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Africa :: Lesotho
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  • 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

  • Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa
    29 30 S, 28 30 E
    total: 30,355 sq km
    land: 30,355 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    slightly smaller than Maryland
    total: 1,106 km
    border countries (1): South Africa 1,106 km
    0 km (landlocked)
    none (landlocked)
    temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers
    mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains
    lowest point: junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m
    highest point: Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m
    water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone
    agricultural land: 76.1%
    arable land 10.1%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 65.9%
    forest: 1.5%
    other: 22.4% (2011 est.)
    26.37 sq km (2003)
    3.02 cu km (2011)
    total: 0.04 cu km/yr (46%/46%/9%)
    per capita: 21.79 cu m/yr (2000)
    periodic droughts
    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
    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
    landlocked, completely surrounded by South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 m above sea level
  • People and Society :: LESOTHO

  • noun: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)
    adjective: Basotho
    Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%,
    Sesotho (official) (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa
    Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
    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 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 32.9% (male 321,017/female 318,265)
    15-24 years: 19.9% (male 184,006/female 203,336)
    25-54 years: 36.8% (male 349,365/female 364,970)
    55-64 years: 4.9% (male 51,274/female 44,847)
    65 years and over: 5.4% (male 52,955/female 51,973) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 67.1%
    youth dependency ratio: 60.1%
    elderly dependency ratio: 7%
    potential support ratio: 14.3% (2014 est.)
    total: 23.6 years
    male: 23.6 years
    female: 23.6 years (2014 est.)
    0.34% (2014 est.)
    25.92 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    14.91 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    -7.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 26.8% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 3.05% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    MASERU (capital) 267,000 (2014)
    at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.99 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2009 est.)
    490 deaths/100,000 live births (2013 est.)
    total: 50.48 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 54.38 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 46.45 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 52.65 years
    male: 52.55 years
    female: 52.75 years (2014 est.)
    2.78 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    47% (2009/10)
    11.5% of GDP (2013)
    1.3 beds/1,000 population (2006)
    urban: 93.2% of population
    rural: 76.7% of population
    total: 81.3% of population
    urban: 6.8% of population
    rural: 23.3% of population
    total: 18.7% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 37% of population
    rural: 26.7% of population
    total: 29.6% of population
    urban: 63% of population
    rural: 73.3% of population
    total: 70.4% of population (2012 est.)
    22.85% (2013 est.)
    364,400 (2013 est.)
    16,100 (2013 est.)
    11.9% (2014)
    13.5% (2010)
    13% of GDP (2008)
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 79.4%
    male: 70.1%
    female: 88.3% (2015 est.)
    total: 11 years
    male: 11 years
    female: 12 years (2012)
    total number: 103,020
    percentage: 23% (2000 est.)
    total: 34.4%
    male: 29%
    female: 41.9% (2008 est.)
  • 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)
    previous 1959, 1967; latest adopted 2 April 1993 (effectively restoring the 1967 version); amended 2001 (2013)
    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 Pakalitha MOSISILI (since 18 March 2015)
    cabinet: Cabinet
    elections: 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 next in line of succession or shall serve as regent in the event that the successor is not of mature age
    description: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (33 seats; 22 principal chiefs and 11 other senators nominated by the king with the advice of the Council of State, a 13-member body of key government and non-government officials; members serve 5-year terms) and the National Assembly (120 seats; 80 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 40 directly elected in single-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)
    elections: last held on 28 February 2015 (next to be held in 2020)
    election results: percent of vote by party - DC 38.8%, ABC 38.1%, LCD, 10.0%, BNP 5.6%, PFD 1.7%, RCL 1.2%, NIP 1.0%, other 3.6%; seats by party - DC 47, ABC 46, LCD 12, BNP 7, PFD 2, RCL 2, NIP 1, MFP 1, BCP 1, LPC 1
    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 Congress Party or BCP [Thulo MAHLAKENG]
    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 [Molahlehi LETLOTLO]
    Marematlou Freedom Party or MFP [Vincent MALEBO]
    National Independent Party or NIP [Kimetso MATHABA]
    Popular Front for Democracy of PFD [Lekhetho RAKUOANE]
    Reformed Congress of Lesotho or RCL [Keketso RANTSO]
    Media Institute of Southern Africa, Lesotho chapter [Tsebo MATASA] (pushes for media freedom)
    chief of mission: Ambassador Eliachim Molapi SEBATANE (since 2 November 2011)
    chancery: 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 797-5533
    FAX: [1] (202) 234-6815
    chief of mission: Ambassador Matthew T. HARRINGTON (since October 2014)
    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
    mokorotio (Basotho hat); national colors: blue, white, green, black
    name: "Lesotho fatse la bo ntat'a rona" (Lesotho, Land of Our Fathers)
    lyrics/music: Francois COILLARD/Ferdinand-Samuel LAUR
    note: adopted 1967; music derives from an 1823 Swiss songbook
  • Economy :: LESOTHO

