Lesotho, my destination and home for the next couple of months, is a small country in Southern Africa. Its capital, Maseru, is where I’ll be living. Lesotho is approximately the size of Belgium, landlocked and completely surrounded by South Africa. It is the country with the highest lowpoint in the world at 1,388m above sea level. This explains its two nicknames: “Mountain Kingdom” and “Kingdom in the Sky”. Temperatures vary from 35°C in summer in the lowlands to -17°C in winter in the mountains.
The population of Lesotho amounts to approximately 2 million, most of which are Basotho. The population’s growth rate was 0.8% in 2007 and is currently even falling (in comparison: the average growth rate in sub-saharan Africa lies at 2.2%). This is a result of the population’s declining birth rate and the high incidence of HIV and AIDS (third highest in the world behind Botswana and Swaziland). The country is one of the world’s poorest. Its two official languages are English and Sesotho.
As so many people have already asked me about the country’s political system: the country functions as constitutional monarchy with a king, Letsie III, with mostly ceremonial functions, a government headed by a prime minister, currently Tom Thabane, and a parliament that is largely based on the model of the Westminster system with an upper and lower house (Senate and National Assembly). According to the Freedom House Index, the country is “Free” (meaning, democratic).
In addition to the above dry figures and facts, Lesotho has been described as a “truly beautiful and fascinating place”. Personal impressions will follow on this blog.
Sources (sorry, five years of university have left a mark 🙂 ) :
Fleminger, David (2010), “Lesotho. Southbound Travel Guide” (Johannesburg: 30° South Publishers).
Freedom House (2013), “Lesotho”. Text available at: http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2013/lesotho (accessed 06.10.2013).
United Nations Population Fund (2007), “Sub-Saharan Africa”. Text available at: http://www.unfpa.org/worldwide/africa.html (accessed 06.10.2013).
World Bank (2013), “Lesotho”. Text available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/lesotho (accessed 06.10.2013).