Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Lesotho

Lesotho

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Lesotho'
Start a new discussion about 'Lesotho'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Lesotho officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave
Enclave and exclave
In political geography, an enclave is a territory whose geographical boundaries lie entirely within the boundaries of another territory.An exclave, on the other hand, is a territory legally or politically attached to another territory with which it is not physically contiguous.These are two...

, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. It is just over 30000 km² (11,583 sq mi) in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru
Maseru
Maseru is the capital of Lesotho. It is also the capital of the Maseru District. Located on the Caledon River, bordering South Africa, Maseru is Lesotho's only sizable city, with a population of approximately 227,880 . The city was established as a police camp and assigned as the capital after the...

. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population live below the international poverty line
Poverty threshold
The poverty threshold, or poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country...

 of US$ 1.25 a day.

History



The earliest known inhabitants of the area were Khoisan
Khoisan
Khoisan is a unifying name for two ethnic groups of Southern Africa, who share physical and putative linguistic characteristics distinct from the Bantu majority of the region. Culturally, the Khoisan are divided into the foraging San and the pastoral Khoi...

 hunter-gatherers. They were largely replaced by Wasja-speaking tribes during Bantu migrations
Bantu expansion
The Bantu expansion or the Bantu Migration was a millennia-long series of migrations of speakers of the original proto-Bantu language group...

. The Sotho-Tswana
Sotho-Tswana
The Sotho–Tswana is the most commonly accepted name for a group of communities which speak Bantu languages living primarily in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.-Language:...

 people colonized the general region of South Africa between the 3rd and 11th centuries.

The present Lesotho (then called Basutoland) emerged as a single polity
Body politic
A polity is a state or one of its subordinate civil authorities, such as a province, prefecture, county, municipality, city, or district. It is generally understood to mean a geographic area with a corresponding government. Thomas Hobbes considered bodies politic in this sense in Leviathan...

 under king Moshoeshoe I
Moshoeshoe I
Moshoeshoe was born at Menkhoaneng in the Northern part of present-day Lesotho. He was the first son of Mokhachane, a minor chief of the Bamokoteli lineage- a branch of the Koena clan. In his early childhood, he helped his father gain power over some other smaller clans. At the age of 34...

 in 1822. Moshoeshoe, a son of Mokhachane, a minor chief of the Bakoteli lineage, formed his own clan and became a chief around 1804. Between 1821 and 1823, he and his followers settled at the Butha-Buthe
Butha-Buthe
Butha-Buthe is the capital city or camptown of the Butha-Buthe District in Lesotho. It has a population of approximately 10,000 . It is named for Butha-Buthe Mountain to the north of the town, which King Moshoeshoe I used as his a fortification and headquarters from 1821 to 1823, during his war...

 Mountain, joining with former adversaries in resistance against the Lifaqane
Mfecane
Mfecane , also known by the Sesotho name Difaqane or Lifaqane, was a period of widespread chaos and warfare among indigenous tribes in southern Africa during the period between 1815 to about 1840....

 associated with the reign of Shaka Zulu from 1818 to 1828.

Subsequent evolution of the state hinged on conflicts between British and Dutch colonists leaving the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 following its seizure from the French-occupied Dutch by the British in 1795, and subsequently associated with the Orange River Sovereignty
Orange River Sovereignty
The Orange River Sovereignty was a short-lived political entity between the Orange and Vaal rivers in southern Africa. In 1854, it became the Orange Free State, and is now the Free State province of South Africa.-History:...

 and subsequent Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

. Missionaries invited by Moshoeshoe I, Thomas Arbousset, Eugène Casalis and Constant Gosselin from the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society
Paris Evangelical Missionary Society
The Paris Evangelical Missionary Society , also known as the SMEP or Mission de Paris, was a Protestant missionary association created in 1822...

, placed at Morija
Morija
Morija is a town in western Lesotho, located 35 kilometres south of the capital, Maseru. Morija is one of Lesotho’s most important historical and cultural sites, known as the Selibeng sa Thut — the Well-Spring of Learning. It was the site of the first French Protestant mission in Lesotho, founded...

, developed orthography and printed works in the Sotho language between 1837 and 1855. Casalis, acting as translator and providing advice on foreign affairs, helped to set up diplomatic channels and acquire guns for use against the encroaching Europeans and the Korana
Korana
The Korana is a river in central Croatia and west Bosnia and Herzegovina. The river has a total length of and watershed area of .It rises in the eastern parts of Lika, creates the world-famous Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Downstream from Plitvice Lakes the Korana river forms a 25...

people.

Boer
Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

 trekkers from the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 showed up on the western borders of Basutoland
Basutoland
Basutoland or officially the Territory of Basutoland, was a British Crown colony established in 1884 after the Cape Colony's inability to control the territory...

 and claimed land rights, beginning with Jan de Winnaar, who settled in the Matlakeng area in May–June 1838. As more farmers were moving into the area they tried to colonise the land between the two rivers, even north of the Caledon
Caledon River
The Caledon River is located in south-east Africa, rising in the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho. Origin in the former bantustan of QwaQwa, near the border with Lesotho, southwest of Witsieshoek. It then flows south-west, marking the border with South Africa and Lesotho before entering South...

