Main article: Geography of Guinea-Bissau
Map of Guinea Bissau
Typical scenery in Guinea-Bissau
Satellite image of Guinea-Bissau (2003)
Guinea-Bissau lies mostly between latitudes 11° and 13°N (a small area is south of 11°), and longitudes 13° and 17°W.
At 36,125 square kilometres (13,948 sq mi), the country is larger in size than Taiwan, Belgium, or the U.S. state of Maryland. This small, tropical country lies at a low altitude; its highest point is 300 metres (984 ft) Sony VAIO PCG-7161L battery. The interior is savanna, and the coastline is plain with swamps of Guinean mangroves. Its monsoon-like rainy season alternates with periods of hot, dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. The Bijagos Archipelago extends out to sea.
Guinea-Bissau is warm all year around and there is little temperature fluctuation; it averages 26.3 °C (79.3 °F). The average rainfall for Bissau is 2,024 millimetres (79.7 in) although this is almost entirely accounted for during the rainy season which falls between June and September/OctoberSony VAIO PCG-7154L battery. From December through April, the country experiences drought.
Main article: Economy of Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau's GDP per capita is one of the lowest in the world, and its Human Development Index is one of the lowest on earth. More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line. The economy depends mainly on agriculture; fish, cashew nuts and ground nuts are its major exports. A long period of political instability has resulted in depressed economic activity, deteriorating social conditions, and increased macroeconomic imbalancesSony VAIO PCG-7153L battery.
Guinea-Bissau has started to show some economic advances after a pact of stability was signed by the main political parties of the country, leading to an IMF-backed structural reform program. The key challenges for the country in the period ahead would be to achieve fiscal discipline, rebuild public administrationSony VAIO PCG-7152L battery, improve the economic climate for private investment, and promote economic diversification. After becoming independent from Portugal in 1974 due to the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution, the exodus of the Portuguese civilian, military and political authorities brought tremendous damage to the country's economic infrastructure, social order and standard of livingSony VAIO PCG-7151L battery.
After several years of economic downturn and political instability, in 1997, Guinea-Bissau entered the CFA franc monetary system, bringing about some internal monetary stability. The civil war that took place in 1998 and 1999 and a military coup in September 2003 again disrupted economic activity, leaving a substantial part of the economic and social infrastructure in ruins and intensifying the already widespread povertySony VAIO PCG-7148L battery. Following the parliamentary elections in March 2004 and presidential elections in July 2005, the country is trying to recover from the long period of instability despite a still-fragile political situation.
Beginning around 2005, drug traffickers based in Latin America began to use Guinea-Bissau, along with several neighboring West African nations, as a transshipment point to Europe for cocaine. Sony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/T batteryThe nation was described by a United Nations official as being at risk for becoming a "narco-state". The government and the military have done little to stop drug trafficking, which has increased since the 2012 coup d'état.
Guinea-Bissau is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) Sony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/R battery.
Main article: Demographics of Guinea-Bissau
Crossing the river at low tide
The population of Guinea-Bissau is ethnically diverse and has many distinct languages, customs, and social structures. Guinea-Bissauans can be divided into the following ethnic groups: Fula and the Mandinka-speaking people, who comprise the largest portion of the population and are concentrated in the north and northeast; the Balanta and Papel peopleSony VAIO VGN-CS11S/W battery, who live in the southern coastal regions; and the Manjaco and Mancanha, who occupy the central and northern coastal areas. Most of the remainder are mestiços of mixed Portuguese and African descent, including a Cape Verdean minority.
Portuguese natives comprise a very small percentage of Guinea-Bissauans. This deficit was directly caused by the exodus of Portuguese settlers that took place after Guinea-Bissau gained independence. The country has a tiny Chinese populationSony VAIO VGN-CS11S/Q battery, including those of mixed Portuguese and Chinese ancestry from Macau, a former Asian Portuguese colony.
Main article: Languages of Guinea-Bissau
Only 14% of the population speaks the official language, Portuguese. 44% speak Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speaks native African languages. Most Portuguese and Mestiços speak one of the African languages and Kriol as second languages. French is learned in schoolsSony VAIO VGN-CS11S/P battery, as the country is surrounded by French-speaking countries and is a full member of the Francophonie.
Throughout the 20th century, most Bissau-Guineans practiced some form of Animism. Recently, many have adopted Islam, which is currently practiced by 50% of the country's population; most of Guinea-Bissau's Muslims practice Sunni Islam(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H battery). Approximately 10 percent of the country's population belong to the Christian community, and 40% continue to hold Indigenous beliefs. These statistics can be misleading, however, as both Islamic and Christian practices may be largely influenced and enriched by syncretism with traditional African beliefs(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B battery).
