Lesotho

Country Summary

2023 population pyramid

Introduction

Background

Basutoland became Lesotho after gaining independence from the UK in 1966. Constitutional reforms in the late 1990s restored relative political stability.

Geography

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

Natural resources

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

People and Society

Population

total: 2,227,548
male: 1,101,959
female: 1,125,589 (2024 est.)

Ethnic groups

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

Languages

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

Religions

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.)

Population growth rate

0.76% (2024 est.)

Government

Government type

parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Capital

name: Maseru

Executive branch

chief of state: King LETSIE III (since 7 February 1996)
head of government: Prime Minister Ntsokoane Samuel MATEKANE (28 October 2022)

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)

Economy

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.)

Real GDP per capita

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

Agricultural products

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

Industries

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

Exports

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

Exports - partners

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

Exports - commodities

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

Imports

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

Imports - partners

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

Imports - commodities

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

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.)


Page last updated: Wednesday, June 12, 2024