, claiming that it had been abandoned by the Sotho people. Moshoeshoe subsequently signed a treaty with the British Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Thomas Napier
George Thomas Napier
Lieutenant-General Sir George Thomas Napier KCB entered the British army in 1800, and served with distinction under Sir John Moore and the Duke Wellington in the Peninsula--and lost his right arm at the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo, where, as a Major in the 52nd Foot, he led the Light Division's...

 that annexed the Orange River Sovereignty that many Boers had settled. These outraged Boers were suppressed in a brief skirmish in 1848. In 1851 a British force was defeated by the Sotho army at Kolonyama, touching off an embarrassing war for the British. After repulsing another British attack in 1852, Moshoeshoe sent an appeal to the British commander that settled the dispute diplomatically, then defeated the Tlokoa in 1853.

In 1854 the British pulled out of the region, and in 1858 Moshoeshoe fought a series of wars with the Boers in the Free State-Basotho War
Free State-Basotho War
Free State-Basotho Wars were a series of wars fought between Moshoeshoe I, the ruler of the Basotho kingdom and the Orange Free State of the Boers. These can be divided into the Senekal's War of 1858 and the Seqiti War, which included two conflicts, in 1865−1866 and 1867−1868, separated by a short...

, losing a great portion of the western lowlands. The last war in 1867 ended when Moshoeshoe appealed to Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

, who agreed to make Basutoland
Basutoland
Basutoland or officially the Territory of Basutoland, was a British Crown colony established in 1884 after the Cape Colony's inability to control the territory...

 a British protectorate in 1868. In 1869, the British signed a treaty at Aliwal North
Aliwal North
Aliwal North is a town in central South Africa on the Orange River, Eastern Cape Province. Aliwal North is the seat of the Maletswai Local Municipality which falls within the Ukhahlamba District Municipality....

 with the Boers that defined the boundaries of Basutoland
Basutoland
Basutoland or officially the Territory of Basutoland, was a British Crown colony established in 1884 after the Cape Colony's inability to control the territory...

 and later Lesotho, which by ceding the western territories effectively reduced Moshoeshoe's kingdom to half its previous size.

Following the cession in 1869, the British initially transferred functions from Moshoeshoe's capital in Thaba Bosiu
Thaba Bosiu
Thaba Bosiu is a sandstone plateau with an area of approximately 2 km2 and a height of 1,804 meters above sea level. It is located between the Orange and Caledon Rivers in the Maseru District of Lesotho, 24 km east of the country's capital Maseru....

 to a police camp on the northwest border, Maseru
Maseru
Maseru is the capital of Lesotho. It is also the capital of the Maseru District. Located on the Caledon River, bordering South Africa, Maseru is Lesotho's only sizable city, with a population of approximately 227,880 . The city was established as a police camp and assigned as the capital after the...

, until administration of Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 in 1871. Moshoeshoe died on March 11, 1870, marking the end of the traditional era and the beginning of the colonial era, and was buried at Thaba Bosiu. During their rule between 1871 and 1884, Basutoland was treated similarly to territories that had been forcefully annexed, much to the chagrin of the Basotho. This led to the Gun War
Gun War
The Gun War also known as the Basuto War was an 1880-1881 conflict in the British territory of Basutoland in Southern Africa, fought between Cape Colony forces and rebellious Basotho chiefs over tribal rights...

 in 1881. In 1884, Basutoland was restored its status as a Crown colony
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

, with Maseru again its capital, but remained under direct rule by a governor, though effective internal power was wielded by traditional chiefs.

Basutoland gained its independence from Britain and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966.

In January 1970 the ruling Basotho National Party
Basotho National Party
The Basotho National Party is a political party in Lesotho, founded in the 1959 as the Basutoland National Party by Leabua Jonathan. He was Prime Minister from 1965 until the coup of 1986....

 (BNP) lost the first post-independence general elections, with 23 seats to the Basutoland Congress Party's 36. Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan
Leabua Jonathan
Joseph Leabua Jonathan was the second Prime Minister of Lesotho. He succeeded Chief Sekhonyana Nehemia Maseribane following a by-election and held that post from 1965 to 1986.-Early life and career:...

 refused to cede power to the Basotho Congress Party
Basotho Congress Party
The Basutoland Congress Party is a pan-africanist and left-wing political party in Lesotho, led by Ntsukunyane Mphanya.The Basutoland African Congress was founded in 1952 by Ntsu Mokhehle and Potlako Leballo. The party was renamed the Basutoland Congress Party in 1957 and retained this name after...

 (BCP), declared himself Tona Kholo (Sesotho translation of prime minister), and imprisoned the BCP leadership.

BCP began a rebellion and then received training in Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 for its Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) under the pretense of being Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) soldiers of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). Deprived of arms and supplies by the Sibeko
David Sibeko
David Maphgumzana Sibeko , was known as the "Malcolm X of South Africa" and began his political career as a journalist for the black South African Magazine Drum. During his tenure with that magazine, he became a leading figure within the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania...

 faction of the PAC in 1978, the 178-strong LLA was rescued from their Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

n base by the financial assistance of a Maoist
Maoism
Maoism, also known as the Mao Zedong Thought , is claimed by Maoists as an anti-Revisionist form of Marxist communist theory, derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong . Developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely applied as the political and military guiding...

