Kingdom of Lesotho


Lesotho contains the source of the Orange-Senqu River, with the Senqu River rising in the northern highlands of the country. Lesotho is a primarily mountainous country in southern Africa, entirely surrounded by South Africa. A large percentage of the population live in the capital city of Maseru, but Lesotho also maintains a large rural population, with many people relying on subsistence agricultural and pastoral livelihoods.

As the source-country for the Orange-Senqu River, Lesotho plays a critical role in the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM). In contrast to the other riparian states of the Orange-Senqu River basin, Lesotho does not face significant water shortages, due to its geographic and climatic situation. Therefore, in addition to its traditional exports of food, textiles and livestock, Lesotho’s primary economic export is water; with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project distributing  500 Mm3/year to the Vaal River of neighbouring South Africa to support the industrial centre of Gauteng Province, with economic returns for Phase 1A & 1B totaling US$ 1,5 million/ month (Earle and Turton 2003).

Key indicators and data

Capital city: Maseru
Population (estimated for 2009): 2 130 819
Population density (estimated average) 70,1/km2
Date of independence 4 October 1966
Human Development Index (2008) 0,496 155th out of 179 countries
Human Poverty Index (2008) 34,6 130th out of 135 countries
Access to improved drinking water sources Urban: 88%
Rural: 74 %
Access to improved sanitation Urban: 72 %
Rural: 40 %
GDP (2008, est): US$3 384 billion (total) US$1 600 (per capita)
Economic Growth Rate (est. 2008) 5,9 %
Primary sectors: Agriculture: 15,1 %
Industry: 46,7 %
Services: 38,2 %
Main exports: Clothing, wool, food, livestock
Neighbouring countries South Africa
Area of land in the Orange-Senqu River basin: 34 000 km²
Percentage of the Orange-Senqu River basin 3.4 %

Sources: World Factbook (2009), BBC Monitoring (2009), UNHDR (2008);


The coat of arms of Lesotho.
( click to enlarge )

Source:Hatfield 2009
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