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Africa :: Lesotho
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Lesotho
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Lesotho
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Map of Lesotho
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Introduction ::Lesotho
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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. 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 Botswanan 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 periodically demonstrate their distrust of the results.
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Geography ::Lesotho
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Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa
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29 30 S, 28 30 E
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total: 30,355 sq km
country comparison to the world: 141
land: 30,355 sq km
water: 0 sq km
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slightly smaller than Maryland
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total: 909 km
border countries: South Africa 909 km
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0 km (landlocked)
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none (landlocked)
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temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers
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mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains
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lowest point: junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m
highest point: Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m
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water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone
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arable land: 10.87%
permanent crops: 0.13%
other: 89% (2005)
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30 sq km (2003)
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5.2 cu km (1987)
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total: 0.05 cu km/yr (40%/40%/20%)
per capita: 28 cu m/yr (2000)
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periodic droughts
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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
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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
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landlocked, completely surrounded by South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 m above sea level
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People ::Lesotho
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2,130,819
country comparison to the world: 142
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
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0-14 years: 34.8% (male 373,159/female 368,271)
15-64 years: 60.2% (male 629,346/female 654,054)
65 years and over: 5% (male 42,074/female 63,915) (2009 est.)
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total: 21.4 years
male: 20.9 years
female: 22 years (2009 est.)
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0.116% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 189
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24.14 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
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22.2 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
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-0.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
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urban population: 25% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 77.4 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 24
male: 81.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 72.92 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 40.38 years
country comparison to the world: 221
male: 41.18 years
female: 39.54 years (2009 est.)
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3.06 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
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23.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
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270,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 26
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18,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
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noun: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)
adjective: Basotho
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Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%,
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Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
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Sesotho (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.8%
male: 74.5%
female: 94.5% (2003 est.)
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total: 10 years
male: 10 years
female: 10 years (2006)
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13% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 2
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Government ::Lesotho
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conventional long form: Kingdom of Lesotho
conventional short form: Lesotho
local long form: Kingdom of Lesotho
local short form: Lesotho
former: Basutoland
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parliamentary constitutional monarchy
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name: Maseru
geographic coordinates: 29 19 S, 27 29 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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10 districts; Berea, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Mafeteng, Maseru, Mohale's Hoek, Mokhotlong, Qacha's Nek, Quthing, Thaba-Tseka
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4 October 1966 (from the UK)
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Independence Day, 4 October (1966)
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2 April 1993
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based on English common law and Roman-Dutch law; judicial review of legislative acts in High Court and Court of Appeal; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
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18 years of age; universal
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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 Pakalitha MOSISILI (since 23 May 1998)
cabinet: Cabinet
elections: according to the constitution, the leader of the majority party in the Assembly automatically becomes prime minister; the monarch 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
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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 for five-year terms)
elections: last held 17 February 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LCD 61, NIP 21, ABC 17, LWP 10, ACP 4, BNP 3, other 4
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High Court (chief justice appointed by the monarch acting on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal; Magistrate Courts; customary or traditional court
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Alliance of Congress Parties or ACP including the Lesotho People's Congress or LCP [Kelebone MAOPE], the Basotholand African Congress or BAC [Khauhelo RALITAPOLE], and a faction of the Basotho Congress Party or BCP [Ntsukunyane MPHANYA]; 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 [Maj. Gen. Justin Metsing LEKHANYA]; Basotholand African National Congress or BANC; Christian Democratic Party or CDP [Enerst RAMOKOENA]; Lesotho Congress for Democracy or LCD (the governing party) [Pakalitha MOSISILI]; Lesotho Workers Party or LWP [Macaefa BILLY]; National Independent Party or NIP [Anthony MANYELI]
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Media Institute of Southern Africa, Lesotho chapter [Thabang MATJAMA] (pushes for media freedom)
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ACP, AfDB, AU, C, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO (subscriber), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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chief of mission: Ambassador David Mohlomi RANTEKOA
chancery: 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 797-5533 through 5536
FAX: [1] (202) 234-6815
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chief of mission: Ambassador Robert NOLAN
embassy: 254 Kingsway, Maseru West (Consular Section)
mailing address: P. O. Box 333, Maseru 100, Lesotho
telephone: [266] 22 312666
FAX: [266] 22 310116
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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
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Economy ::Lesotho
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Small, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho relies on remittances from miners employed in South Africa and customs duties from the Southern Africa Customs Union for the majority of government revenue. However, the government has recently strengthened its tax system to reduce dependency on customs duties. Completion of a major hydropower facility in January 1998 permitted the sale of water to South Africa and generated royalties for Lesotho. Lesotho produces about 90% of its own electrical power needs. As the number of mineworkers has declined steadily over the past several years, a small manufacturing base has developed based on farm products that support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries, as well as a rapidly expanding apparel-assembly sector. The latter has grown significantly mainly due to Lesotho qualifying for the trade benefits contained in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. The economy is still primarily based on subsistence agriculture, especially livestock, although drought has decreased agricultural activity. The extreme inequality in the distribution of income remains a major drawback. Lesotho has signed an Interim Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF. In July 2007, Lesotho signed a Millennium Challenge Account Compact with the US worth $362.5 million.