 PAC officer but launched the guerrilla war with only a handful of old weapons. The main force was defeated in northern Lesotho and later guerrillas launched sporadic but usually ineffectual attacks. The campaign was severely compromised when BCP's leader, Ntsu Mokhehle
Ntsu Mokhehle
Ntsu Mokhehle was a Lesotho politician. He served as Prime Minister of the country from 2 April 1993 to 17 August 1994 and from 14 September 1994 to 29 May 1998.Mokhehle was born in Teyateyaneng...

, went to Pretoria
Pretoria
Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province, South Africa. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the executive and de facto national capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital.Pretoria is...

. In the early 1980s, several Basotho who sympathized with the exiled BCP were threatened with death and attacked by the government of Leabua Jonathan
Leabua Jonathan
Joseph Leabua Jonathan was the second Prime Minister of Lesotho. He succeeded Chief Sekhonyana Nehemia Maseribane following a by-election and held that post from 1965 to 1986.-Early life and career:...

. In September 1981 the family of Benjamin Masilo was attacked. A few days later, Edgar Mahlomola Motuba was taken from his home and murdered.

The BNP ruled from 1966 till January 1970. What later ensued was a "de facto" government led by Dr Leabua Jonathan until 1986 when a military coup
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 forced it out of office. The Military Council that came to power granted executive powers to King Moshoeshoe II, who was until then a ceremonial monarch. But in 1987 the King was forced into exile after coming up with a six-page memorandum on how he wanted the Lesotho's constitution to be, which would have given him more executive powers had the military government agreed. His son was installed as King Letsie III
Letsie III of Lesotho
Letsie III is the reigning king of Lesotho. He succeeded his father, Moshoeshoe II, when the latter was forced into exile in 1990. His father was briefly restored in 1995 but soon died in a car crash in early 1996, and Letsie became king again...

.

The chairman of the military junta
Military junta
A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

, Major General Justin Metsing Lekhanya, was ousted in 1991 and replaced by Major General Elias Phisoana Ramaema
Elias Phisoana Ramaema
Major-General Elias Phisoana Ramaema was Chairman of the Military Council and Council of Ministers of Lesotho from 2 May 1991 to 2 April 1993.-References:...

, who handed over power to a democratically elected government of the BCP in 1993. Moshoeshoe II returned from exile in 1992 as an ordinary citizen. After the return to democratic government, King Letsie III tried unsuccessfully to persuade the BCP government to reinstate his father (Moshoeshoe II) as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

.
In August 1994, Letsie III staged a military-backed coup that deposed the BCP government, after the BCP government refused to reinstate his father, Moshoeshoe II, according to Lesotho's constitution. The new government did not receive full international recognition. Member states of the Southern African Development Community
Southern African Development Community
The Southern African Development Community is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 15 southern African states...

 (SADC) engaged in negotiations to reinstate the BCP government. One of the conditions Letsie III put forward for this was that his father should be re-installed as head of state. After protracted negotiations, the BCP government was reinstated and Letsie III abdicated in favor of his father in 1995, but he ascended the throne again when Moshoeshoe II died at the age of fifty-seven in a road accident, when his car plunged off a mountain road during the early hours of 15 January 1996. According to a government statement, Moshoeshoe had set out at 1 a.m. to visit his cattle at Matsieng and was returning to Maseru
Maseru
Maseru is the capital of Lesotho. It is also the capital of the Maseru District. Located on the Caledon River, bordering South Africa, Maseru is Lesotho's only sizable city, with a population of approximately 227,880 . The city was established as a police camp and assigned as the capital after the...

 through the Maluti Mountains when his car left the road.

In 1997, the ruling BCP split over leadership disputes. Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle
Ntsu Mokhehle
Ntsu Mokhehle was a Lesotho politician. He served as Prime Minister of the country from 2 April 1993 to 17 August 1994 and from 14 September 1994 to 29 May 1998.Mokhehle was born in Teyateyaneng...

 formed a new party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy
Lesotho Congress for Democracy
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy is a political party in Lesotho.In 1997, Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle left the Basutoland Congress Party to form with his faction the new Lesotho Congress for Democracy. The new party won the 1998 elections with 60.7% of the popular vote and 79 out of 80 seats....

 (LCD), and was followed by a majority of Members of Parliament, which enabled him to form a new government. Pakalitha Mosisili
Pakalitha Mosisili
Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili has been the Prime Minister of Lesotho since May 29, 1998. He led his party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy , to a near-total victory in the 1998 election, and under his leadership the party also won majorities in the 2002 and 2007 elections...

 succeeded Mokhehle as party leader and the LCD won the general elections in 1998. Although the elections were pronounced free and fair by local and international observers and a subsequent special commission appointed by SADC, the opposition political parties
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 rejected the results.

