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Africa :: Lesotho
page last updated on May 7, 2013
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Lesotho
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of Lesotho
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Introduction ::Lesotho
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Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. The Basuto National Party ruled the country during its first two decades. King MOSHOESHOE was exiled in 1990, but returned to Lesotho in 1992 and was reinstated in 1995 and subsequently succeeded by his son, King LETSIE III, in 1996. Constitutional government was restored in 1993 after seven years of military rule. In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody intervention by South African and Batswana military forces under the aegis of the Southern African Development Community. Subsequent constitutional reforms restored relative political stability. Peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002, but the National Assembly elections of February 2007 were hotly contested and aggrieved parties disputed how the electoral law was applied to award proportional seats in the Assembly. In May 2012, competitive elections involving 18 parties saw Prime Minister Motsoahae Thomas THABANE form a coalition government - the first in the country's history - that ousted the 14-year incumbent, Pakalitha MOSISILI, who peacefully transferred power the following month.
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Geography ::Lesotho
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Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa
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29 30 S, 28 30 E
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total: 30,355 sq km
country comparison to the world: 142
land: 30,355 sq km
water: 0 sq km
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slightly smaller than Maryland
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total: 909 km
border countries: South Africa 909 km
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0 km (landlocked)
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none (landlocked)
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temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers
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mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains
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lowest point: junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m
highest point: Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m
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water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone
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arable land: 10.14%
permanent crops: 0.13%
other: 89.72% (2011)
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26.37 sq km (2003)
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3.02 cu km (2011)
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total: 0.04 cu km/yr (46%/46%/9%)
per capita: 21.79 cu m/yr (2000)
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periodic droughts
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population pressure forcing settlement in marginal areas results in overgrazing, severe soil erosion, and soil exhaustion; desertification; Highlands Water Project controls, stores, and redirects water to South Africa
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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landlocked, completely surrounded by South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 m above sea level
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People and Society ::Lesotho
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noun: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)
adjective: Basotho
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Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%,
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Sesotho (official) (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa
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Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
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1,936,181 (July 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
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0-14 years: 33.1% (male 322,189/female 319,618)
15-24 years: 20.2% (male 185,931/female 205,643)
25-54 years: 36.3% (male 344,120/female 359,370)
55-64 years: 4.9% (male 50,781/female 44,399)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 52,241/female 51,889) (2013 est.)
population pyramid:
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total: 23.4 years
male: 23.3 years
female: 23.4 years (2013 est.)
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0.34% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 163
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26.31 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
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15.02 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
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-7.89 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 202
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urban population: 27% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 3.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
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MASERU (capital) 220,000 (2009)
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at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.14 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.99 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2013 est.)
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620 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 11
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total: 51.93 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 38
male: 55.96 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 47.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2013 est.)
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total population: 52.3 years
country comparison to the world: 212
male: 52.2 years
female: 52.39 years (2013 est.)
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2.83 children born/woman (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
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11.1% of GDP (2010)
country comparison to the world: 18
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0.05 physicians/1,000 population (2003)
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1.33 beds/1,000 population (2006)
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improved:
urban: 91% of population
rural: 73% of population
total: 78% of population
unimproved:
urban: 9% of population
rural: 27% of population
total: 22% of population (2010 est.)
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improved:
urban: 32% of population
rural: 24% of population
total: 26% of population
unimproved:
urban: 68% of population
rural: 76% of population
total: 74% of population (2010 est.)
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23.6% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
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290,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
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14,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
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14.6% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 120
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13.5% (2010)
country comparison to the world: 56
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13% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 1
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.6%
male: 83.3%
female: 95.6% (2010 est.)
