Facts

 

Population: 45.49 million(2013)
Area:
30,355 km2

Capital CityMaseru

Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho (Sotho: ‘Muso oa Lesotho), is an enclaved, landlocked country in southern Africa completely surrounded by South Africa. It is just over 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) in size and has a population of around 2 million. Its capital and largest city is Maseru.

Previously known as Basutoland, Lesotho declared independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966. It is a member of the United Nations, the Common wealth of Nations and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.

Official languages   :  Sotho, English

Currency

 

Geography

Lesotho covers 30,355 km2 (11,720 sq mi). It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) in elevation. Its lowest point of 1,400 metres (4,593 ft) is thus the highest in the world. Over 80% of the country lies above 1,800 metres (5,906 ft). Lesotho is also the southernmost landlocked country in the world and is entirely surrounded by South Africa. It lies between latitudes 28° and 31°S, and longitudes 27° and 30°E.

Climate

Because of its altitude, Lesotho remains cooler throughout the year than other regions at the same latitude. Most of the rain falls as summer thunderstorms. Maseru and surrounding lowlands often reach 30 °C (86 °F) in summer. Winters can be cold with the lowlands getting down to −7 °C (19 °F) and the highlands to −18 °C (0 °F) at times. Snow is common in the highlands between May and September; the higher peaks can experience snowfalls year-round.

Economy

Lesotho is geographically surrounded by South Africa and economically integrated with it as well. The economy of Lesotho is based on agriculture, livestock, manufacturing and mining, and depends heavily on inflows of workers’ remittances and receipts from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The majority of households subsist on farming. The formal sector employment consists of mainly the female workers in the apparel sector, the male migrant labour, primarily miners in South Africa for 3 to 9 months and employment in the Government of Lesotho (GOL). The western lowlands form the main agricultural zone. Almost 50% of the population earn income through informal crop cultivation or animal husbandry with nearly two-thirds of the country’s income coming from the agricultural sector. The percentage of the population living below USD Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) US$1.25/day fell from 48 percent to 44 percent between 1995 and 2003. The country is among the “Low Human Development” countries (rank 160 of 187 on the Human Development Index as classified by the UNDP, with 48.2 years of life expectancy at birth. Adult literacy is as high as 82%. Among the children below the age of 5 years, 20% are under weight.

Population

Lesotho has a population of approximately 2,203,821. The population distribution of Lesotho is 25% urban and 75% rural. However, it is estimated that annual increase of urban population is 3.5%. Population density is lower in the highlands than in the western lowlands. Although the majority of the population—60.2%—is between 15 and 64 years of age, Lesotho has a substantial youth population numbering around 34.8%.

Religion

The population of Lesotho is estimated to be around 90% Christian. Protestants represent 45% of the population (Evangelicals 26%, Anglican and other Protestant groups an additional 19%). Roman Catholics also represent 45% of the population, pastorally served by the province of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Maseru and his three suffragans (the bishops of Leribe, Mohale’s Hoek and Qacha’s Nek), who also form the national episcopal conference.

Members of other religions (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Bahá’í) and members of traditional indigenous religions comprise the remaining 10% of the population.

Security

The internal and external security of Lesotho is the responsibility of the Defence Commission, which is established and defined by article 145 of the Lesotho national Constitution. The Prime Minister is the Chairman ex officio, and there are six other Defence Commission members, namely the Commander and Deputy Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service, and the Director and Deputy Director of the Lesotho National Security Service. The Defence Commission has power to strategically direct the defence force, the police, and the prison service, but not the security service, which is answerable only to the Government. The Defence Commission has power to appoint or remove the senior staff of the defence force, police, and prison service, but not the security service, whose Director and Deputy Director are personal appointments of the Prime Minister.

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) is established under article 146 of the national Constitution, and charged with the maintenance of internal security and the defence of Lesotho. Its chief officer is designated Commander by the Constitution, and usually holds the rank of Lieutenant General. The LDF has a total strength of just over 3,000. The largest component is infantry, but they are supported by small artillery, logistics, and air force units, and a single armoured reconnaissance company.

The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) is established under article 147 of the national Constitution, and charged with the maintenance of law and order. Its chief officer is designated Commissioner by the Constitution. The LMPS provides uniformed policing, criminal detection, and traffic policing. There are specialist units dealing with high-tech crime, immigration, wildlife, and terrorism. The current force has existed, despite changes of name, continuously since 1872.

The Lesotho National Security Service (LNSS) is established under article 148 of the national Constitution, and charged with the protection of national security. Its chief officer is designated Director by the Constitution. The LNSS is an intelligence service, reporting directly to the Government. The power to appoint or dismiss a Director is vested directly in the Prime Minister.

Culture

Traditional musical instruments include lekolulo, a kind of flute used by herding boys, setolo-tolo, played by men using their mouth, and the woman’s stringed thomo.

The national anthem of Lesotho is “Lesotho Fatše La Bo-ntata Rona”, which literally translates into “Lesotho, Land of Our Fore-Fathers”.

The traditional style of housing in Lesotho is called a mokhoro. Many older houses, especially in smaller towns and villages, are of this type, with walls usually constructed from large stones cemented together. Baked mud bricks and especially concrete blocks are also used nowadays, with thatched roofs still common, although often replaced by corrugated roofing sheets.

Traditional attire revolves around the Basotho blanket, a thick covering made primarily of wool. The blankets are ubiquitous throughout the country during all seasons, and worn differently by men and women.

The Morija Arts & Cultural Festival is a prominent Sesotho arts and music festival. It is held annually in the historical town of Morija, where the first missionaries arrived in 1833.

 

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