountainous, and completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho is a least developed country in which about three-fourths of the people live in rural areas and engage in subsistence agriculture. Lesotho produces less than 20% of the nation's demand for food. Rain-fed agriculture is vulnerable to weather and climate variability; an estimated 725,500 people will require food assistance in 2012/13. The distribution of income in Lesotho remains inequitable. Lesotho relies on South Africa for much of its economic activity. Lesotho imports 90% of the goods it consumes from South Africa, including most agricultural inputs. Households depend heavily on remittances from family members working in South Africa, in mines, on farms and as domestic workers, though mining employment has declined substantially since the 1990s. Government revenue depends heavily on transfers from South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern Africa Customs Union accounted for 44% of government revenue in 2012. The South African Government also pays royalties for water transferred to South Africa from a dam and reservoir system in Lesotho. However, the government continues to strengthen its tax system to reduce dependency on customs duties and other transfers. Access to credit remains a problem for the private sector. The government maintains a large presence in the economy - public expenditures accounted for 55% of GDP in 2010 and the government remains Lesotho's largest employer. Lesotho's largest private employer is the textile and garment industry - approximately 36,000 Basotho, mainly women, work in factories producing garments for export to South Africa and the US. Diamond mining in Lesotho has grown in recent years and may contribute 8.5% to GDP by 2015, according to current forecasts. Lesotho's $362.5 million Millennium Challenge Account Compact, which focused on strengthening the healthcare system, developing the private sector, and providing access to improved water supplies and sanitation facilities, will end in September 2013. Despite the 2008/09 global economic crisis, the economy has recovered strongly with growth averaging nearly 5% per year since 2010.
    $4.131 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 175
    $3.972 billion (2011 est.)
    $3.758 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $2.439 billion (2012 est.)
    4% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 77
    5.7% (2011 est.)
    6.3% (2010 est.)
    $2,200 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 191
    $2,100 (2011 est.)
    $2,000 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    21.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 67
    9.4% of GDP (2011 est.)
    8.7% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 97.2%
    government consumption: 33.9%
    investment in fixed capital: 37.3%
    investment in inventories: -0.1%
    exports of goods and services: 50.9%
    imports of goods and services: -118.3%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 6.4%
    industry: 34.6%
    services: 59% (2012 est.)
    corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley; livestock
    food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction, tourism
    6.6% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    894,500 (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    agriculture: 86%
    industry and services: 14%
    note: most of resident population engaged in subsistence agriculture; roughly 35% of the active male wage earners work in South Africa (2002 est.)
    25% (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 174
    45% (2002 est.)
    49% (1999)
    lowest 10%: 1%
    highest 10%: 39.4% (2003)
    63.2 (1995)
    country comparison to the world: 1
    56 (1986-87)
    revenues: $1.658 billion
    expenditures: $1.536 billion (2012 est.)
    68% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 4
    5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 13
    1 April - 31 March
    6.1% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    5% (2011 est.)
    9.36% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    10% (31 December 2010 est.)
    10.08% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    10.4% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $408.9 million (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    $346.5 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $897 million (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    $820.4 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $82.19 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 187
    $60.61 million (31 December 2010 est.)
    -$352.6 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    -$521.5 million (2011 est.)
    $1.03 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 156
    $1.003 billion (2011 est.)
    manufactures (clothing, footwear), wool and mohair, food and live animals, electricity, water, diamonds
    $2.404 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    $2.296 billion (2011 est.)
    food; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products
    $1.023 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 134
    $954.5 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $778.6 million (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 166
    $791.9 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $242 million (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    $120 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    maloti (LSL) per US dollar -
    8.2031 (2012 est.)
    7.26 (2011 est.)
    7.32 (2010 est.)
    8.47 (2009)
    7.75 (2008)

Energy ::Lesotho

Communications ::Lesotho

    38,600 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 168
    1.232 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    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 roughly 65 per 100 persons in 2011; rural services are scant
    international: country code - 266; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)
    1 state-owned TV station and 2 state-owned radio stations; government controls most private broadcast media; satellite TV subscription service available; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters obtainable (2008)
    11,030 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    76,800 (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 168

Transportation ::Lesotho

Military ::Lesotho

    Lesotho Defense Force (LDF): Army (includes Air Wing) (2012)
    18-24 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; women serve as commissioned officers (2012)
    males age 16-49: 472,456
    females age 16-49: 508,953 (2010 est.)
    males age 16-49: 270,184
    females age 16-49: 275,734 (2010 est.)
    male: 19,110
    female: 20,037 (2010 est.)
    1.9% of GDP (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    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

    South Africa has placed military units to assist police operations along the border of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to control smuggling, poaching, and illegal migration
    current situation: Lesotho is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and for men subjected to forced labor; Basotho women and children are subjected to domestic servitude and children, to a lesser extent, commercial sexual exploitation within Lesotho and South Africa; some Basotho women willingly migrate to South Africa seeking work in domestic service only to be forced into prostitution; some Basotho men who voluntarily migrate to South Africa for work become victims of forced labor in agriculture and mining or are coerced into committing crimes
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Lesotho does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government has decreased its anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim protection efforts during 2012; authorities have initiated fewer prosecutions, ceased arresting suspected trafficking offenders due to a backlog of prosecutions, and stopped referring victims to NGO centers for care; the government has not implemented key portions of the 2011 anti-trafficking act, including failing to develop formal referral procedures, establish victim care centers, and complete a national action plan (2013)