Opposition protests in the country intensified, culminating in a peaceful demonstration outside the royal palace in August 1998. Exact details of what followed are greatly disputed, both in Lesotho and South Africa. While the Botswana Defence Force
Botswana Defence Force
The Botswana Defence Force is the military of Botswana. It was formed in 1977 and has approximately 9,000 members. The commander is Lieutenant General Tebogo Masire. The commander in chief is the President of Botswana...

 troops were welcomed, tensions with South African National Defence Force
South African National Defence Force
The South African National Defence Force is the armed forces of South Africa. The military as it exists today was created in 1994, following South Africa's first post-apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution...

 troops were high, resulting in fighting. Incidences of sporadic rioting intensified when South African troops hoisted a South African flag over the Royal Palace. By the time the SADC forces withdrew in May 1999, much of Maseru lay in ruins, and the southern provincial capital towns of Mafeteng
Mafeteng
Mafeteng is a city in Lesotho, and the Camptown of the district of Mafeteng. It is located about 76 kilometres south of the country's capital, Maseru and has a population of approximately 61,000...

 and Mohale's Hoek
Mohale's Hoek
Mohale's Hoek is the capital city of Mohale's Hoek District in Lesotho. It had a population of approximately 24,992 in 2006.-History:Mohale's Hoek had first been inhabited by the San who were found there by the Baphuthi around 1795. The Baphuthi settled in Kubake near the present Likuena High...

 had seen the loss of over a third of their commercial real estate. A number of South Africans and Basotho also died in the fighting.

An Interim Political Authority (IPA), charged with reviewing the electoral structure in the country, was created in December 1998. The IPA devised a proportional electoral system to ensure that the opposition would be represented in the National Assembly. The new system retained the existing 80 elected Assembly seats, but added 40 seats to be filled on a proportional basis. Elections were held under this new system in May 2002, and the LCD won again, gaining 54% of the vote. But for the first time, opposition political parties won significant numbers of seats, and despite some irregularities and threats of violence from Major General Lekhanya, Lesotho experienced its first peaceful election. Nine opposition parties now hold all 40 of the proportional seats, with the BNP having the largest share (21). The LCD has 79 of the 80 constituency-based seats. Although its elected members participate in the National Assembly, the BNP has launched several legal challenges to the elections, including a recount; none have been successful.

Politics



The Lesotho Government is a parliamentary or constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

. The Prime Minister, Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili, is head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 and has executive authority. The king serves a largely ceremonial function; he no longer possesses any executive authority and is prohibited from actively participating in political initiatives.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) controls a majority in the National Assembly
National Assembly of Lesotho
The National Assembly of Lesotho is the lower chamber of the country's bicameral Parliament.The current National Assembly, formed following elections held on 17 February 2007, has a total of 120 members. 80 members are elected in single member constituencies using the simple majority system...

 (the lower house of parliament) with 62 seats. The All Basotho Convention
All Basotho Convention
The All Basotho Convention is a political party in Lesotho. The party was formed in October 2006 and is headed by Tom Thabane, a former minister in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy led government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili....

 (ABC), a party formed shortly before the poll under the leadership of former foreign minister Tom Thabane
Tom Thabane
Tom Motsoahae Thabane is a Basotho politician, a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Lesotho, and the leader of the opposition All Basotho Convention....

, is the main opposition. The Basotho National Party (BNP), the Alliance of Congress Parties (ACP) and the newly formed Basotho Batho Democratic Party (BBDP) and the Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP) Lesotho are among the other five opposition parties represented.

The ABC has brought a dramatic change in the Lesotho's politics, because of its having won 17, mainly urban, seats out of 80 Constituency seats, only a few months after it was formed in September 2006. Of the 40 Proportional Representation (PR) seats, the National Independent Party (NIP), a parliamentary ally of the ruling party, has the highest number of seats at 21. The Lesotho Workers Party has the next highest number of proportional seats with 10. The BNP is the opposition party with the biggest loss in the February 2007 election with its representation reduced from 21 to 3 seats. A total of 12 political parties are represented in the 120-member parliament.

The upper house of parliament, called the Senate
Senate of Lesotho
The Senate of Lesotho is the upper chamber of the country's bicameral Parliament.The current Senate has a total of 33 members. 22 are hereditary Principal chiefs and 11 are nominated by the King. Members serve five-year terms....

, is composed of twenty-two principal chiefs whose membership is hereditary, and eleven appointees of the king, acting on the advice of the prime minister.

The constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 provides for an independent judicial system, made up of the High Court, the Court of Appeal, Magistrate's Courts, and traditional courts that exist predominantly in rural areas. All but one of the Justices on the Court of Appeal are South African jurists. There is no trial by jury; rather, judges make rulings alone, or, in the case of criminal trials, with two other judges as observers.

The constitution also protects basic civil liberties
Civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

, including freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

, freedom of association
Freedom of association
Freedom of association is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests....

, freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

, freedom of peaceful assembly
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests...

 and freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

. Lesotho was ranked 12th out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries in the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance
Ibrahim Index of African Governance
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance is an attempt to statistically monitor African governance levels throughout all the countries of Africa. Funded and led by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, it uses a number of different indicators to compile an overall ranking of countries, which is designed to be...

