Fast Facts

Population:
1,804,000
Capital:
Maseru; 170,000
Area:
30,355 square kilometers (11,720 square miles)
Language:
English, Sesotho, Zulu, Xhosa
Religion:
Christian, indigenous beliefs
Currency:
Loti, South African rand
Life Expectancy:
37
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $2,700
Literacy Percent:
85
Flag: Lesotho
Map: Lesotho

In the early 19th century Basotho Chief Moshoeshoe united tribes in this mountainous land surrounded by South Africa. To establish a buffer against Boer expansion, he asked the British to administer the kingdom. Lesotho became independent in 1966. In 1993 it became a constitutional monarchy. Water is Lesotho's major natural resource. Completion of a large hydropower plant in 1998 helps the economy expand through the sale of water to South Africa.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts
  • Agriculture: Corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum; livestock
  • Exports: Manufactures (clothing, footwear, road vehicles), wool, mohair

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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