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Mostly highland with plateaus, hills and mountains


Temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers


Nationality: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural) 
Population: 1,942,008 (July 2014 est.) Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS
Languages: Sesotho (official) (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosae


Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%


Small, mountainous, and completely landlocked by South Africa, about three-fourths of Lesotho’s population 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.

Living Conditions

Rural areas in South Africa and Lesotho are marked by poverty and inadequate access to health care. Diarrheal diseases and malnutrition sometimes occur. Malaria is also found in the low-lying regions of the Northern Province. However, people with access to land and employment enjoy a reasonable standard of living. Lesotho's capital city, Maseru, is a growing city with modern hotels and fine restaurants. Common forms of transportation include buses, trains, and taxis. 


Parliamentary constitutional monarchy

US Military Presence/Support






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