.

However there is a growing movement, the People's Charter Movement, calling for the practical annexation of the country by South Africa due to the AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 epidemic which infects a third of the population. The country faces high unemployment, economic collapse, a weak currency and poor travel documents restricting their movement. An African Union report called for economic integration of Lesotho with South Africa but stopped short of suggesting annexation. In May 2010 the Charter Movement delivered a petition to the South African High Commission
High Commissioner (Commonwealth)
In the Commonwealth of Nations, a High Commissioner is the senior diplomat in charge of the diplomatic mission of one Commonwealth government to another.-History:...

 requesting integration. South Africa's home affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa rejected the idea that Lesotho should be treated as a special case. Quoting, "It is a sovereign country like South Africa. We sent envoys to our neighbours – Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho – before we enforced the passport rule. When you travel from Britain to South Africa, don't you expect to use a passport?"

Districts




For administrative purposes, Lesotho is divided into ten districts
Districts of Lesotho
||The Kingdom of Lesotho is divided into ten districts, each headed by a district administrator. Each district has a capital known as a camptown. The districts are further subdivided into 80 constituencies, which consist of 129 local community councils. Most of the districts are named after their...

, each headed by a district administrator. Each district has a capital known as a camptown.

The districts are further subdivided into 80 constituencies, which consist of 129 local community councils
Community councils of Lesotho
The districts of Lesotho are further divided into constituencies, which are in turn divided into community councils.-Functions:Functions of a community council:-Berea District:-Butha-Buthe District:-Leribe District:-Mafeteng District:...

.

Geography





Lesotho covers 30355 km² (11,720 sq mi). It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1000 metres (3,281 ft) in elevation. Its lowest point of 1400 metres (4,593 ft) is thus the highest in the world. Over 80% of the country lies above 1800 metres (5,906 ft). Lesotho is also the southernmost landlocked country in the world and is entirely surrounded by the country of South Africa. It lies between latitudes 28°
28th parallel south
The 28th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 28 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

 and 31°S
31st parallel south
The 31st parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 31 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

, and longitudes 27°
27th meridian east
The meridian 27° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 30°E
30th meridian east
The meridian 30° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Turkey, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

.

Climate



Because of its altitude, Lesotho remains cooler throughout the year than other regions at the same latitude. Most of the rain falls as summer thunderstorm
Thunderstorm
A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm, a lightning storm, thundershower or simply a storm is a form of weather characterized by the presence of lightning and its acoustic effect on the Earth's atmosphere known as thunder. The meteorologically assigned cloud type associated with the...

s. Maseru
Maseru
Maseru is the capital of Lesotho. It is also the capital of the Maseru District. Located on the Caledon River, bordering South Africa, Maseru is Lesotho's only sizable city, with a population of approximately 227,880 . The city was established as a police camp and assigned as the capital after the...

 and surrounding lowlands often reach 30 °C (86 °F) in summer. Winters can be cold with the lowlands getting down to -7 °C and the highlands to -18 °C at times. Snow is common in the highlands between May and September; the higher peaks can experience snowfalls year-round.

Economy



Lesotho's economy is based on diamonds exported all over the world and water sold to South Africa, manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, and to some extent the earnings of laborers employed in South Africa. Lesotho also exports wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

, mohair
Mohair
Mohair usually refers to a silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair of the Angora goat. The word "mohair" was adopted into English before 1570 from the Arabic: mukhayyar, a type of haircloth, literally 'choice', from khayyara, 'he chose'. Mohair fiber is approximately 25-45 microns in...

, clothing
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

, and footwear
Footwear
Footwear consists of garments worn on the feet, for fashion, protection against the environment, and adornment. Being barefoot is commonly associated with poverty, but some cultures chose not to wear footwear at least in some situations....

. One of Levi's jeans manufacturing facilities is located there. Also in Lesotho is one of Russell Athletic plants. Lesotho is geographically surrounded by South Africa and economically integrated with it as well. The majority of households subsist on farming or migrant labor, primarily miners who remain in South Africa for 3 to 9 months. The western lowlands form the main agricultural zone. Almost 50% of the population earns some income through crop cultivation or animal husbandry, with over half the country's income coming from the agricultural sector.


Water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 and diamonds are Lesotho's significant natural resources. Water is utilized through the 21-year, multi-billion-dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project
Lesotho Highlands Water Project
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is an ongoing water supply project with a hydropower component, developed in partnership between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa. It comprises a system of several large dams and tunnels throughout Lesotho and South Africa. In Lesotho, it involves the...

 (LHWP), under the authority of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority. The project commenced in 1986. The LHWP is designed to capture, store, and transfer water from the Orange River
Orange River
The Orange River , Gariep River, Groote River or Senqu River is the longest river in South Africa. It rises in the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean...

 system to South Africa's Free State and greater Johannesburg area, which features a large concentration of South African industry, population, and agriculture. Completion of the first phase of the project has made Lesotho almost completely self-sufficient in the production of electricity and generated approximately $40 million (R300 million or 300 million Maloti) annually from the sale of electricity and water to South Africa. The World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, African Development Bank
African Development Bank
The African Development Bank Group is a development bank established in 1964 with the intention of promoting economic and social development in Africa...

