Geographic and Governmental Profile of Lesotho

Background
Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. The Basuto National Party ruled for the first two decades. King MOSHOESHOE was exiled in 1990, but returned to Lesotho in 1992 and was reinstated in 1995 and subsequently succeeded by his son, King LETSIE III, in 1996. Constitutional government was restored in 1993 after seven years of military rule. In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody intervention by South African and Botswana military forces under the aegis of the Southern African Development Community. Subsequent constitutional reforms restored relative political stability. Peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002, but the National Assembly elections of February 2007 were hotly contested and aggrieved parties continue to dispute how the electoral law was applied to award proportional seats in the Assembly.
Location
Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa
Geographic coordinates
29 30 S, 28 30 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Africa
Area
total:
30,355 sq km
rank:
142
land:
30,355 sq km
water:
0 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries
total:
909 km
border countries:
South Africa 909 km
Coastline
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims
none (landlocked)
Climate
temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers
Terrain
mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m
highest point:
Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m
Natural resources
water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone
Land use
arable land:
10.87%
permanent crops:
0.13%
other:
89% (2005)
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Irrigated land
30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
5.2 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
0.05 cu km/yr (40%/40%/20%)
per capita:
28 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
periodic droughts
Environment - current issues
population pressure forcing settlement in marginal areas results in overgrazing, severe soil erosion, and soil exhaustion; desertification; Highlands Water Project controls, stores, and redirects water to South Africa
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
landlocked, completely surrounded by South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 m above sea level
Country name
conventional long form:
Kingdom of Lesotho
conventional short form:
Lesotho
local long form:
Kingdom of Lesotho
local short form:
Lesotho
former:
Basutoland
Government type
parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Capital
name:
Maseru
geographic coordinates:
29 19 S, 27 29 E
time difference:
UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
10 districts; Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Mafeteng, Maseru, Mohale's Hoek, Mokhotlong, Qacha's Nek, Quthing, Thaba-Tseka
Independence
4 October 1966 (from the UK)
Constitution
2 April 1993
Legal system
mixed legal system of English common law and Roman-Dutch law; judicial review of legislative acts in High Court and Court of Appeal
International law organization participation
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
King LETSIE III (since 7 February 1996); note - King LETSIE III formerly occupied the throne from November 1990 to February 1995 while his father was in exile
head of government:
Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae THABANE (since 8 June 2012)
cabinet:
Cabinet
elections:
according to the constitution, the leader of the majority party in the Assembly automatically becomes prime minister; the monarchy is hereditary, but, under the terms of the constitution that came into effect after the March 1993 election, the monarch is a "living symbol of national unity" with no executive or legislative powers; under traditional law the college of chiefs has the power to depose the monarch, determine who is next in the line of succession, or who shall serve as regent in the event that the successor is not of mature age
Legislative branch
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (33 members - 22 principal chiefs and 11 other members appointed by the ruling party) and the Assembly (120 seats, 80 by popular vote and 40 by proportional vote; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections:
last held on 26 May 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
election results:
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - DC 48, ABC 30, LCD 26, BNP 5, PFD 3, NIP 2, other 6
Judicial branch
High Court (chief justice appointed by the monarch acting on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal; Magistrate Courts; customary or traditional courts
Political parties and leaders
All Basotho Convention or ABC [Thomas THABANE]; Basotho Batho Democratic Party or BBDP; Basotho Congress Party or BCP; Basotho Democratic National Party or BDNP [Thabang NYEOE]; Basotho National Party or BNP [vacant]; Democratic Congress or DC; Lesotho Congress for Democracy or LCD [Pakalitha MOSISILI]; Lesotho Peoples Congress or LPC; Lesotho Workers Party or LWP [Macaefa BILLY]; Marematlou Freedom Party or MFP; National Independent Party or NIP [Anthony MANYELI]; Popular Front for Democracy or PFD
Political pressure groups and leaders
Media Institute of Southern Africa, Lesotho chapter [Thabang MATJAMA] (pushes for media freedom)
International organization participation
ACP, AfDB, AU, C, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Eliachim Molapi SEBATANE
chancery:
2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:
[1] (202) 797-5533
FAX:
[1] (202) 234-6815
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Michele T. BOND
embassy:
254 Kingsway, Maseru West (Consular Section)
mailing address:
P. O. Box 333, Maseru 100, Lesotho
telephone:
[266] 22 312666
FAX:
[266] 22 310116
Flag description
three horizontal stripes of blue (top), white, and green in the proportions of 3:4:3; the colors represent rain, peace, and prosperity respectively; centered in the white stripe is a black Basotho hat representing the indigenous people; the flag was unfurled in October 2006 to celebrate 40 years of independence
National symbol(s)
Basotho hat
National anthem
name:
"Lesotho fatse la bo ntat'a rona" (Lesotho, Land of Our Fathers)
lyrics/music:
Francois COILLARD/Ferdinand-Samuel LAUR
adopted 1967; the anthem's music derives from an 1823 Swiss songbook
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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