lesothoLesotho, formally known as the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a tiny, landlocked African country located like an island within the borders of a larger country, Republic of South Africa. Lesotho’s high mountains, some reaching as high as 3,500 meters, and rolling, lush green terrain have earned it the nickname, “The Kingdom in the Sky”. The population of Lesotho is about 2 million and the name of its capital is Maseru. Due to poor infrastructure, remote villages are accessible only on foot or horseback. Two main problems confronting Lesotho are widespread rural poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Due to its rather unusual geographical location, the country’s economy is largely influenced by the policies and developments in the surrounding South Africa.

Context

Context

For administrative purposes, Lesotho is divided into 10 districts. Each district is sub-divided into constituencies (in total 88). The constituencies consist of 129 local community councils. All districts are headed by District Administrators, and have their own individual capitals.  

Lesotho enjoys a variety of climates. Winters are generally cold and dry in the highlands where mountains are covered by snow. In the lowlands, temperatures are a bit high during summer but very low during the winters. Rainfall varies, but mostly occurs in the highlands.

Almost all farmers in Lesotho are subsistent, cultivating on plots of less than 1.5 hectare size. Old laws of community ownership of land are being gradually reformed. Factors like limited arable area, serious soil degradation especially in rangelands, a lack of irrigation facilities, droughts, little private investment due to land ownership laws, and low public spending on agriculture have kept the agricultural sector underdeveloped. The main crops cultivated include maize, sorghum, wheat and barley while major vegetables include beans, potatoes, and peas. Peaches, apples, apricot, peaches and walnut are main fruits. Cattle, sheep (for high quality wool and mohair), goats, horses, donkeys, pigs and poultry constitute the livestock domain.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

23,120

76.15

308,000

10.14

0.15

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

N.A.

 

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

7.40

106.19

8.93

28.13

2012

2011

2009

2009

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

1,380

2012

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

75.80

92.09

74.18

124.14

138.75

2009

2009

2009

2009

2012

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

59.17

4.58

2012

2012

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

2,051,545

66.84

1,470,945

71.69

N.A.

855,109

335,000

39.17

191.30

2012

2011

2012

2012

2012

2010

2011

2010

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (March 2014)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson

 

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