Lesotho Overview

Lesotho Country and People

Lesotho, officially English Kingdom of Lesotho [ k ɪ ŋ dəm əv lə su ː tu], Sotho Muso oa Lesotho, German Kingdom of Lesotho, landlocked country in Southern Africa, completely from the territory of the Republic of South Africa enclosed with (2019) 2.1 Million residents; The capital is Maseru.

Country facts

  • Official name: Kingdom of Lesotho
  • License plate: LS
  • ISO-3166: LS, LSO (426)
  • Internet domain:.ls
  • Currency: 1 Loti (M) = 100 Lisente
  • Area: 30,360 km²
  • Population (2019): 2.1 million
  • Capital: Maseru
  • Official language (s): Sesotho, English
  • Form of government: Parliamentary monarchy in the Commonwealth
  • Administrative division: 10 districts
  • Head of State: King Letsie III. (since 7.2.1996)
  • Head of Government: Moeketsi Majoro (since May 20, 2020)
  • Religion (s) (2014): Christians (48% Protestants, 39% Catholics, 9% other Christians), 2% non-denominational, followers of traditional local religions, other / n / a
  • Time zone: Central European Time +1 hour
  • National Day: October 4th

Location and infrastructure

  • Location (geographical): South Africa
  • Position (coordinates): between 28 ° 35 ‘and 30 ° 40’ south latitude and 27 ° and 29 ° 30 ‘east longitude
  • Climate: Subtropical mountain climate
  • Highest mountain: Thabana Ntlenyana (3 482 m)
  • Road network (2011): 1,069 km (paved), 4 871 km (unpaved)


  • Annual population growth (2020): 0.2%
  • Birth rate (2020): 23.2 per 1000 residents.
  • Death rate (2020): 15.4 per 1000 residents.
  • Average age (2020): 24.7 years
  • Average life expectancy (2020): 53 years (men 53.1; women 53)
  • Age structure (2020): 31.3% younger than 15 years, 5.6% older than 65 years
  • Literacy rate (15-year-olds and older) (2015): 79.4%
  • Mobile phone contracts (pre-paid and post-paid) (2017): 114 per 100 residents
  • Internet users (2017): 29 per 100 residents


  • GDP per capita (2019): US $ 1,339
  • Total GDP (2019): $ 2.741 billion
  • GNI per capita (2019): US $ 1,360
  • Education expenditure (2018): 6.5% of GDP
  • Military expenditure (2019): 1.5% of GDP
  • Unemployment rate (15 years and older) (2019): 23.4%


Lesotho is located on the inland highlands of southern Africa. The thick basalt ceilings over the mighty Karoo series sandstone are severely cut up and partly eroded by erosion. More than 80% of the area is 1,800 m above sea level. The plateau is cut up by the Orange River and its tributaries into gorges up to 800 m deep. This opens up spectacular scenic views. The area is limited in the east by the Drakensberg with the Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest mountain in southern Africa (3 482 m above sea level), in the west by the mountain ranges Maluti (up to 3 277 m above sea level) and Thaba Putsoa (up to 3 096 m above sea level) south of it.

To the west, the highlands form the hilly foreland (lowlands) with heights of 1,200 to 2,000 m above sea level, traversed by the broad river bed of the Caledon, which forms the border with the province of Free State (Republic of South Africa). This area, about a quarter of the country’s area, is the main settlement and economic area.


In the foreland the climate is temperate with temperatures between 8 ° C in July and 21 ° C in January; 85% of the precipitation (annual mean 700–800 mm) falls in summer, mostly irregular and v. a. as heavy rain. In the mountains, temperatures drop below freezing point in winter (May – September); the precipitation (1,500 mm in the western, up to 2,000 mm in the northern mountains) then falls as snow.


Large parts of Lesotho are woodless grassy areas. The remaining trees are endangered by overgrazing and felling of firewood. The consequence of this overexploitation is sometimes profound soil erosion.


The population belongs almost exclusively (99.7%) to the Bantu people of the Sotho, and according to threergroup, 0.3% are Europeans, Asians and other minorities. Many people live on individual farms or in hamlets in the country. The proportion of the urban population is only 28%. The only urban agglomeration is the capital Maseru. The average population density is (2017) 74 residents per km 2. More than two thirds of the population live in the western foreland, while parts of the highlands are not at all or only very sparsely populated. Because of the limited employment opportunities, more than 400,000 mainly male Lesoths live as migrant workers in the Republic of South Africa.

The biggest cities in Lesotho

Largest cities (population, 2016 census)
Maseru 330 800
Maputsoe 55 500
Mohale’s Hoek 40,000
Mafeteng 39 800
Pilot 38 600

Social: Life expectancy has fallen sharply as a result of the immune deficiency disease AIDS (men 53.1 years; women 53 years). The infection rate in adults (age group 15 to 49 years) is around 25%, making it one of the highest in the world.


The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. All religious communities are legally equal. – Between 90 and 92% of the population are Christians: about 45% belong to the Catholic Church, the other half consists of followers of Protestant denominations (especially Reformed, Methodists, Pentecostal, Adventists; more than 20 denominations in total), the Anglican Church and a variety of independent churches. The Catholic Church includes the Archdiocese of Maseru with three suffragan dioceses. The largest Protestant church is the reformed »Lesotho Evangelical Church« (according to information about 16.2% of the population). The Anglican Diocese of Lesotho (Bishopric: Maseru) belongs to the Anglican Church of the Province of South Africa. Non-Christian religious minorities include Bahais, Hindus and Muslims. Traditional African religions make up 7–8% of the population.


Maseru, capital of Lesotho, on the Caledon River, 1 506 m above sea level, with (2016) 330 800 residents.

Maseru was founded in 1869.

Lesotho Country and People