Lesotho Facts: 56 Facts About Lesotho [A South African Country]

Lesotho, officially known as the Republic of Lesotho, is a country completely landlocked by South Africa. There is a total of 16 countries including Lesotho that are landlocked in Africa. With these 56 facts about Lesotho, let us uncover more information about it.

1. Lesotho was formerly known as Basutoland. An individual is called a Mosotho and the people are called Basotho.

2. Sotho and English are the official languages of the country.

3. The name of “Lesotho” roughly means the land of the people who speak Sesotho.

4. As of today, more than 40% of the population of the country is below the poverty line.

5. Lesotho is a high-altitude country, situated at an elevation of 2161 m above sea level. It is also famously known as “The Kingdom in the Sky.”

6. “Thabana Ntlenyana” at 3,482 m is the highest point in the country.

7. The junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers at 1,400 m is the lowest point in the country. It is also the highest lowest point of any country in the world.

8. Lesotho is the only country in the world entirely above 1,000 m.

9. In area, Lesotho is slightly smaller than Maryland, U.S.

10. Lesotho has a total land boundary of 1,106 km.

Flag of Lesotho

Flag of Lesotho
Flag of Lesotho. Image credit – Wikipedia

11. The increase in the population of the country is causing desertification, soil erosion, and overgrazing. Due to this, the quality of life in the country is being affected.

12. Lesotho is a mountainous country with more than 80% of the country 1,800 m above sea level.

13. Lesotho has one of the highest adult literacy rates in Africa.

14. A large chunk of its population works outside the country which is why foreign remittance plays a significant role in its economy.

15. Many women in the country also work because of poverty, due to the death of their husbands, or due to their husband’s unemployment.

16. Maseru is the capital city of Lesotho. The city is located on the Caledon River. The name of the city means “red sandstones”.

17. About 75% of the country’s population lives in rural areas, and animal herding and agriculture is their main occupation.

18. Almost 90% of the goods that are consumed in Lesotho are imported from neighboring South Africa.

19. Diamond mining is an important part of the country’s GDP and accounts for 9% of it.

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20. Kids in the country play soccer to entertain themselves and listen to music.

21. Radio is the most popular form of media in the country. The country also receives radio and television stations from neighboring South Africa.

22. The first phase of Lesotho Highland’s Water Project was officially inaugurated in 2004. This water project is of paramount importance to both Lesotho and South Africa. Lesotho also extracts electrical energy from this project with the help of hydroelectric power planet.

23. Lesotho sees 300 days of sunshine every year. Rainy season in the country falls between October and April.

24. March 11 is celebrated as “Moshoeshoe Day” in the country. This day commemorates the death of the founding father of Lesotho–Moshoeshoe I–on 11 March 1870. He was a great ambassador and a great leader who worked for the country and preserved its language, art, and culture. Learn more about this great leader with these resources: resource 1 and resource 2.

25. Lesotho is pronounced “le-soo-too.”

26. Lesotho has three rivers: the Caledon River, The Orange River, and the Tugela River. All these rivers originate from the Lesotho Mountains.

facts about Lesotho: The Katse Dam
Katse Dam, a 185m high concrete arch dam on the Malibamat’so River in Lesotho. Image credit – Wikipedia

27. The Katse Dam in Lesotho is the second largest double-curvature arch dam in Africa. It is 185 m high and 710 m in length. The total cost of the project was $8 billion and the dam was completed in 1996.

28. Water delivery from the Katse Dam officially began on 22nd January 1998. However, the majority of the water from the dam is used by South Africa that’s pays nearly $35 million to Lesotho for the water supply.

29. The country experiences harsh cold winters. And the traditional dress of the people, which is a blanket made almost entirely from wool, protects them from the freezing temperatures. These blankets often contain colorful pattern and are their cultural identity as well as a status symbol.

30. Lesotho is also home to the highest ski resort in Africa, Afriski, situated at 3050 m above sea level.

31. Lesotho’s currency the “Lesotho Loti” is not accepted in South Africa. However, on the contrary, the South African Rand is accepted freely all over Lesotho.

32. Pakalitha Mosisili, since 17 March 2015, is the current Prime Minister of Lesotho.

33. Lesotho became a constitutional monarchy in 1933.

34. Maletsunyane Falls is a 192-meter-high waterfall in Lesotho. The Tulega Falls in Africa is the second highest waterfalls in the world at 3,110 ft. Are you inquisitive about the name of the tallest waterfalls in the world? Note that, it is Angel Falls, which is located in Venezuela. However, there is some debate regarding the exact height of the Tulega Falls, which is considered by many to be more than that of the Angel Falls.

