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Country Profile: Lesotho

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Fact File:



Other Cities

Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Mafeteng, Maseru, Quthing

Official languages

Southern Sotho, English

Other Languages & Dialects

Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Phuthi


Total 30,355 km2


1,795,000 (2009est)




The nation of Lesotho,  officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country in Africa, it is entirely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It was once know as Basutoland and it is currently a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.  Because it is located within the nation of South Africa, the two nations borrow heavily from one and others culture.

Spoken Dialects

Linguistically speaking Lesotho is a nation that consists of the Basotho, a Bantu-speaking people. The Kwena are the largest subgroup of the Sotho, some other Basotho subgroups include the Natal, Nguni, Batloung, Baphuthi, Bafokeng, Bataung, Bats'oeneng and the Cape Nguni. Sesotho and English languages are both the official langauge of Lesotho, however Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and Phuthi are spoken as well.

Resources and Business

The chief export of Lesotho is water, this is mainly exported to South Africa, manufacturing, agriculture, livestock and worker remittance in South Africa are other main exports. Lesotho also exports diamonds, wool, mohair, clothing, and footwear.  Two major American corporation, Levis and Russell Athletics also have facilities located in Lesotho.  Nearly half of the nation relies on animal husbandry for their income, while nearly the entire other half relies on some sort of agricultural industry for their well being.  The business of Lesotho is closely linked to that of South Africa, since it is geographically located inside the nation of South Africa.


Water and Energy

Lesotho's most valued resource is natural water, they have created the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), which began in 1986. The LHWP is designed to capture, store, and transfer water from the Orange River system to South Africa's Free State and greater Johannesburg area, which features a large concentration of South African industry, population, and agriculture.  Also Lesotho has become completely self sufficient in electric energy production and in fact, they are one of the main exporters of electricity to South Africa.  Also Lesotho has become the largest exporter of garments to the US from sub-Saharan Africa, increasing the good relations between the U.S., Lesotho and South Africa

Educational Standards

Lesotho can boast that is has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, with over 85% of the population over 15 being literate.  This is particularly impressive because education is not mandatory in Lesothos, however, the Government of Lesotho is incrementally implementing a programme for free primary education to all of its citizens.

Future Outlook

Lesotho will look to continue to grow and expand its economy in the future.  It will likely build off of its tremendous water resources and high literacy rate.  Lesotho will continue to maintain good relations with the U.S. and South Africa and will continue to be an African leader in electricity production as well as renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric.

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For other languages, please visit our Multiple Language Services Translation page.

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