, European Investment Bank
European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank is the European Union's long-term lending institution established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome. A policy-driven bank, the EIB supports the EU’s priority objectives, especially European integration and the development of economically weak regions...

, and many other bilateral donors financed the project. Lesotho has taken advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act
African Growth and Opportunity Act
In May 2000, the U.S. Congress approved legislation known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA . The purpose of this legislation was to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region...

 (AGOA) to become the largest exporter of garments to the US from sub-Saharan Africa. Exports totaled over $320 million in 2002. Employment reached over 50,000, marking the first time that manufacturing sector workers outnumbered government employees.

In 1957, a South African adventurer, colonel Jack Scott, accompanied by a young man named Keith Whitelock, set out prospecting for diamonds. They found their diamond mine at 3,100 m altitude, on top of the Maluti Mountains in northeastern Lesotho, some 70 km from Mokhotlong at Letseng. In 1967, a fabulous 601 carats (120.2 g) diamond (Lesotho Brown) was discovered in the mountains by a Mosotho woman. In August 2006, a 603 carats (120.6 g) white diamond (Lesotho Promise) was discovered at the Letseng-la-Terae mine. Another 478 carats (95.6 g) diamond was discovered at the same location in 2008.

The official currency is the loti
Lesotho loti
The loti is the currency of the Kingdom of Lesotho. It is subdivided into 100 lisente . It is pegged to the South African rand on a 1:1 basis through the Common Monetary Area, and both are accepted as legal tender within Lesotho. The loti was first issued in 1966, albeit as a non-circulating...

 (plural: maloti), but can be used interchangeably with the South African rand. Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, and South Africa also form a common currency and exchange control area known as the Common Monetary Area
Common Monetary Area
The Common Monetary Area links South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland into a monetary union. It is allied to the Southern African Customs Union . Namibia automatically became a member upon independence, but withdrew with the introduction of the Namibian dollar in 1993...

 (CMA). The loti is at par with the rand, while one hundred lisente equal one loti.

Lesotho is a member of the Southern African Customs Union
Southern African Customs Union
The Southern African Customs Union is a customs union among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.-History:SACU is the oldest still existing customs union in the world...

 (SACU), in which tariffs have been eliminated on the trade of goods between other member countries Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

, Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, and Swaziland
Swaziland
Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland , and sometimes called Ngwane or Swatini, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique...

.

Lesotho has received economic aid from a variety of sources, including the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.

Social issues


Significant levels of child labor exist in Lesotho, and the country is in the process of formulating an Action Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (APEC). According to the UN, Lesotho has the highest rape rate of any county(91.6 out of 100,000 people)http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap_rat-crime-rape-rate

Demographics




Population


Lesotho has a population of approximately 2,067,000. The population distribution of Lesotho is 25% urban and 75% rural. However, it is estimated that annual increase of urban population is 3.5%. Population density is lower in the highlands than in the western lowlands. Although the majority of the population—60.2%—is between 15 and 64 years of age, Lesotho has a substantial youth population numbering around 34.8%. The annual population growth rate is 0.116%.

Ethnic groups and languages


Lesotho's ethno-linguistic structure consists almost entirely of the Basotho
Basotho
The ancestors of the Sotho people have lived in southern Africa since around the fifth century. The Sotho nation emerged from the accomplished diplomacy of Moshoeshoe I who gathered together disparate clans of Sotho–Tswana origin that had dispersed across southern Africa in the early 19th century...

, a Bantu-speaking people: an estimate of 99.7% of the people identify as Basotho. Other ethnic groups include Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

ans, numbering in the thousands, and an estimated 5,000 Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

. Basotho subgroups include the Bakuena (Kuena), Batloung (the Tlou), Baphuthi (the Phuti), Bafokeng, Bataung (the Tau), Batšoeneng (the Tšoene), Matebele, etc.

The main language, Sesotho (or Sotho), is also the first official and administrative language, and it is what Basotho speak on an ordinary basis. English is the other official and administrative language.

Religion



The population of Lesotho is estimated to be around 90% Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Lesotho Protestants represent 45% of the population (Evangelicals
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 26%, and Anglican
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 and other Protestants groups an additional 19%), Roman Catholics
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 represent 45 percent of the population. Muslims
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, Hindus
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Buddhists
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Baha'i
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, and members of traditional indigenous religions comprise the remaining 10% of the population.

Education and literacy



An estimated 85% of the population 15 and over is literate, according to recent estimates. As such, Lesotho boasts one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, in part because Lesotho invests over 12% of its GDP in education. Contrary to most countries, in Lesotho female literacy (94.5%) is higher than male literacy. According to a study by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality in 2000, 37% of grade 6 pupils in Lesotho (average age 14 years) are at or above reading level 4, "Reading for Meaning". A pupil at this level of literacy can read ahead or backwards through various parts of text to link and interpret information. Although education is not compulsory, the Government of Lesotho is incrementally implementing a program for free primary education.

