Photos of Lesotho

Maseru is the capital city of the Kingdom of Lesotho, and is located along the northwestern border of the country with the Republic of South Africa. The footprint of the urban area, recognizable by street grids and distinctive blue-roofed industrial buildings at image center, is only just visible against the surrounding landscape. The city has expanded eightfold since independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, and is now home to one in five citizens of the country. 
The Caledon (or Mohokare) River flows adjacent to Maseru and forms a part of the border between Lesotho and South Africa. Locally, the border extends from approximately image top center left to image bottom center right, with the cities of Ladybrand and Manyatseng located in South Africa. Moshoeshoe International Airport (left) provides access to the capital. Major industries in the city include flour mills and footwear and textile companies. Tourism is also a growing part of the local economy. 
The Kingdom of Lesotho is completely landlocked by the surrounding Republic of South Africa. Major landforms visible in the image include the Qeme and Berea Plateaus, erosional remnants of horizontally layered sedimentary rocks that formed in the Karoo Basin approximately 200 - 229 million years ago during the Upper Triassic Period. Photo courtesy of NASA.



Paramount chief MOSHOESHOE I consolidated what would become Basutoland in the early 19th century and made himself king in 1822. Continuing encroachments by Dutch settlers from the neighboring Orange Free State caused the king to enter into an 1868 agreement with the UK that made Basutoland first a British protectorate and, after 1884, a crown colony. After gaining independence in 1966, the country was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho. The Basotho National Party ruled the country during its first two decades. King MOSHOESHOE II was exiled in 1990, returned to Lesotho in 1992, was reinstated in 1995, and was then 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 (SADC). Subsequent constitutional reforms restored relative political stability. Peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002, but the National Assembly elections in 2007 were hotly contested, and aggrieved parties disputed how seats were awarded. In 2012, competitive elections 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. MOSISILI returned to power in snap elections in 2015 after the collapse of THABANE’s coalition government and an alleged attempted military coup. In 2017, THABANE returned to become prime minister but stepped down in 2020 after being implicated in his estranged wife’s murder. He was succeeded by Moseketsi MAJORO. In 2022, Ntsokoane Samuel MATEKANE was inaugurated as prime minister and head of a three-party coalition.

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Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa

Geographic coordinates

29 30 S, 28 30 E


total: 30,355 sq km

land: 30,355 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 141

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 1,106 km

border countries (1): South Africa 1,106 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


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


mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains


highest point: Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m

lowest point: junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m

mean elevation: 2,161 m

Natural resources

water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone

Land use

agricultural land: 76.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 65.9% (2018 est.)

forest: 1.5% (2018 est.)

other: 22.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

12 sq km (2013)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Orange river source (shared with South Africa and Namibia [m]) - 2,092 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Orange (941,351 sq km)

Population distribution

relatively higher population density in the western half of the nation, with the capital of Maseru, and the smaller cities of Mafeteng, Teyateyaneng, and Leribe attracting the most people as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

periodic droughts

Geography - note

landlocked, an enclave of (completely surrounded by) South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 m above sea level

People and Society


total: 2,227,548

male: 1,101,959

female: 1,125,589 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 146; male 147; total 147


noun: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)

adjective: Basotho

Ethnic groups

Sotho 99.7%, other 0.3% (includes Kwena, Nguni (Hlubi and Phuthi), Zulu)


Sesotho (official) (southern Sotho), English (official), Phuthi, Xhosa, Zulu


Protestant 47.8% (Pentecostal 23.1%, Lesotho Evangelical 17.3%, Anglican 7.4%), Roman Catholic 39.3%, other Christian 9.1%, non-Christian 1.4%, none 2.3% (2014 est.)

Demographic profile

Lesotho faces great socioeconomic challenges. Almost half of its population lives below the poverty line as of 2017, and the country’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is the second highest in the world as of 2021. In addition, Lesotho is a small, mountainous, landlocked country with little arable land, leaving its population vulnerable to food shortages and reliant on remittances. Lesotho’s persistently high infant, child, and maternal mortality rates have been increasing during the last decade, according to the last two Demographic and Health Surveys. Despite these significant shortcomings, Lesotho has made good progress in education; it is on-track to achieve universal primary education and has one of the highest adult literacy rates in Africa.