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$3.293 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
$3.084 billion (2007 est.)
$2.942 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$1.62 billion (2008 est.)
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6.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
4.8% (2007 est.)
6.2% (2006 est.)
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$1,500 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200
$1,500 (2007 est.)
$1,400 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 15.1%
industry: 46.4%
services: 38.5% (2008 est.)
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854,600 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
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agriculture: 86% of resident population engaged in subsistence agriculture; roughly 35% of the active male wage earners work in South Africa
industry and services: 14% (2002 est.)
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45% (2002)
country comparison to the world: 190
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49% (1999)
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lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 39.4% (2003)
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63.2 (1995)
country comparison to the world: 3
56 (1986-87)
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40.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
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revenues: $825.1 million
expenditures: $758.7 million (2008 est.)
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10.7% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
8% (2007 est.)
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14.05% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 20
12.82% (31 December 2007)
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NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 50
14.13% (31 December 2007)
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$416.5 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 137
$439.2 million (31 December 2007)
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$108.1 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 158
$160.2 million (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
$NA (31 December 2007)
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corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley; livestock
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food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction, tourism
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10% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
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502 million kWh
country comparison to the world: 159
note: electricity supplied by South Africa (2007 est.)
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516.9 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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50 million kWh; note - electricity supplied by South Africa (2008 est.)
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0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
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2,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
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0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
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1,553 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
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0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 163
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0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 161
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
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0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
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$111 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
$211.8 million (2007 est.)
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$953 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
$805 million (2007 est.)
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manufactures 75% (clothing, footwear, road vehicles), wool and mohair, food and live animals (2000)
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US 93.6%, Madagascar 1.7%, Canada 1.5% (2008)
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$1.882 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
$1.604 billion (2007 est.)
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food; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products
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China 31.1%, Taiwan 23.5%, Hong Kong 19.4%, India 13.8%, Germany 5.2% (2008)
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$994 million (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
$874 million (31 December 2007 est.)
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$619 million (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162
$689 million (31 December 2007 est.)
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maloti (LSL) per US dollar - 7.75 (2008 est.), 7.25 (2007), 6.85 (2006), 6.3593 (2005), 6.4597 (2004)
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Communications ::Lesotho
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65,200 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 156
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581,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 153
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general assessment: rudimentary system consisting of a modest but growing number of landlines, a small microwave radio relay system, and a small radiotelephone communication system; mobile-cellular telephone system is expanding
domestic: privatized in 2001, Telecom Lesotho tasked with providing an additional 50,000 fixed-line connections within five years, a target not met; mobile-cellular service is expanding with a subscribership exceeding 25 per 100 persons; rural services are scant
international: country code - 266; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
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AM 1, FM 3, shortwave 1 (2007)
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1 (2007)
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.ls
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127 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 197
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73,300 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 163
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Transportation ::Lesotho
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26 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 126
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total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2009)
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total: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 18 (2009)
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total: 7,091 km
country comparison to the world: 147
paved: 1,404 km
unpaved: 5,687 km (2003)
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Military ::Lesotho
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Lesotho Defense Force (LDF): Army (includes Air Wing) (2008)
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18-24 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
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males age 16-49: 525,203
females age 16-49: 522,485 (2008 est.)
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males age 16-49: 267,083
females age 16-49: 240,868 (2009 est.)
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male: 26,039
female: 25,964 (2009 est.)
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2.6% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 60
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Lesotho's declared policy is maintenance of its independent sovereignty and preservation of internal security; in practice, external security is guaranteed by South Africa; restructuring of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) and Ministry of Defense and Public Service over the past five years has focused on subordinating the defense apparatus to civilian control and restoring the LDF's cohesion; the restructuring has considerably improved capabilities and professionalism, but the LDF is disproportionately large for a small, poor country; the government has outlined a reduction to a planned 1,500-man strength, but these plans have met with vociferous resistance from the political opposition and from inside the LDF (2008)
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Transnational Issues ::Lesotho
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none
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