The WHO estimates that there are fewer than 5 physicians per 100,000 persons in the country, down from 12 per 100,000 in 2007. The prevalence of HIV-infection among the adult population is 1.8%, with only 20% of infected pregnant women receiving anti retroviral coverage. Malaria is an even bigger killer; 9% of the population have reported infection, and it is the specific mortality cause almost three times as often as AIDS. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B battery) (In 2008, fewer than half of children younger than five slept under antimalaria nets or had access to antimalarial drugs).
Life expectancy at birth has climbed since 1990, but remains short: the WHO's estimate of life expectancy for a child born in 2008 was 49 years (and only 47 years for a boy).
Maternal and child healthcare
In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW170C battery) It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Guinea Bissau is 1000. This is compared with 804.3 in 2008 and 966 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 195 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 24(Sony VAIO VGN-AW19/Q battery). The aim of this report is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality and Goal 5 – improve maternal death. In Guinea Bissau the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 3; one out of eighteen pregnant women die as a result of pregnancy(Sony VAIO VGN-AW19 battery).
Main article: Education in Guinea-Bissau
Education is compulsory from the age of 7 to 13. The enrollment of boys is higher than that of girls. Child labor is very common. A significant minority of the population are illiterate.
On the other side, Guinea-Bissau has several secondary schools (general as well as technical) and a surprising number of universities, to which an institutionally autonomous Faculty of Law as well as a Faculty of Medicine have to be added(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21M/H battery).
In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 53.5 percent, with higher enrollment ratio for males (67.7 percent) compared to females (40 percent). Since 2001, Guinea-Bissau has been recovering from the civil conflict of 1999, and later conflicts, which displaced one-third of the population, destroyed many schools, and prevented most young children from attending school for at least half a year(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21S/B battery).
See also: List of African writers (by country)#Guinea-Bissau
Carnival in Bissau
Main article: Music of Guinea-Bissau
The music of Guinea-Bissau is usually associated with the polyrhythmic gumbe genre, the country's primary musical export. However, civil unrest and other factors have combined over the years to keep gumbe, and other genres, out of mainstream audiences, even in generally syncretist African countries. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21VY/Q battery)
The calabash is the primary musical instrument of Guinea-Bissau, and is used in extremely swift and rhythmically complex dance music. Lyrics are almost always in Guinea-Bissau Creole, a Portuguese-based creole language, and are often humorous and topical, revolving around current events and controversies, especially AIDS. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21XY/Q battery)
The word gumbe is sometimes used generically, to refer to any music of the country, although it most specifically refers to a unique style that fuses about ten of the country's folk music traditions. Tina and tinga are other popular genres, while extent folk traditions include ceremonial music used in funerals, initiations and other rituals, as well as Balanta brosca and kussundé, Mandinga djambadon, and the kundere sound of the Bissagos Islands. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21Z/B battery)
Flora Gomes is an internationally renowned film director; his most famous film is "Nha Fala", English: "My Voice". Gomes' Mortu Nega (Death Denied) (1988) was the first fiction film and the second feature film ever made in Guinea-Bissau. (The first feature film was N’tturudu, by director Umban u’Kest in 1987.) At FESPACO 1989, Mortu Nega won the prestigious Oumarou Ganda Prize. Mortu Nega is in Creole language with English subtitles(Sony VAIO VGN-AW31M/H battery). In 1992, Gomes directed Udju Azul di Yonta,  which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. Mrs. Gomes has also served on the boards of many Africa-centric film festivals.
Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, completely surrounded by its only neighbouring country, the Republic of South Africa. It is just over 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW31S/B battery) Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population live below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day.
Main article: History of Lesotho
The earliest known inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers. They were largely replaced by Wasja-speaking tribes during Bantu migrations. The Sotho-Tswana people colonized the general region of South Africa between the 3rd and 11th centuries(Sony VAIO VGN-AW31XY/Q battery).