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total: 10 years
male: 10 years
female: 10 years (2008)
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total: 34.4%
country comparison to the world: 17
male: 29%
female: 41.9% (2008)
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Government ::Lesotho
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conventional long form: Kingdom of Lesotho
conventional short form: Lesotho
local long form: Kingdom of Lesotho
local short form: Lesotho
former: Basutoland
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parliamentary constitutional monarchy
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name: Maseru
geographic coordinates: 29 19 S, 27 29 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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10 districts; Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Mafeteng, Maseru, Mohale's Hoek, Mokhotlong, Qacha's Nek, Quthing, Thaba-Tseka
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4 October 1966 (from the UK)
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Independence Day, 4 October (1966)
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2 April 1993
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mixed legal system of English common law and Roman-Dutch law; judicial review of legislative acts in High Court and Court of Appeal
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accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
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18 years of age; universal
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chief of state: King LETSIE III (since 7 February 1996); note - King LETSIE III formerly occupied the throne from November 1990 to February 1995 while his father was in exile
head of government: Prime Minister Motsoahae Thomas THABANE (since 8 June 2012)
cabinet: Cabinet
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elections: according to the constitution, the leader of the majority party, or coalition of parties, in the Assembly automatically becomes prime minister; the monarchy is hereditary, but, under the terms of the constitution that came into effect after the March 1993 election, the monarch is a "living symbol of national unity" with no executive or legislative powers; under traditional law the college of chiefs has the power to depose the monarch, determine who is next in the line of succession, or who shall serve as regent in the event that the successor is not of mature age
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bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (33 members - 22 principal chiefs and 11 other members appointed by the ruling party) and the Assembly (120 seats, 80 by popular vote and 40 by proportional vote; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 26 May 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - DC 48, ABC 30, LCD 26, BNP 5, PFD 3, NIP 2, other 6
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High Court (chief justice appointed by the monarch acting on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal; Magistrate Courts; customary or traditional courts
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All Basotho Convention or ABC [Motsoahae Thomas THABANE]; Basotho Batho Democratic Party or BBDP [Geremane RAMATHEBANE]; Basotho Congress Party or BCP [Thulo MAHLAKENG]; Basotho Democratic National Party or BDNP [Thabang NYEOE]; Basotho National Party or BNP [Thesele 'MASERIBANE]; Democratic Congress or DC [Pakalitha MOSISILI]; Lesotho Congress for Democracy or LCD [Mothetjoa METSING]; Lesotho Peoples Congress or LPC [Kelebone MAOPE]; Lesotho Workers Party or LWP [Macaefa BILLY]; Marematlou Freedom Party or MFP [Vincent MALEBO]; National Independent Party or NIP [Kimetso MATHABA]; Popular Front for Democracy or PFD [Lekhetho RAKUOANE]
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Media Institute of Southern Africa, Lesotho chapter [Tsebo MATŠASA] (pushes for media freedom)
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ACP, AfDB, AU, C, CD, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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chief of mission: Ambassador Eliachim Molapi SEBATANE
chancery: 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 797-5533
FAX: [1] (202) 234-6815
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chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Carl B. FOX
embassy: 254 Kingsway Road, Maseru West (Consular Section)
mailing address: P. O. Box 333, Maseru 100, Lesotho
telephone: [266] 22 312666
FAX: [266] 22 310116
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three horizontal stripes of blue (top), white, and green in the proportions of 3:4:3; the colors represent rain, peace, and prosperity respectively; centered in the white stripe is a black Basotho hat representing the indigenous people; the flag was unfurled in October 2006 to celebrate 40 years of independence
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Basotho hat
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name: "Lesotho fatse la bo ntat'a rona" (Lesotho, Land of Our Fathers)
lyrics/music: Francois COILLARD/Ferdinand-Samuel LAUR
note: adopted 1967; the anthem's music derives from an 1823 Swiss songbook
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Economy ::Lesotho
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Small, mountainous, and completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho is a least developed country in which about three-fourths of the people live in rural areas and engage in subsistence agriculture. Lesotho produces less than 20% of the nation's demand for food. Rain-fed agriculture is vulnerable to weather and climate variability; an estimated 725,500 people will require food assistance in 2012/13. The distribution of income in Lesotho remains inequitable. Lesotho relies on South Africa for much of its economic activity. Lesotho imports 90% of the goods it consumes from South Africa, including most agricultural inputs. Households depend heavily on remittances from family members working in South Africa, in mines, on farms and as domestic workers, though mining employment has declined substantially since the 1990s. Government revenue depends heavily on transfers from South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern Africa Customs Union accounted for 44% of government revenue in 2012. The South African Government also pays royalties for water tranfered to South Africa from a dam and reservoir system in Lesotho. However, the government continues to strengthen its tax system to reduce dependency on customs duties and other transfers. Access to credit remains a problem for the private sector. The government maintains a large presence in the economy - public expenditures accounted for 55% of GDP in 2010 and the government remains Lesotho's largest employer. Lesotho's largest private employer is the textile and garment industry - approximately 36,000 Basotho, mainly women, work in factories producing garments for export to South Africa and the US. Diamond mining in Lesotho has grown in recent years and may contribute 8.5% to GDP by 2015, according to current forecasts. Lesotho's $362.5 million Millennium Challenge Account Compact, which focused on strengthening the healthcare system, developing the private sector, and providing access to improved water supplies and sanitation facilities, will end in September 2013. Despite the 2008/09 global economic crisis, the economy has recovered strongly with growth averaging nearly 5% per year since 2010.
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$3.945 billion (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
$3.784 billion (2011 est.)
$3.606 billion (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars
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$2.62 billion (2012 est.)