Lesotho’s migration history is linked to its unique geography; it is surrounded by South Africa with which it shares linguistic and cultural traits. Lesotho at one time had more of its workforce employed outside its borders than any other country. Today remittances equal about 20% of its GDP. With few job options at home, a high rate of poverty, and higher wages available across the border, labor migration to South Africa replaced agriculture as the prevailing Basotho source of income decades ago. The majority of Basotho migrants were single men contracted to work as gold miners in South Africa. However, migration trends changed in the 1990s, and fewer men found mining jobs in South Africa because of declining gold prices, stricter immigration policies, and a preference for South African workers.

Although men still dominate cross-border labor migration, more women are working in South Africa, mostly as domestics, because they are widows or their husbands are unemployed. Internal rural-urban flows have also become more frequent, with more women migrating within the country to take up jobs in the garment industry or moving to care for loved ones with HIV/AIDS. Lesotho’s small population of immigrants is increasingly composed of Taiwanese and Chinese migrants who are involved in the textile industry and small retail businesses.

Age structure

0-14 years: 32% (male 358,137/female 353,618)

15-64 years: 62.7% (male 699,197/female 696,626)

65 years and over: 5.4% (2024 est.) (male 44,625/female 75,345)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 62.1

youth dependency ratio: 55.3

elderly dependency ratio: 6.8

potential support ratio: 14.7 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 23.9 years (2024 est.)

male: 23.4 years

female: 24.3 years

comparison ranking: total 179

Population growth rate

0.76% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 116

Birth rate

22.9 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 50

Death rate

10.8 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 28

Net migration rate

-4.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 199

Population distribution

relatively higher population density in the western half of the nation, with the capital of Maseru, and the smaller cities of Mafeteng, Teyateyaneng, and Leribe attracting the most people as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 30.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.77% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

202,000 MASERU (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.59 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.9 years (2014 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

566 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 9

Infant mortality rate

total: 45.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 51 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 40.2 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 24

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 60.2 years (2024 est.)

male: 58.1 years

female: 62.3 years

comparison ranking: total population 221

Total fertility rate

2.85 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 53

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 95.7% of population

rural: 77.2% of population

total: 82.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 4.3% of population

rural: 22.8% of population

total: 17.4% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

11.8% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.47 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 93.6% of population

rural: 62.4% of population

total: 71.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 6.4% of population

rural: 37.6% of population

total: 28.6% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

16.6% (2016)

comparison ranking: 121

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 3.56 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 1.98 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.44 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.31 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.82 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 103

Tobacco use

total: 24.3% (2020 est.)

male: 43.1% (2020 est.)

female: 5.4% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 55

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

10.5% (2018)

comparison ranking: 55

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 1%

women married by age 18: 16.4%

men married by age 18: 1.9% (2018 est.)

Education expenditures

8.7% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 11


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 81%

male: 72.9%

female: 88.8% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years

male: 12 years

female: 13 years (2017)


Environment - current issues

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

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, 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


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

Land use

agricultural land: 76.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 65.9% (2018 est.)

forest: 1.5% (2018 est.)

other: 22.4% (2018 est.)


urban population: 30.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.77% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to poor harvests and increased food prices - according to the latest national food security assessment, 22% of the rural population are expected to face acute food insecurity between October 2022 and March 2023, compared to 15% between July and September 2022; the forecasted proportion translates into 320,000 people in rural areas, while an additional 201,000 people in urban areas are foreseen to also need assistance; the foreseen increase of acute food insecurity levels is primarily due to the reduced harvest, high food prices in basic food and non‑food commodities and a slow recovery of households’ income reflecting a downturn in economic growth; harvesting of the 2022 main-season summer cereal crops, mostly maize and sorghum, is complete; production of maize, the main cereal staple, is about one‑third of the average, while the sorghum output is almost negligible; the poor harvest was primarily due to torrential rainfalls during January and February 2022, which caused localized flooding and resulted in crop losses (2022)

Revenue from forest resources

3.34% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 22

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 96

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 17.6 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 2.51 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 2.56 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 73,457 tons (2006 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Orange river source (shared with South Africa and Namibia [m]) - 2,092 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Orange (941,351 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 20 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 20 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 3.8 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

3.02 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Lesotho

conventional short form: Lesotho

local long form: Kingdom of Lesotho

local short form: Lesotho

former: Basutoland

etymology: the name translates as "Land of the Sesotho Speakers"

Government type

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)

etymology: in the Sesotho language the name means "[place of] red sandstones"

Administrative divisions

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


4 October 1966 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 4 October (1966)


history: previous 1959, 1967; latest adopted 2 April 1993 (effectively restoring the 1967 version)

amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage of amendments affecting constitutional provisions, including fundamental rights and freedoms, sovereignty of the kingdom, the office of the king, and powers of Parliament, requires a majority vote by the National Assembly, approval by the Senate, approval in a referendum by a majority of qualified voters, and assent of the king; passage of amendments other than those specified provisions requires at least a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Parliament; amended several times, last in 2011