The present Lesotho (then called Basutoland) emerged as a single polity under king Moshoeshoe I in 1822. Moshoeshoe, a son of Mokhachane, a minor chief of the Bakoteli lineage, formed his own clan and became a chief around 1804. Between 1821 and 1823, he and his followers settled at the Butha-Buthe Mountain, joining with former adversaries in resistance against the Lifaqane associated with the reign of Shaka Zulu from 1818 to 1828. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW31ZJ/B battery)
Subsequent evolution of the state hinged on conflicts between British and Dutch colonists leaving the Cape Colony following its seizure from the French-allied Dutch by the British in 1795, and subsequently associated with the Orange River Sovereignty and subsequent Orange Free State. Missionaries invited by Moshoeshoe I, Thomas Arbousset, (Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H battery) Eugène Casalis and Constant Gosselin from the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society, placed at Morija, developed orthography and printed works in the Sotho language between 1837 and 1855. Casalis, acting as translator and providing advice on foreign affairs, helped to set up diplomatic channels and acquire guns for use against the encroaching Europeans and the Griqua people. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF battery)
Boer trekkers from the Cape Colony showed up on the western borders of Basutoland and claimed land rights, beginning with Jan de Winnaar, who settled in the Matlakeng area in May–June 1838. As more farmers were moving into the area they tried to colonise the land between the two rivers, even north of the Caledon, claiming that it had been abandoned by the Sotho people(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H battery). Moshoeshoe subsequently signed a treaty with the British Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Thomas Napier that annexed the Orange River Sovereignty that many Boers had settled. These outraged Boers were suppressed in a brief skirmish in 1848. In 1851 a British force was defeated by the Sotho army at Kolonyama, touching off an embarrassing war for the British(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF battery). After repulsing another British attack in 1852, Moshoeshoe sent an appeal to the British commander that settled the dispute diplomatically, then defeated the Tlokoa in 1853.
In 1854 the British pulled out of the region, and in 1858 Moshoeshoe fought a series of wars with the Boers in the Free State-Basotho War, losing a great portion of the western lowlands. The last war in 1867 ended when Moshoeshoe appealed to Queen Victoria(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH/Q battery), who agreed to make Basutoland a British protectorate in 1868. In 1869, the British signed a treaty at Aliwal North with the Boers that defined the boundaries of Basutoland and later Lesotho, which by ceding the western territories effectively reduced Moshoeshoe's kingdom to half its previous size.
Following the cession in 1869, the British initially transferred functions from Moshoeshoe's capital in Thaba Bosiu to a police camp on the northwest border(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH battery), Maseru, until administration of Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony in 1871. Moshoeshoe died on March 11, 1870, marking the end of the traditional era and the beginning of the colonial era, and was buried at Thaba Bosiu. During their rule between 1871 and 1884, Basutoland was treated similarly to territories that had been forcefully annexed, much to the chagrin of the Basotho.(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF/B battery) This led to the Gun War in 1881. In 1884, Basutoland was restored its status as a Crown colony, with Maseru again its capital, but remained under direct rule by a governor, though effective internal power was wielded by traditional chiefs.
1959 stamps for the Basutoland National Council.
Basutoland gained its independence from Britain and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966.
In January 1970 the ruling Basotho National Party (BNP) lost the first post-independence general elections, with 23 seats to the Basutoland Congress Party's 36(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF battery). Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan refused to cede power to the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), declared himself Tona Kholo (Sesotho translation of prime minister), and imprisoned the BCP leadership.
BCP began a rebellion and then received training in Libya for its Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) under the pretense of being Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) soldiers of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) (SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M Battery). Deprived of arms and supplies by the Sibeko faction of the PAC in 1978, the 178-strong LLA was rescued from their Tanzanian base by the financial assistance of a Maoist PAC officer but launched the guerrilla war with only a handful of old weapons. The main force was defeated in northern Lesotho and later guerrillas launched sporadic but usually ineffectual attacks(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31S Battery). The campaign was severely compromised when BCP's leader, Ntsu Mokhehle, went to Pretoria. In the early 1980s, several Basotho who sympathized with the exiled BCP were threatened with death and attacked by the government of Leabua Jonathan. In September 1981 the family of Benjamin Masilo was attacked. A few days later, Edgar Mahlomola Motuba was taken from his home and murdered(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31M Battery).
The BNP ruled from 1966 till January 1970. What later ensued was a "de facto" government led by Dr Leabua Jonathan until 1986 when a military coup forced it out of office. The Military Council that came to power granted executive powers to King Moshoeshoe II, who was until then a ceremonial monarch(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z Battery). But in 1987 the King was forced into exile after coming up with a six-page memorandum on how he wanted the Lesotho's constitution to be, which would have given him more executive powers had the military government agreed. His son was installed as King Letsie III.
The chairman of the military junta, Major General Justin Metsing Lekhanya, was ousted in 1991 and replaced by Major General Elias Phisoana Ramaema(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21Z Battery), who handed over power to a democratically elected government of the BCP in 1993. Moshoeshoe II returned from exile in 1992 as an ordinary citizen. After the return to democratic government, King Letsie III tried unsuccessfully to persuade the BCP government to reinstate his father (Moshoeshoe II) as head of state(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21M Battery).
