macrohistory & world report

Kingdom of Lesotho


Map of Lesotho

Lesotho (capital Maseru) and surrounding South Africa

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Lesotho is a least developed country in which about three-fourths of the people live in rural areas and engage in subsistence agriculture. Lesotho produces less than 20% of the nation's demand for food. Rain-fed agriculture is vulnerable to weather and climate variability; an estimated 725,500 people will require food assistance in 2012/13... 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. Government revenue depends heavily on transfers from South Africa.... Lesotho's largest private employer is the textile and garment industry."

Nicholas D. Kristof, July 1, 2012: "One set of factories we visited, belonging to the Nien Hsing Textile Company, a giant Taiwanese corporation, employs 10,000 people in Lesotho, making this its biggest operation in the world. Workers turn out bluejeans for Levi's and other American companies, and Alan Han, a senior company official, said quality is comparable to that of factories in Asia."

Economic growth rate
2013: 4.1%
2012: 4.5%
2011: 5.7%

Labor force in agriculture
2002: 86%

Unemployment rate
2002: 45%

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

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 3rd among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 13.2% of GDP



July 2014: 1 942,008

Population growth rate
2014: 0.34%

Births / deaths
2014: 25.92 / 14.91

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
2012 estimate: 23.1% (second highest)

Net migration per 1,000 inhabitants
Net loss of 7.62 migrants

Infant mortality rate
2014 estimate: 50.48 deaths per 1,000 live births
(rated 37th among 224 countries)

Life expectancy at birth:
2014: 52.65 years
(rated 211th among 223 countries, 12th worst)

Living in an urban area
2010: 27%
2008: 25%

Density in 2005: 61.5 persons per square kilometer.

Ethnic groups
Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%

Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%

Net Migration rate
2011: Net loss of 8.15 per 1,000 population.

Literacy (15 and older)
2010; males 83.3, females 95.6
2003: males 74.5, females 94.5


An enclave in South Africa. Landlocked. Mountainous. Equivalent in size to 174 by 174 kilometers, or roughly 109 by 109 miles.


Parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate and the Assembly. The Senate: 33 members consisting of 22 principal chiefs and 11 other members appointed by the ruling party. The Assembly: 120 members, 80 of them elected popular vote and 40 by proportional vote, with members elected by popular vote serving five-year terms.

Capital: Maseru

Recent History

World Factbook: "Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. The Basuto National Party ruled for the 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 Botswana 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 continue to dispute how the electoral law was applied to award proportional seats in the Assembly."

The World Factbook

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