35. Lesotho has less than 2% of forest area. And 10% of the country’s land is arable.

36. The country is divided into ten districts, each of these districts are named after their principal towns.

37. At least 23% of the country’s population is affected with HIV virus and the government is taking the help of technology to combat the deadly disease.

38. In 2016, Lesotho experienced the worst drought in more than 40 years of history. People are forced to eat once a day and have to walk miles to collect water for use.

39. Sesotho was one of the first African languages to develop a written form and has an extensive literature.

Basotho hats
Basotho hats. Image via Flickr

40. The Basotho hat is a famous conical woven hat with a distinctive knot at the top. The design of these hats is also featured on the national flag of the country. (See the flag above)

41. Lesotho’s capital city–Maseru–experienced a political conflict in 1998, which resulted in the destruction of infrastructure. In the event, many historical buildings were also destroyed.

Map of Lesotho

Map of Lesotho
Map of Lesotho

42. Pap-pap or papa is the daily staple food of the people of Lesotho. This dish is a cornmeal porridge (a dish consisting of oatmeal or another meal or cereal boiled in water or milk.) The porridge is accompanied with a thick sauce made from vegetables, peas, and other chopped greens.

43. To avoid the cost of importing food from the neighboring South Africa, most families raise their own wheat, corn, cabbage, pumpkins, and peas etc.

44. Beef is the most important meat in Lesotho and the people slaughter cows on special occasions. Sheep and goats are also raised for wool, milk, and meat. Chicken provides fresh eggs that can be used in the breakfast.

45. Funerals and weddings are an expensive occasion for a Lesotho family as they have to serve delicious food to the guests and neighbors.

46. Beer and tea are quite popular in the country. Tea is often served with fried cakes while beer which is locally brewed is preferred by many households in the region.

47. Cow in Lesotho is valued above money.

48. An automobile is mostly possessed by the wealthy class of the society.

49. The legal system of the country is based on the English common law and the Roman-Dutch law.

50. Lesotho is a homogeneous country. More than 98% of the people of the country belong to the Basotho ethnic group.

51. Lesotho is also associated with a dinosaur–Lesothosaurus—which evolved some 200 million years ago in this region. Lesothosaurus means “lizard from Lesotho.” It was 1 m long, herbivore and a bipedal. The name was suggested by paleontologist Peter Galton in 1978.

52. Lesotho is classified as one of the Least Developed Countries in the world.

53. The literacy rate for women in the region is higher than that of the men. Men are mostly occupied in livestock and subsistence farming from a young age.

54. In 1868, Lesotho became an official British protectorate.

55. People living in rural and mountainous regions live in huts called rondavels. Walls of these huts are made from stone and mud while the roofs are built from the grass. Those who live in towns have houses with concrete walls and roofs covered tin.

The fact file: A house in Lesotho made from stones, mud and grass.
A house in Lesotho made from stones, mud and grass. Image credit – Earle Klosterman

56. Because of its natural abundance, water in the country is known as “white gold.”

Quick facts about Lesotho

Independence4 October 1966 (from the UK)
Capital CityMaseru
29°28′S 27°56′E
Largest CityMaseru
29°28′S 27°56′E
Area30,355 sq km
Population1,953,070 (2016)
Official LanguageSotho and English
National Anthem"Lesotho fatse la bo ntat'a rona" (Lesotho, Land of Our Fathers)
ReligionChristianity and others
BordersCompletely landlocked by South Africa
CurrencyLesotho loti (LSL)
Life Expectancy (2016)49.70 (2104 est.)
Industriesfood, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction, tourism
Exports$851.6 million (2016 est.)
manufactures (clothing, footwear), wool and mohair, food and live animals, electricity, water, diamonds
Imports$1.688 billion (2016 est.)
food; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products
GDP - per capita (PPP) (est. 2016)$3,100 (2016 est.)
Birth rate25.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate14.9 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratio1.03 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Government typeparliamentary constitutional monarchy
National symbol(s)mokorotio (Basotho hat); national colors: blue, white, green, black
Terrainmostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains
Climatetemperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers
Agricultural land76.1%
Natural resourceswater, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone
Time ZoneSAST (UTC+2)
Internet country code.ls
Calling Code+266
Drives on theLeft