Makhaleng River Gorges in the Highlands of Lesotho, 2003.
In August 1994, Letsie III staged a military-backed coup that deposed the BCP government, after the BCP government refused to reinstate his father, Moshoeshoe II, according to Lesotho's constitution. The new government did not receive full international recognition. Member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21S Battery)engaged in negotiations to reinstate the BCP government. One of the conditions Letsie III put forward for this was that his father should be re-installed as head of state. After protracted negotiations, the BCP government was reinstated and Letsie III abdicated in favor of his father in 1995, but he ascended the throne again when Moshoeshoe II died at the age of fifty-seven in a supposed road accident(SONY Vaio VGN-NS12S Battery), when his car plunged off a mountain road during the early hours of 15 January 1996. According to a government statement, Moshoeshoe had set out at 1 a.m. to visit his cattle at Matsieng and was returning to Maseru through the Maluti Mountains when his car left the road.
In 1997, the ruling BCP split over leadership disputes. Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle formed a new party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) (SONY Vaio VGN-NS12M Battery), and was followed by a majority of Members of Parliament, which enabled him to form a new government. Pakalitha Mosisili succeeded Mokhehle as party leader and the LCD won the general elections in 1998. Although the elections were pronounced free and fair by local and international observers and a subsequent special commission appointed by SADC, the opposition political parties rejected the results(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11Z Battery).
Opposition protests in the country intensified, culminating in a peaceful demonstration outside the royal palace in August 1998. Exact details of what followed are greatly disputed, both in Lesotho and South Africa. While the Botswana Defence Force troops were welcomed, tensions with South African National Defence Force troops were high(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11M Battery), resulting in fighting. Incidences of sporadic rioting intensified when South African troops hoisted a South African flag over the Royal Palace. By the time the SADC forces withdrew in May 1999, much of Maseru lay in ruins, and the southern provincial capital towns of Mafeteng and Mohale's Hoek had seen the loss of over a third of their commercial real estate. A number of South Africans and Basotho also died in the fighting(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11L Battery).
An Interim Political Authority (IPA), charged with reviewing the electoral structure in the country, was created in December 1998. The IPA devised a proportional electoral system to ensure that the opposition would be represented in the National Assembly. The new system retained the existing 80 elected Assembly seats, but added 40 seats to be filled on a proportional basis(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11J Battery). Elections were held under this new system in May 2002, and the LCD won again, gaining 54% of the vote. But for the first time, opposition political parties won significant numbers of seats, and despite some irregularities and threats of violence from Major General Lekhanya, Lesotho experienced its first peaceful election. Nine opposition parties now hold all 40 of the proportional seats, with the BNP having the largest share (21) (SONY Vaio VGN-NS11E Battery). The LCD has 79 of the 80 constituency-based seats. Although its elected members participate in the National Assembly, the BNP has launched several legal challenges to the elections, including a recount; none have been successful.
Main article: Politics of Lesotho
The Lesotho Government is a parliamentary or constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister, Tom Motsoahae Thabane(SONY Vaio VGN-NS10L Battery), is head of government and has executive authority. The king serves a largely ceremonial function; he no longer possesses any executive authority and is prohibited from actively participating in political initiatives.
The All Basotho Convention (ABC) leads a coalition government in the National Assembly (the lower house of parliament).
The upper house of parliament, called the Senate, is composed of twenty-two principal chiefs whose membership is hereditary, and eleven appointees of the king, acting on the advice of the prime minister(SONY Vaio VGN-NS10J Battery).
The constitution provides for an independent judicial system, made up of the High Court, the Court of Appeal, Magistrate's Courts, and traditional courts that exist predominantly in rural areas. All but one of the Justices on the Court of Appeal are South African jurists. There is no trial by jury; rather, judges make rulings alone, or, in the case of criminal trials, with two other judges as observers(SONY Vaio VGN-NS10E Battery).
The constitution also protects basic civil liberties, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of religion. Lesotho was ranked 12th out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries in the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M/W Battery)
However there is a growing movement, the People's Charter Movement, calling for the practical annexation of the country by South Africa due to the AIDS epidemic which infects a third of the population. The country faces high unemployment, economic collapse, a weak currency and poor travel documents restricting their movement. An African Union report called for economic integration of Lesotho with South Africa but stopped short of suggesting annexation(SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M/P Battery). In May 2010 the Charter Movement delivered a petition to the South African High Commission requesting integration. South Africa's home affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa rejected the idea that Lesotho should be treated as a special case. "It is a sovereign country like South Africa. We sent envoys to our neighbours – Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho – before we enforced the passport rule. When you travel from Britain to South Africa, don't you expect to use a passport?" (SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z/W Battery)
Satellite image of Lesotho
Landscape of Lesotho
Main article: Geography of Lesotho
Lesotho covers 30,355 km2 (11,720 sq mi). It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) in elevation. Its lowest point of 1,400 metres (4,593 ft) is thus the highest in the world. Over 80% of the country lies above 1,800 metres (5,906 ft). Lesotho is also the southernmost landlocked country in the world and is entirely surrounded by the country of South Africa(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z/S Battery). It lies between latitudes 28° and 31°S, and longitudes 27° and 30°E.