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

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King LETSIE III (since 7 February 1996)

head of government: Prime Minister Ntsokoane Samuel MATEKANE (28 October 2022)

cabinet: consists of the prime minister, appointed by the King on the advice of the Council of State, the deputy prime minister, and 18 other ministers; the prime minister is the leader of the majority party or majority coalition in the National Assembly

elections/appointments: 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, to determine next in line of succession, or to serve as regent in the event that a successor is not of mature age
note - King LETSIE III formerly occupied the throne from November 1990 to February 1995 while his father was in exile

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
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)
National Assembly (120 seats; 80 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 40 elected through proportional representation; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: Senate - last appointed by the king in November 2022 (next to be appointed 2028)
National Assembly - last held on 7 October 2022 (next to be held in February 2028)

election results: Senate - percent of votes by party - NA, seats by party - NA; composition - men 25, women 8, percentage women 24.2%

National Assembly - percent of votes by party - RFP 38.9%, DC 24.7%, ABC 7.1%, BAP 5.4%, AD 4.0%, MEC 3.2%, LCD 2.3%, SR 2.1%, BNP 1.4%, PFD 0.9%, BCM 0.8%, MPS 0.8%, MIP 0.7%; seats by party - RFP 56, DC 29, ABC 8, BAP 6, AD 5, MEC 4, LCD 3, SR 2, BNP 1, PFD 1, BCM 1, MPS 1, NIP 1, HOPE 1, TBD 1; composition - men 90, women 30, percentage 25%; note - total Parliament percentage women 24.8%

Judicial branch

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; military courts

Political parties and leaders

All Basotho Convention or ABC [Nkaku KABI]
Alliance of Democrats or AD [Ntoi RAPPA]
Basotho Action Party or BAP [Nqosa MAHAO]
Basotho National Party or BNP [Machesetsa MOFOMOBE]
Democratic Congress or DC [Mathibeli MOKHOTHU]
Democratic Party of Lesotho or DPL [Limpho TAU]
Lesotho Congress for Democracy or LCD [Mothetjoa METSING]
Lesotho People's Congress or LPC [Moipone PIET]
Movement of Economic Change or MEC [Selibe MOCHOBOROANE]
National Independent Party or NIP [Kimetso MATHABA]
Popular Front for Democracy of PFD [Lekhetho RAKUOANE]
Reformed Congress of Lesotho or RCL [Keketso RANTSO]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Tumisang MOSOTHO (since 16 September 2022)

chancery: 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 797-5533

FAX: [1] (202) 234-6815

email address and website:

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Maria E. BREWER (since 10 March 2022)

embassy: 254 Kingsway Avenue, Maseru

mailing address: 2340 Maseru Place, Washington DC  20521-2340

telephone: [266] 22312666

FAX: [266] 22310116

email address and website:

Flag description

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 mokorotlo, a traditional Basotho straw hat and national symbol; the redesigned flag was unfurled in October 2006 to celebrate 40 years of independence

National symbol(s)

mokorotio (Basotho hat); national colors: blue, white, green, black

National anthem

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

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 1 (mixed)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Maloti-Drakensberg Park


Economic overview

lower middle-income economy surrounded by South Africa; environmentally fragile and politically unstable; key infrastructure and renewable energy investments; dire poverty; urban job and income losses due to COVID-19; systemic corruption

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$5.166 billion (2022 est.)
$5.109 billion (2021 est.)
$5.016 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 178

Real GDP growth rate

1.11% (2022 est.)
1.85% (2021 est.)
-7.46% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 186

Real GDP per capita

$2,200 (2022 est.)
$2,200 (2021 est.)
$2,200 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 201

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.237 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

8.27% (2022 est.)
6.05% (2021 est.)
4.98% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 133

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B (2019)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 5.8% (2016 est.)

industry: 39.2% (2016 est.)

services: 54.9% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 155; industry 34; agriculture 121

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 69.2% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 26.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 31.4% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -13.4% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 40.8% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -54.4% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, potatoes, maize, vegetables, fruits, beans, wheat, game meat, sorghum, wool (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage


food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction, tourism

Industrial production growth rate

-0.12% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 163

Labor force

990,000 (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 146

Unemployment rate

16.75% (2022 est.)
18.45% (2021 est.)
18.46% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 199

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 37.4% (2021 est.)

