The World Factbook (1982)/Lesotho

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World Factbook (1982) Lesotho.jpg
(See reference map VII)


30,303 km2; 15% cultivable; largely mountainous

Land boundaries: 805 km


Population: 1,395,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 2.2%

Nationality: noun—Mosotho (sing.), Basotho (pl.); adjective—Basotho

Ethnic divisions: 99.7% Sotho, 1,600 Europeans, 800 Asians

Religion: 70% or more Christian, rest animist

Language: all Africans speak Sesotho vernacular; English is second language for literates

Literacy: 40%

Labor force: 87.4% of resident population engaged in subsistence agriculture; 150,000 to 250,000 spend from six months to many years as wage earners in South Africa

Organized labor: negligible


Official name: Kingdom of Lesotho

Type: constitutional monarchy under King Moshoeshoe II; independent member of Commonwealth since 1966

Capital: Maseru

Political subdivisions: 10 administrative districts

Legal system: based on English common law and Roman-Dutch law; constitution came into effect 1966; judicial review of legislative acts in High Court and Court of Appeal; legal education at National University of Lesotho; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: 4 October

Branches: executive, divided between a largely ceremonial King and a Prime Minister who leads Cabinet of at least seven members; Prime Minister dismissed bicameral legislature in early 1970 and subsequently ruled by decree until 1973 when he appointed Interim National Assembly to act as legislative branch; judicial—63 Lesotho courts administer customary law for Africans, High Court and subordinate courts have criminal jurisdiction over all residents, Court of Appeal at Maseru has appellate jurisdiction

Government leaders: King MOSHOESHOE II; Prime Minister Chief Leabua JONATHAN

Suffrage: universal for adults

Elections: elections held in January 1970; nullified allegedly because of election irregularities; subsequent elections promised at unspecified date

Political parties and leaders: National Party (BNP), Chief Leabua Jonathan; Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), Ntsu Molchehle

Voting strength: in 1965 elections for National Assembly, BNP won 32 seats; BCP, 22 seats; minor parties, 4 seats

Communists: negligible, Communist Party of Lesotho banned in early 1970

Member of: Commonwealth, FAO, G-77, GATT (de facto), IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, ITU, NAM, OAU, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO


GNP: $473.6 million (1979/80), $312 per capita; real growth rate, 5% (1980)

Agriculture: exceedingly primitive, mostly subsistence farming and livestock; principal crops are corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley

Major industries: none

Electric power: approximately 35 million kWh imported from South Africa (1981)

Exports: labor to South Africa (remittances $110 million est. in 1979); $33.7 million (f.o.b., 1979/80), wool, mohair, wheat, cattle, diamonds, peas, beans, corn, hides, skins

Imports: $288.0 million (c.i.f., 1979/80); mainly corn, building materials, clothing, vehicles, machinery, petroleum, oil, and lubricants

Major trade partner: South Africa

Budget: (FY80) revenues, $137.6 million; current expenditures, $98.2 million; development budget, $84,2 million

Monetary conversion rate: Lesotho uses the South African rand; 1 SA rand=US$ 1.15 (1981)

Fiscal year: 1 April-31 March


Railroads: 16 km; owned, operated, and included in the statistics of the Republic of South Africa

Highways: approx 4,033 km total; 320 km paved; 1,585 km crushed stone, gravel, or stabilized soil; 946 km improved, 2,128 km unimproved earth

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airfields: 27 total, 27 usable; 1 with permanent surface runways; 3 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: system a modest one consisting of a few land lines, a small radio-relay system, and minor radio-communication stations; 4,500 telephones (0.3 per 100 popl.); 2 AM stations and 1 FM station; 1 TV station planned


Military manpower: males 15–49, 313,000; 167,000 fit for military service