  • Small, mountainous, and completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho depends on a narrow economic base of textile manufacturing, agriculture, remittances, and regional customs revenue. About three-fourths of the people live in rural areas and engage in animal herding and subsistence agriculture, although Lesotho produces less than 20% of the nation's demand for food. Rain-fed agriculture is vulnerable to weather and climate variability. 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. Lesotho is a member of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), and revenues from SACU accounted for roughly 44% of total government revenue in 2014. 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 - government consumption accounted for 37% of GDP in 2014 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.
    $5.589 billion (2014 est.)
    $5.359 billion (2013 est.)
    $5.07 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    $2.458 billion (2014 est.)
    4.3% (2014 est.)
    5.7% (2013 est.)
    6% (2012 est.)
    $2,900 (2014 est.)
    $2,800 (2013 est.)
    $2,700 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2013 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 191
    34.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
    32.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
    31.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
    household consumption: 84.4%
    government consumption: 38.7%
    investment in fixed capital: 38%
    investment in inventories: -0.7%
    exports of goods and services: 49.9%
    imports of goods and services: -110.3%
    (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 7.5%
    industry: 35.7%
    services: 56.9% (2014 est.)
    corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley; livestock
    food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction, tourism
    3.3% (2014 est.)
    894,400 (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 86%
    industry and services: 14%
    note: most of the resident population is engaged in subsistence agriculture; roughly 35% of the active male wage earners work in South Africa (2002 est.)
    28.1% (2014 est.)
    25% (2008 est.)
    49% (1999)
    lowest 10%: 1%
    highest 10%: 39.4% (2003)
    63.2 (1995)
    56 (1986-87)
    revenues: $1.358 billion
    expenditures: $1.406 billion (2014 est.)
    55.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
    -1.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
    1 April - 31 March
    6% (2014 est.)
    4.9% (2013 est.)
    9.36% (31 December 2012)
    10% (31 December 2010)
    10.2% (31 December 2014 est.)
    9.92% (31 December 2013 est.)
    $425.9 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $380.2 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $942.6 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $825.7 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $38.65 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $37.18 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $-449.1 million (2014 est.)
    $-228.3 million (2013 est.)
    $824.9 million (2014 est.)
    $814.6 million (2013 est.)
    manufactures (clothing, footwear), wool and mohair, food and live animals, electricity, water, diamonds
    $1.931 billion (2014 est.)
    $1.78 billion (2013 est.)
    food; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products
    $1.101 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $1.055 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $929.5 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $916.8 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $909.1 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $635.7 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    maloti (LSL) per US dollar -
    10.6 (2014 est.)
    9.64 (2013 est.)
    8.2 (2012 est.)
    7.26 (2011 est.)
    7.32 (2010 est.)
  • Energy :: LESOTHO

  • 700 million kWh (2011 est.)
    898 million kWh (2011 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    247 million kWh (2011 est.)
    80,000 kW (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    100% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 bbl (1 January 2014 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    1,830 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    3,711 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    270,100 Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: LESOTHO

  • 43,100 (2012)
    1.312 million (2012)
    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)
    AM 1, FM 3, shortwave 1 (2007)
    1 (2007)
    11,030 (2012)
    76,800 (2009)
  • Transportation :: LESOTHO

  • 24 (2013)
    total: 3
    over 3,047 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 1
    under 914 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 21
    914 to 1,523 m: 5
    under 914 m:
    16 (2013)
    total: 5,940 km
    paved: 1,069 km
    unpaved: 4,871 km (2011)
  • 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.)
    1.94% of GDP (2012)
    2.3% of GDP (2011)
    1.94% of GDP (2010)
    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 commercial sexual exploitation within Lesotho and South Africa; 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; in 2013, the government initiated several prosecutions for trafficking offenses but did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts to address human trafficking; key portions of the 2011 anti-trafficking act remain unimplemented, including the development of formal referral procedures and the establishment of victim care centers; the government continued to rely on NGOs to identify and assist victims, without providing any funding or support for these services (2014)