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4.3% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
4.9% (2011 est.)
5.2% (2010 est.)
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$2,000 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
$1,900 (2011 est.)
$1,900 (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars
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agriculture: 6.7%
industry: 34.6%
services: 58.7% (2012 est.)
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894,500 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
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agriculture: 86%
industry and services: 14%
note: most of resident population engaged in subsistence agriculture; roughly 35% of the active male wage earners work in South Africa (2002 est.)
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25% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174
45% (2002 est.)
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49% (1999)
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lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 39.4% (2003)
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63.2 (1995)
country comparison to the world: 1
56 (1986-87)
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36.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
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revenues: $1.655 billion
expenditures: $1.68 billion (2012 est.)
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63.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
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-0.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
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NA
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6.1% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162
5% (2011 est.)
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9.36% (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
10% (31 December 2010 est.)
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10.08% (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
10.4% (31 December 2011 est.)
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$378.6 million (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
$346.5 million (31 December 2011 est.)
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$897 million (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
$820.4 million (31 December 2011 est.)
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$82.19 million (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
$60.61 million (31 December 2010 est.)
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corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley; livestock
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food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction, tourism
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3% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
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$-352.6 million (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
$-521.5 million (2011 est.)
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$1.039 billion (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
$1.003 billion (2011 est.)
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manufactures (clothing, footwear), wool and mohair, food and live animals, electricity, water, diamonds
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$2.469 billion (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
$2.306 billion (2011 est.)
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food; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products
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$1.089 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
$1.109 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
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$715.4 million (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
$729.5 million (31 December 2011 est.)
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$242 million (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
$120 million (31 December 2011 est.)
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maloti (LSL) per US dollar -
8.1 (2012 est.)
7.26 (2011 est.)
7.32 (2010 est.)
8.47 (2009)
7.75 (2008)
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1 April - 31 March
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Energy ::Lesotho
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200 million kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
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293 million kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
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0 kWh (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
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121 million kWh (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
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76,000 kW (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175
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0% of total installed capacity (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
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0% of total installed capacity (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
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100% of total installed capacity (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1
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0% of total installed capacity (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
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0 bbl/day (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
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0 bbl (1 January 2012 es)
country comparison to the world: 156
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0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
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1,777 bbl/day (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 192
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0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
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1,813 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 181
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0 cu m (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
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0 cu m (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
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0 cu m (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
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0 cu m (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
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0 cu m (1 January 2012 es)
country comparison to the world: 160
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282,100 Mt (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
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Communications ::Lesotho
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38,600 (2011)
country comparison to the world: 168
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1.232 million (2011)
country comparison to the world: 152
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general assessment: rudimentary system consisting of a modest number of landlines, a small microwave radio relay system, and a small radiotelephone communication system; mobile-cellular telephone system is expanding
domestic: privatized in 2001, Telecom Lesotho was tasked with providing an additional 50,000 fixed-line connections within five years, a target not met; mobile-cellular service dominates the market and is expanding with a subscribership roughly 65 per 100 persons in 2011; rural services are scant
international: country code - 266; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)
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1 state-owned TV station and 2 state-owned radio stations; government controls most private broadcast media; satellite TV subscription service available; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters obtainable (2008)
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.ls
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11,030 (2012)
country comparison to the world: 131
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76,800 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 168
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Transportation ::Lesotho
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24 (2012)
country comparison to the world: 130
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total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2012)
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total: 21
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 16 (2012)
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total: 7,091 km
country comparison to the world: 147
paved: 1,404 km
unpaved: 5,687 km (2003)
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Military ::Lesotho
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Lesotho Defense Force (LDF): Army (includes Air Wing) (2012)
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18-24 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; women serve as commissioned officers (2012)
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males age 16-49: 472,456
females age 16-49: 508,953 (2010 est.)
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males age 16-49: 270,184
females age 16-49: 275,734 (2010 est.)
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male: 19,110
female: 20,037 (2010 est.)
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1.9% of GDP (2012)
country comparison to the world: 71
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Lesotho's declared policy is maintenance of its independent sovereignty and preservation of internal security; in practice, external security is guaranteed by South Africa; restructuring of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) and Ministry of Defense and Public Service over the past five years has focused on subordinating the defense apparatus to civilian control and restoring the LDF's cohesion; the restructuring has considerably improved capabilities and professionalism, but the LDF is disproportionately large for a small, poor country; the government has outlined a reduction to a planned 1,500-man strength, but these plans have met with vociferous resistance from the political opposition and from inside the LDF (2008)
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Transnational Issues ::Lesotho
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South Africa has placed military units to assist police operations along the border of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to control smuggling, poaching, and illegal migration
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