Despite having a highly literate population Lesotho's residents struggle to access vital services, such as healthcare, travel and educational resources as according to the International Telecommunication Union
International Telecommunication Union
The International Telecommunication Union is the specialized agency of the United Nations which is responsible for information and communication technologies...

 only 3.4% of the population use the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

. A service from Econet Telecom Lesotho
Telecom Lesotho
Econet Telecom Lesotho is a telephone, Internet service provider and cellphone company in Lesotho.In 2007 Telecom Lesotho together with Econet Lesotho emerge to form one company called Econet Telecom Lesotho The company publishes an online telephone directory and operates a Web portal in...

 expanded the country’s access to email
Email
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...

 via entry level, low end mobile phone
Mobile phone
A mobile phone is a device which can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link whilst moving around a wide geographic area. It does so by connecting to a cellular network provided by a mobile network operator...

s and consequently improved access to educational information. The African Library Project
African Library Project
The African Library Project is an all-volunteer organization that starts libraries in rural Africa. U.S. volunteers organize book drives and ship books to a library in Africa. ALP partners with governmental and non-governmental organizations in sub-Saharan Africa...

 works to establish school and village libraries in partnership with US Peace Corps Lesotho and the Butha Buthe District of Education.

HIV/AIDS



Lesotho is severely afflicted by HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

/AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

. According to recent estimates, the prevalence
Prevalence
In epidemiology, the prevalence of a health-related state in a statistical population is defined as the total number of cases of the risk factor in the population at a given time, or the total number of cases in the population, divided by the number of individuals in the population...

 is about 23.2%, one of the highest in the world. In urban areas, about 50% of women under 40 have HIV. Lesotho Bureau of Statistics stated that in 2001 life expectancy was estimated at 48 years for men and 56 for women. Recent statistics estimate about 37 years. According to the CIA's
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 World Factbook, the average life expectancy is 41.18 for men and 39.54 for women.

The government of Lesotho was initially slow to recognize the scale of the crisis, and its efforts to date in combating the spread of the disease have had limited success. In 1999, the government finalized its Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS, a diagram for addressing the education, prevention, counseling, and treatment needs of the populace. In late 2003, the government announced that it was forming a new National AIDS Commission to coordinate society-wide anti-AIDS activities. Also in 2003 the government hosted a SADC Extraordinary Summit on HIV/AIDS.

In 2005, programs for the distribution of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) were initiated. One such program is in Hlotse
Hlotse
Hlotse is an important market town in Lesotho. It is situated on the Hlotse River, near the South African border. The town was founded in 1876 by a British missionary, Reverend John Widdicombe. It was a colonial center until Lesotho gained its independence...

, Leribe
Leribe District
Leribè is a district of Lesotho. It has an area of 2,828 km² and a population in 2006 of approximately 298,352. Hlotse is the capital or camptown of the district. The district has one additional town, namely Maputsoe and Matukeng.-Geography:...

 at Tsepong Clinic which is part of Motebang Hospital. However, such programs remain limited in resources and have relatively few participants.

The government has started a proactive program called "Know your status" to test everyone in the country who wants to be tested for HIV. The program is funded by the Clinton Foundation
Clinton Foundation
The William J. Clinton Foundation is a foundation established by former President of the United States Bill Clinton with the stated mission to "strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence." The Foundation focuses on four critical areas:...

 and started in June 2006. Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and Microsoft
Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

 chairman Bill Gates
Bill Gates
William Henry "Bill" Gates III is an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, and author. Gates is the former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen...

 visited Lesotho in July 2006 to assess its fight against AIDS.

The Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA) is an industry-wide program providing prevention and treatment, including ARVs when these are necessary, for the 46,000 mainly women workers in the Lesotho apparel industry. It was launched in May 2006. The program is helping to combat two of the key drivers of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: poverty and gender inequality. Surveys within the industry by ALAFA show that 43% of employers have HIV.

Foreign relations




Lesotho's geographic location makes it extremely vulnerable to political and economic developments in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. It is a member of many regional economic organizations, including the Southern African Development Community
Southern African Development Community
The Southern African Development Community is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 15 southern African states...

 (SADC), and the Southern African Customs Union
Southern African Customs Union
The Southern African Customs Union is a customs union among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.-History:SACU is the oldest still existing customs union in the world...

 (SACU). It is also active in the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN), the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

, the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

, the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, and many other international organizations.

Prince Seeiso Hirohr Seeiso is the present High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the Court of St. James's
Court of St. James's
The Court of St James's is the royal court of the United Kingdom. It previously had the same function in the Kingdom of England and in the Kingdom of Great Britain .-Overview:...

. The UN is represented by a resident mission as well, including UNDP, UNICEF, WHO
Who
Who may refer to:* Who , an English-language pronoun* who , a Unix command* Who?, one of the Five Ws in journalism- Art and entertainment :* Who? , a 1958 novel by Algis Budrys...

, FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

, WFP, and UNAIDS.

Historically, Lesotho has maintained generally close ties with Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

.

Lesotho also has maintained ties with the United Kingdom (Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 in particular), Germany, the United States and other Western states. Although in 1990 it broke relations with the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 (PRC) and re-established relations with the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (Taiwan), it later restored ties with the PRC.

