OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of Lesotho
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 30,355 Sq Km (11,720 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 2,182,700
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Lesotho is an enclave within the
east central region of the Republic of South Africa. It
is completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa
and the country has three geographical regions. (1.) The
Western Lowlands which consists of undulating basins and
plains that cover 25% of the land area. (2.) The cave sandstone
terrace which is an intermediate region between the highlands
and the lowlands. (3.) The Eastern Highland which include
the Maluti Mountains and Thabana-Ntlenyana, the country's
highest point. The country is drained by tributaries of
the Orange, Caledon and Tugela Rivers. Major Cities (pop.
est.); Maseru 109,400, Maputsoe 20,000 (1986). Land Use;
pastures 66%, agricultural-cultivated 11%, other 23% (1993).
CLIMATE: Lesotho has a continental climate which is characterized
by extremes in temperatures. Snow is frequent in the Eastern Highland while
the lowlands can also experience occasional snow in winter. The summer
season is from October to April with rainfall at its heaviest during January.
Average annual precipitation is 725 mm (29 inches) and thunderstorms are
common during the wet season. Average temperature ranges in Maseru are
from -3 to 17 degrees Celsius (27 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to
15 to 33 degrees Celsius (59 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Basotho who are
Bantus of southern Sotho stock and account for around 99.7% of the population.
The remainder are Zulu, Tembu and Fingo.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 60 persons per sq km (154
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 18.9% urban, 81.1% rural (1988).
Sex Distribution; 48.2% male, 51.8% female (1987). Life Expectancy at Birth;
51.5 years male, 60.5 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 41% under 15,
25% 15 to 29, 17% 30 to 44, 11% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1987).
Birth Rate; 40.8 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 12.4 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 28.4 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 100.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 43% of the population Roman
Catholic while 30% are Protestant, 11.5% are Anglican and 8% are of other
Christian denominations. The remainder follow local native tribal beliefs.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are Sesotho or Southern Sotho
and English with Sesotho spoken by virtually all the Basotho.
EDUCATION: Aged 10 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
22.9%, primary 52.8%, secondary 23.2%, higher 0.6% (1987). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 655,400 or 73.6% (1985).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1960 Britain granted Basutoland
a new constitution, which was revised in 1964 and was a major step towards
self-government. The first general election under this constitution was
held in 1965 and Moshoeshoe II became King in 1966. On Oct. 4, 1966 Basutoland
gained complete independence within the Commonwealth with Chief Lebua Jonathan
as Prime Minister. In Jan. 1974 Chief Jonathan survived a coup attempt
but was deposed by the military, led by Maj.Gen. Justin Metsino Lekhanya
in Jan. 1986. After the 1986 coup, all executive and legislative powers
were transferred to King Moshoeshoe II and all political parties were banned.
In Feb. 1990 the executive powers were assumed by Maj.-Gen. Lekhanya after
the King refused to approve the replacement of members who Maj.-Gen. Lekhanya
had removed from the Military Council. On Mar. 10, 1990 the King was sent
into exile in Britain and in Nov. 1990 Prince Mohato, the King's 27 year
old son, was sworn in as King Letsie III. On April 30, 1991 the chairman
of the Military Council was forced to resign and on May 2, 1991 Col. Elias
Tutsoane Ramaema was sworn in as the new chairman. On May 13, 1991 Col.
Ramaema announced that the legislation banning political parties was to
be repelled and that democratic elections would be held by June 1992. Also
in 1991 the country signed agreements with European banks worth US $225
million to fund its hydroelectric development. In March 1992 a Commonwealth
mission visited Lesotho and the government requested assistance from the
Commonwealth Secretariat during its return to multiparty politics. In July
1992 the exiled King, Moshoehoe II returned home after 2 years in exile.
Also in 1992 diplomatic relations were established with South Africa, the
Ivory Coast and Kenya. In Jan. 1993 the government announced multiparty
elections for March 27, 1993. The elections resulted in a landslide victory
for the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) which won all 65 of the National Assembly
seats. On April 2, 1993 Ntsu Mokhehle was inaugurated as Prime Minister
and later made a reconciliation offer to the opposition Basotho National
Party (BNP) of two seats in the Senate which was rejected.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Loti (plural; Maloti)
(M) divided into 100 Lisenti.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $1,254,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $471,900,000 (1993). Imports; M 2,992,700,000 (1994). Exports;
M 509,300,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $17,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; M -2,435,900,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 617,871
or 45.1% of total population (1993). Unemployed; 35.0% (1992).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partner is South Africa.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Asparagus, Beans, Diamonds, Livestock, Maize,
Peas, Pulses, Sorghum, Wheat.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Carpets, Craft, Food Processing,
Pharmaceuticals, Textiles, Tourism, Tractor Assembly, Tyre Retreading.
MAIN EXPORTS: Asparagus, Beans, Diamonds, Mohair, Peas, Wool.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 2 km (1 mi) (1987), passenger-km
N/A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 4,715 km (2,930 mi) (1988). Vehicles;
cars 6,363 (1986), trucks and buses 15,379 (1986). Merchant Marine; nil.
Air Transport; passenger-km 28,000,000 (17,398,000 passenger-mi) (1989),
cargo ton-km 737,000 (505,000 short ton-mi) (1989).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 6 with a total circulation
of 36,000 (1993). Radio; receivers 118,000 (1994). Television; receivers
50,000 (1994). Telephones; units 10,500 (1993).
MILITARY: 2,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 100%
army while military expenditure accounts for 3.3% (1992) of the Gross National