Lesotho is a small independent nation of 1.8 million people located deep in the south of Africa. It is unique among African nations in that it is very mountainous with its lowest elevation at 4,000 feet. Winters are very cold and snow is common at the higher elevations. The country, about the size of Maryland, is known by its people as the Mountain Kingdom. Lesotho summers are characterized by thunderstorms in which most of the annual rainfall occurs. An average summer temperature is 86 degrees farenheight. Winters are very cold, with temperatures ranging from 0-19 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow is common.
The people of Lesotho, the Basotho, are very poor. The country has many problems—one in four Basotho are HIV positive with a life expectancy of only 42 years. Unemployment is 25%, and while 67% are considered poor, 43% live at or under the national poverty level with an income less than $1.25 USD per day. Nearly 82% of the population support themselves with subsistence farming but in recent years there have been crop failures leaving 36% (over 725,000 individuals) without security for obtaining sufficient food. Children suffer significantly under these stresses. There is widespread chronic malnutrition and 39% of children under five years old have stunted growth—they are below normal weight and height. Over 220,000 (11%) of the children of Lesotho are orphans.
Traditional blankets in the Mountain Kingdom
Traditional Basotho attire is centered round the Basotho blanket, a brightly colored wool blanket. It is very common to see men, women, and children wearing a blanket during all times of the year.
Lesotho gained independence from Britain in 1966 after a long road to statehood beginning in 1822 with King Moshoeshoe I. Many wars and conflicts in Lesotho were the result of the Dutch-British conflict.
The economy of Lesotho is hand-in-hand with that of South Africa. Main industries include agriculture (2/3 of economic activity), livestock, manufacturing, and mining. Lesotho is the largest exporter of ready-made garments in Southern Africa.
More About Lesotho
How to wear a Basotho Traditional Blanket (Men)
How to wear a Basotho Traditional Blanket (Women)
Lesotho National Anthem
HISTORY & SOCIETY
Thaba Bossiu, History of Lesotho
Lesotho – Survival – Africa (about the textile trade)
Discover Lesotho – The City of Maseru