Lesotho also recognizes the State of Palestine
State of Palestine
Palestine , officially declared as the State of Palestine , is a state that was proclaimed in exile in Algiers on 15 November 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization's National Council adopted the unilateral Palestinian Declaration of Independence...

.

In the past, it was a strong public supporter of the end of apartheid in South Africa and granted a number of South African refugees political asylum during the apartheid era.

Law


Lesotho does not have a single code containing its laws; it draws them from a variety of sources including: Constitution, Legislation, Common Law, Judicial precedent, Customary Law, and Authoritative texts.

The Constitution of Lesotho came into force after the publication of the Commencement Order. Constitutionally, legislation refers to laws that have been passed by both houses of parliament and have been assented to by the King (section 78(1)). Subordinate legislation refers to laws passed by other bodies to which parliament has by virtue of section 70(2) of the Constitution validly delegated such legislative powers. These include government gazettes, ministerial orders, ministerial regulations and municipal bye-laws.

Although Lesotho shares with South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe a mixed general legal system which resulted from the interaction between the Roman-Dutch Civilian law and the English Common Law, its general law operates independently. Lesotho also applies the common law, which refers to unwritten law or law from non-statutory sources, but excludes customary law. Decisions from South African courts are only persuasive, and courts refer to them in formulating their decisions. Decisions from similar jurisdictions can also be cited for their persuasive value. Magistrates’ courts decisions do not become precedent since these are lower courts. They are however bound by decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. At the apex of the Lesotho justice system is the Court of Appeal, which is the final appellate forum on all matters. It has a supervisory and review jurisdiction over all the courts of Lesotho.

Lesotho has a dual legal system consisting of customary and general laws operating side by side. Customary law is made up of the customs of the Basotho, written and codified in the Laws of Lerotholi whereas general law consists of Roman Dutch Law
Roman Dutch law
Roman Dutch law is a legal system based on Roman law as applied in the Netherlands in the 17th and 18th centuries. As such, it is a variety of the European continental civil law or ius commune...

 imported from the Cape and the Lesotho statutes. The codification of customary law came about after a council was appointed in 1903 to advise the British Resident Commissioner on what was best for the Basotho in terms of laws that would govern them. Until this time, the Basotho customs and laws were passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition. The council was then given the task of codifying them, came up with the Laws of Lerotholi which are applied by customary courts today (local courts). Written works of eminent authors have persuasive value in the courts of Lesotho. These include writings of the old authorities as well as contemporary writers from similar jurisdictions.

Culture




Traditional musical instruments include lekolulo, a kind of flute used by herding boys, setolo-tolo, played by men using their mouth, and the woman's stringed thomo.

The national anthem of Lesotho is "Lesotho Fatše La Bo-ntata Rona", which literally translates into "Lesotho, Land Of Our Fathers".

The traditional style of housing in Lesotho is called a rondavel
Rondavel
A rondavel is a westernised version of the African-style hut.The rondavel is usually round or oval in shape and is traditionally made with materials that can be locally found in raw form. Its walls are often constructed from stones. The mortar may consist of sand, soil, or combinations of these,...

.

Traditional attire revolves around the Basotho blanket, a thick covering made primarily of wool. The blankets are ubiquitous throughout the country during all seasons.

The Morija Arts & Cultural Festival
Morija Arts & Cultural Festival
Morija Arts & Cultural Festival, also known as Morija Festival, is an annual event held in Morija, a large village in the Maseru District of Lesotho...

 is a prominent Sesotho arts and music festival. It is held annually in the historical town of Morija, where the first missionaries arrived in 1833.

See also



  • Commonwealth of Nations
    Commonwealth of Nations
    The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

  • Communications in Lesotho
    Communications in Lesotho
    -Telephone system:Rudimentary system*Country code +266*Telephones - main lines in use: 22,200 *Telephones - mobile cellular: 300,000...

  • Lesotho Cycling Association (Federation)
    Lesotho Cycling Association (Federation)
    Lesotho Cycling Association is the national governing body of cycle racing in Lesotho....

  • Lesotho Scouts Association
    Lesotho Scouts Association
    Lesotho has 371 Boy Scouts served by the Lesotho Scouts Association. Founded in 1936, it became a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1971....

  • List of Basotho companies
  • Military of Lesotho
    Military of Lesotho
    The security forces are composed of the Lesotho Defence Force and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service. The LDF consists of an army, an air wing, and a newly formed paramilitary wing. The LDF is answerable to the Prime Minister through the Ministry of Defence, while the Lesotho Mounted Police report...

  • National University of Lesotho
    National University of Lesotho
    The National University of Lesotho is situated at Roma some 34 kilometers southeast of Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. The Roma valley is broad and is surrounded by a barrier of rugged mountains which provides magnificent scenery. The University enjoys a temperate climate with four distinctive...

  • National University of Lesotho International School
    National University of Lesotho International School
    The National University of Lesotho International School is part of the National University of Lesotho and is situated on its campus.Established in the early 1960s, the school offers Primary School Leaving Examination from grade 1 up to grade 7. Then it offers IGCSE from grade 8 to grade 11...

  • Transportation in Lesotho


External links