Lesotho profile

Map of Lesotho

The Kingdom of Lesotho is made up mostly of highlands where many of the villages can be reached only on horseback, by foot or light aircraft.

Resources are scarce - a consequence of the harsh environment of the highland plateau and limited agricultural space in the lowlands.

The former British protectorate has been heavily dependent on the country which completely surrounds it - South Africa.

Over the decades thousands of workers have been forced by the lack of job opportunities to find work at South African mines.

And the Lesotho Highlands Water Project was completed in the 1990s to export water to South Africa.



Head of state: King Letsie III

Lesotho's King Letsie III

King Letsie III succeeded his father, King Moshoeshoe, who was dethroned in 1990.

Five years later, after the return to civilian government and amid political instability, he abdicated and his father was reinstated as monarch.

Letsie III was restored as king in 1996 after his father died in a car accident. The monarch has no legislative or executive powers.

Prime minister: Pakalitha Mosisili

Lesotho premier Pakalitha Mosisili

Pakalitha Mosisili heads a coalition government formed after early elections held in February 2015.

The elections were brought forward by nearly two years after the previous prime minister Thomas Thabane briefly fled to South Africa in August 2014, alleging a coup. South Africa was involved in mediating during the crisis.

Mr Mosisili's Democratic Congress (DC) ousted former premier Thabane's All Basotho Congress (ABC) by uniting with smaller parties, forming Lesotho's second consecutive coalition government after the election produced no clear winner.


Man riding a donkey in Lesotho

Radio is the most-popular medium. As well as domestic outlets, South African radio and TV stations can be received.


1820s - Basutoland founded by Moshoeshoe, who unites various groups to repel challenges from Zulus.

1834 - Territorial encroachment by Boer trekkers starts decades of conflict.

1860s - Becomes a British protectorate.

1871 - Annexed to the Cape Colony without people's consent.

1884 - Becomes a British colony after revolt against Cape Colonial rule. Paramount chiefs retain large degree of autonomy.

1966 - Independence as Kingdom of Lesotho, with Moshoeshoe II as king and Chief Leabua Jonathan (Basotho National Party) as prime minister.

1998 - Troops from the region restore order following disputed elections.

2004 - Official opening of first phase of Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

Lesotho's Katse Dam, part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project The Lesotho Highlands Water Project provides water for South Africa's industrial heartland

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories