General information: Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966, when the country achieved independence (until 1966 – a protectorate of Great Britain). In 1993, after 23 years of military rule, constitutional government was restored.
Location: South Africa, an enclave of the Republic of South Africa.
Geographic coordinates: 29° 30′ S latitude, 28° 30′ E
Reference map: Africa.
Area: total: 30,355 km2; land surface area: 30,355 km2; water surface area: 0 km2
Comparative area: slightly smaller than the state of Maryland.
Land borders: total length: 909 km. with neighboring states: with South Africa 909 km.
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked).
Maritime claims: none (landlocked).
Climate: temperate; winters are dry, cool to cold; summer is hot and humid.
Relief: mostly plateaus with numerous hills and mountains.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: confluence of the Orange and Makaleng rivers 1,400 m; highest point: Mount Thabana-Ntlenyana 3,482 m.
Natural resources: drinking water, agricultural and pasture land, diamonds and other mineral resources.
Land use: arable land: 11%; cultivated land: 0%; pastures: 66%; forests and plantations: 0%; others: 23% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 30 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural Hazards: Periodic droughts.
Current environmental issues: population growth forces the use of unsuitable lands for agriculture, resulting in severe erosion and soil depletion; desertification; implementation of the project “Mountain Waters” (see section “Key Concepts”).
International environmental agreements: member: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Waste, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection; signed but not ratified: Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Pollution.
Note to the section “Geography”: landlocked; The country is surrounded on all sides by the territory of the Republic of South Africa.
Population: 2,177,062; note: estimates for this country take into account rising AIDS deaths; due to the spread of AIDS, life expectancy, population size and population growth may actually be lower, and child mortality and overall mortality rates correspondingly higher; there may also be changes in age structure and sex ratios (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 39.28% (men 430,147; women 424,994); 15 to 64 years old: 56.03% (male 588,440; female 631,404); over 65: 4.69% (male 43,033; female 59,044) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 1.49% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 31.24 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 15.7 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: -0.63 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male/female; under 15: 1.01 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.93 male/female; over 65: 0.73 male/female; for the general population: 0.95 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 82.77 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 48.84 years; men: 47.97 years; women: 49.74 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 4.08 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 23.57% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 240,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 16,000 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: resident of Lesotho; adjective: pertaining to Lesotho.
Ethnic groups: Suto 99.7%, European, Asian and other 0.3%.
Believers: Christians 80%, adherents of local beliefs 20%.
Language(s): Sesutho (South Suto), English (official), Zulu, Xosa.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 83%; men: 72%; women: 93% (1999 est.).
conventional long form: Kingdom of Lesotho;
conventional short form: Lesotho; former: Basutoland.
State structure: parliamentary-constitutional monarchy. See a2zgov.com to know more about Lesotho government and politics.
Administrative division: 10 districts: Be-rea, Buta-Bute, Kwacha-Nek, Kwithing, Leribe, Maseru, Mafeteng, Mokhotlong, Mohales-Hoek, Taba-Tseka.
Independence: from October 4, 1966 (until 1966 – protectorate of Great Britain).
National holiday: Independence Day, 4 October (since 1966).
Constitution: adopted April 2, 1993
Legal system: based on English common law and Roman Dutch law; review of judgments in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal; does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: King LETSIE III (since 7 February 1996); note – King LETSI III already held the throne from November 1990 to February 1995 while his father was in exile;
head of government: Prime Minister Pakalitha MOSISILI (since 23 May 1998)
Government: cabinet of ministers; elections: no; according to the constitution, the leader of the largest faction in the Assembly automatically becomes prime minister; the monarchy is hereditary, but, according to the constitution that came into force after the March 1993 elections, the monarch is a “living symbol of national unity” with no executive or legislative power; under traditional law, the council of chiefs has the right to decide who is the next heir and who becomes regent if the heir has not reached maturity, and even has the right to remove the monarch.
Legislature: a bicameral Parliament consisting of a Senate (33 members, 22 of whom are tribal leaders and 11 appointed by the ruling party) and an Assembly (80 members elected by popular vote for a five-year term); note – the number of members of the Assembly rose from 65 to 80 during the May 1998 elections; On February 28, 2001, the Senate approved the expansion of the Assembly by another 50 seats in the next elections, which could take place as early as January 2002; elections: last held on 23 May 1998 (next to be held in March 2001; election results: distribution of votes by party – LCD 60.7%, BNP 24.5%, other 14.8%; distribution of seats by party – LCD79.BNP 1; note: results disputed; opposition parties claim elections were rigged and staged a coup; September 1998 South African Development Community (SADC) forces invaded Lesotho and restored order; in December 1998, a Provisional Political Directorate was established to develop a new electoral system and hold new elections within 18 months.
Judiciary: Supreme Court, Chief Justice appointed by the monarch; Court of Appeal; Court of Magistrates; ordinary or traditional court.
Political parties and leaders: Basotho Congress Party (BCP) (Tselito MAHAKNE [Tseliso MAKNAKNE]); Basotho National Party (BNP) (Major General Justine Metsing LEKHANYA); Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) (Pacalita MOSISILI, leader; Phebe MOTEBANO, chairman) – ruling party; United Democratic Party (UDP) (Charles MOFELI); Marematlu Freedom Party (MFP) and the Setlamo Alliance (Vincent MALEBO); National Progressive Party (PNP) (Chief Peete Nkoebe PEETE [Peete Nkoebe PEETE]); Sefa-te Democratic Party (SDP) (Bofihla NKUEBE).
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ESA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat (nonsig- natory user), Interpol, IOC, ISO (subscriber), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.
Diplomatic representation in the United States: Head of Mission: Ambassador Lebohang Kenneth MOLEKO (Lebohang Kenneth MOLEKO); office: 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone:  (202) 797-5533 to 797-5536; fax: [\] (202) 234-6815.
US Diplomatic Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Katherine H. PETERSON; embassy: 254 Kingsway, Maseru West (Consular Section); mailing address: R. O. Box 333, Maseru 100, Lesotho; phone:  312666; fax:  310116.
Description of the flag: divided diagonally from the bottom corner of the hoist; the upper half is white, decorated with a brown silhouette of a large shield with a crossed spear and club; the bottom half is a diagonal blue stripe with a green triangle in the corner. Economy