|Muso or Lesotho, Kingdom
|Form of government
|Telephone area code
The Kingdom of Lesotho is located in the south of the
African continent and, with an area of 30 355 km², is
about the size of Belgium. The country is an enclave in
the middle of the Republic ofSouth Africa .
The majority of Lesotho is occupied by a high
plateau, which is an average of 2,000 to 3,000 m above
sea level and is crossed by several mountain ranges (Maloti
Mountains, Thaba, Putsoa Range, Central Range). To the
east, the country rises to the Drakensberg Mountains,
which represent the south-eastern section of the large
fringe of South Africa. Here is the highest point in the
country, the Thabana Ntlenyana at 3,482 m, which is also
the highest point in southern Africa.
In the north-west of Lesotho, the river Caledon forms
the border with South Africa, here extends a hilly strip
of land between 30 and 40 km wide (foreland,
"Lowlands"), which is between 1,200 and 2,000 m high and
the most important settlement and cultivation area
represents the country. The capital Maseru is also
located here .
The longest river in Lesotho is the Oranje, which
rises in the north-eastern border area and flows through
the country for a length of 350 km in a south-westerly
direction (total length 2,092 km). The Orange River and
its tributaries have cut canyon-like valleys up to 800 m
deep into the highlands.
Lesotho has a subtropical climate, which is mitigated
by the high altitude. In the capital Maseru in the
northwestern foreland, an average of 8 กใ C is measured
in the winter month of July, and an average of 21 กใ C in
January. Temperatures are lower in the highlands, with
an average of 17 กใ C in the summer month of January, and
temperatures in winter can drop to -12 กใ C.
Up to 2,000 mm of precipitation is measured annually
on the high plateau, and around 600 to 800 mm in the
foreland. Droughts can occur here in summer. Much of the
rain falls in the summer months (October to April),
often in the form of violent thunderstorms.
Flora and fauna
The vegetation in Lesotho is characterized by open
grasslands and mountain pastures with low shrubs. Peat
bogs occur in the highlands. Trees occur only
occasionally in the foreland (olive trees), smaller
forests (eucalyptus) are the result of afforestation
The wildlife of Lesotho has been greatly reduced by
intensive hunting. The fauna is only diverse in the
country's only protected area, the Sehlabathebe National
Park in the Drakensberg (6,800 hectares). Larger
populations of antelopes, baboons and jackals live here.
Larger mammals such as lions or zebras no longer occur.
Around 1.87 million people live in the Kingdom of
Lesotho. The population density averages 62 residents
per square kilometer, although around three quarters of
the country's area is not habitable. 70% of the total
population lives in the foreland, the degree of
urbanization is low at around 29%. By far the most
populous city is the capital Maseru, in whose
metropolitan area around 477,500 people (urban area:
around 150,000) live. Other large cities are
Teyateyaneng (approx.50,000 residents) and Mafeteng
A large part of the population belongs to the South
Sotho ethnic group, a Bantu tribe. In addition,
approximately 3,000 Europeans and Asians live in the
country. Sesotho and English are official languages.
Over 90% of the population profess Christianity, of
which about 50% are Protestants, almost 40% are
Catholics. Followers of natural religions make up about
20% of the population.
According to COUNTRYAAH,
population growth is 0.7% due to the extremely high
infection rate of the population with AIDS. Estimates
assume that around a quarter of the population carries
the HI virus. Accordingly, life expectancy is only 35
years on average. Around 85% of the Lesotho population
can read and write.
Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy, the
constitution dates from 1993. The head of state is the
monarch (since March 1996 King Letsie III), who performs
predominantly representative tasks. Executive power lies
with the Cabinet of Ministers under the leadership of
the Prime Minister (Thomas Thabane since June 2012). The
prime minister is not elected, but is always the
chairman of the majority party in the people's assembly.
The parliament consists of two chambers: the lower
house (National Assembly) with 120 deputies, who are
directly elected by the people for five years, and the
senate (senate) with a total of 33 members (22 of them
tribal chiefs by office and 11 appointed by the king).
Lesotho is divided into ten districts.
Lesotho is largely economically dependent on South
Africa, with which there is a monetary union. A large
part of the gross domestic product (GDP) comes from
remittances from the miners who emigrated to South
Africa. High foreign debt, poverty (almost half of the
Lesotho population lives below the poverty line) and
high unemployment (an estimated 45%) weigh on the
country's economy. Lesotho receives extensive economic
aid from abroad.
Around 60% of the workforce is employed in
agriculture; however, the sector only generates 7% of
GDP. Most farms serve subsistence farming. Less than 10%
of the national area is suitable as arable land.
Cultivated products include maize, millet, wheat and
legumes. Cattle breeding is carried out on the pastures
of the high plateau. The population's need for food
cannot be met. An important export good is the
high-quality merino and angora wool (from sheep or
goats) or the woolen blankets and carpets produced from
it in small businesses; The main customers are the USA
With the exception of diamond deposits, Lesotho is
poor in mineral resources. The main drivers of economic
growth in Lesotho are the textile sector and diamond
mining. The "Lesotho Highlands Water Project" has also
made water an economic factor since 1998.
Food, building materials, machinery and vehicles,
pharmaceutical products and fuels have to be imported
from Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as from China and
Since the 1980s, Lesotho has been trying to open up
the country to tourism. The focus here is on the Maloti
Mountains with a variety of hiking and horse riding
opportunities. The Afri-Ski ski area has existed in the
east of the Butha Buthe district since 2005.
The foreland in western Lesotho is well developed.
Around 1,000 km of a total of 6,000 km of roads are
paved. The capital has an international airport.
The national currency Loti is pegged 1: 1 to the
South African rand.