male: 32.8%

female: 43.8%

comparison ranking: total 20

Population below poverty line

49.7% (2017 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

44.9 (2017 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 27

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%

highest 10%: 32.9% (2017 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population


25.73% of GDP (2022 est.)
21.25% of GDP (2021 est.)
22.63% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities


revenues: $1.054 billion (2020 est.)

expenditures: $1.21 billion (2020 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 182

Public debt

2.97% of GDP (2020 est.)
32.56% of GDP (2019 est.)
32.84% of GDP (2018 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 206

Taxes and other revenues

32.05% (of GDP) (2022 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 23

Current account balance

-$177.918 million (2022 est.)
-$106.817 million (2021 est.)
-$35.402 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 93


$1.07 billion (2022 est.)
$1.082 billion (2021 est.)
$902.123 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 181

Exports - partners

South Africa 37%, US 28%, Belgium 19%, UAE 6%, UK 3% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

garments, diamonds, water, wool, power equipment (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars


$2.244 billion (2022 est.)
$2.222 billion (2021 est.)
$1.986 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 173

Imports - partners

South Africa 77%, China 6%, Taiwan 5%, Zimbabwe 4%, India 2% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, fabric, cotton, garments, electricity (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$774.095 million (2019 est.)
$728.528 million (2018 est.)
$657.668 million (2017 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 145

Debt - external

$868 million (2019 est.)
$834 million (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 166

Exchange rates

maloti (LSL) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
16.356 (2022 est.)
14.779 (2021 est.)
16.459 (2020 est.)
14.448 (2019 est.)
13.234 (2018 est.)


Electricity access

population without electricity: 1 million (2020)

electrification - total population: 50.3% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 80.6% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 37.7% (2021)


installed generating capacity: 74,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 912.8 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 541.7 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 129.9 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 188; transmission/distribution losses 57; imports 84; exports 138; consumption 162

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 99.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)


production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)


total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 5,100 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 162

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 154

Refined petroleum products - imports

5,118 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 170

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

736,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 736,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 181

Energy consumption per capita

7.823 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 164


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 7,000 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2022 est.) less than 1

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 194

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 1.557 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 68 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 157

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: until late 2020, Lesotho’s telecom regulator maintained a market duopoly which is focused on fixed-line services; competition was insufficient to promote effective price reductions for consumers, while the regulator had no mechanisms in place to monitor the telcos to ensure quality of service and fair pricing for consumers; the small size of the country’s population provided little incentive for new players to enter the market; a positive outcome for consumers was the deployment in early 2021 of a service to monitor traffic and billing; this ended the practice whereby the regulator was dependent on telcos submitting data about their performance, billing, and other matters; the regulator has also turned its attention to addressing multiple SIM ownership and stemming incidences of crimes committed using unregistered SIMs; in May 2022, it instructed the country’s Mobile Network Operators to begin registering SIM cards on their networks from the following month; fixed-wireless 5G trials began in early 2019 (2022)

domestic: fixed-line is less than 1 per 100 subscriptions; mobile-cellular service subscribership is 80 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 266; Internet accessibility has improved with several submarine fiber optic cables that land on African east and west coasts, but the country's land locked position makes access prices expensive; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

Broadcast media

1 state-owned TV station and 2 state-owned radio stations; most private broadcast media transmitters are connected to government radio signal towers; satellite TV subscription service available; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters obtainable (2019)

Internet users

total: 1.104 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 48% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 148

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 5,060 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.2 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 185



33 (2024)

comparison ranking: 115


total: 6,906 km

paved: 1,799 km

unpaved: 5,107 km (2022)

comparison ranking: total 146

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Lesotho Defense Force (LDF): Army (includes Air Wing) (2024)

note: the Lesotho Mounted Police Service is responsible for internal security and reports to the Minister of Local Government, Chieftainship, Home Affairs and Police

Military expenditures

1.6% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.5% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.6% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.8% of GDP (2019 est.)
2.1% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 79

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 2,000 personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the LDF has a small inventory of older and second-hand equipment from a variety of countries (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for voluntary military service for both men and women (women can serve in combat arms); no conscription (2024)

Military - note

Lesotho's declared policy for its military is the maintenance of the country's sovereignty and the preservation of internal security; in practice, external security is guaranteed by South Africa; the LDF is a small force comprised of about a half dozen infantry companies; it began in 1964 as the Police Mobile Unit (PMU); the PMU was designated as the Lesotho Paramilitary Force in 1980 and became the Royal Lesotho Defense Force in 1986; it was renamed the Lesotho Defense Force in 1993 (2024)