Main article: Climate of Lesotho
Because of its altitude, Lesotho remains cooler throughout the year than other regions at the same latitude. Most of the rain falls as summer thunderstorms. Maseru and surrounding lowlands often reach 30 °C (86 °F) in summer. Winters can be cold with the lowlands getting down to −7 °C (19 °F) and the highlands to −18 °C (−0 °F) at times(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z/P Battery). Snow is common in the highlands between May and September; the higher peaks can experience snowfalls year-round.
Main article: Economy of Lesotho
Lesotho is geographically surrounded by South Africa and economically integrated with it as well. The economy of Lesotho is based on agriculture, livestock, manufacturing and mining, and depends heavily (SONY Vaio VGN-NS31S/S Battery)on inflows of workers’ remittances and receipts from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The majority of households subsist on farming. The formal sector employment consist of mainly the female workers in the apparel sector, the male migrant labor, primarily miners in South Africa for 3 to 9 months and employment in the Government of Lesotho (GOL) (SONY Vaio VGN-NS31M/W Battery) . The western lowlands form the main agricultural zone. Almost 50% of the population earn income through informal crop cultivation or animal husbandry with nearly two-thirds of the country's income coming from the agricultural sector. The percentage of the population living below USD Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) US$1.25/day fell from 48 percent to 44 percent between 1995 and 2003. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS31M/P Battery) The country is still among the "Low Human Development" countries (rank 160 of 187 on the Human Development Index) as classified by the UNDP, with 48.2 years of life expectancy at birth. However, adult literacy is very high - 82% and children under weight aged under 5 is only 20%.
The Afri-Ski resort in the Maloti Mountains of Lesotho.
Lesotho has taken advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to become the largest exporter of garments to the US from sub-Saharan Africa. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21Z/S Battery) American Brands and retailers sourcing from Lesotho include: Foot Locker, Gap, Gloria Vanderbilt, JCPenny, Levi Strauss, Saks, Sears, Timberland and Wal-Mart. In mid 2004 its employment reached over 50,000 mainly female workers, marking the first time that manufacturing sector workers outnumbered government employees. In 2008 it exported 487 million dollars mainly to the U.S.A. Since 2004 employment in the sector was somehow reduced to about 45,000(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21S/W Battery), in mid 2011, due to intense international competition in the garment sector. It was the largest formal sector employer in Lesotho in 2011. In 2007, the average earnings of an employee in the textile sector were $103 per month, and the official minimum wage for a general textile worker was $93 per month. The average gross national income per capita in 2008 was $83 per month. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21S/S Battery)The sector initiated a major program to fight HIV/AIDS called Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA). It is an industry-wide program providing prevention and treatment for the workers. (see below HIV)
Water and diamonds are Lesotho's significant natural resources. Water is utilized through the 21-year, multi-billion-dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), under the authority of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21M/W Battery). The project commenced in 1986. The LHWP is designed to capture, store, and transfer water from the Orange River system to South Africa's Free State and greater Johannesburg area, which features a large concentration of South African industry, population, and agriculture. Completion of the first phase of the project has made Lesotho almost completely self-sufficient in the production(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21M/P Battery) of electricity and generated approximately $70 million in 2010 from the sale of electricity and water to South Africa. The World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, and many other bilateral donors financed the project.
Diamonds are produced in Letseng, Mothae, Liqhobong and Kao mines. The sector suffered a set back in 2008 as the result of the world recession but rebounded in 2010 and 2011. Export of diamonds reached $230 million in 2010/11. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS12S/S Battery) In 1957, a South African adventurer, colonel Jack Scott, accompanied by a young man named Keith Whitelock, set out prospecting for diamonds. They found their diamond mine at 3,100 m altitude, on top of the Maluti Mountains in northeastern Lesotho, some 70 km from Mokhotlong at Letseng. In 1967, a 601-carat (120 g) diamond (Lesotho Brown) was discovered in the mountains by a Mosotho woman(SONY Vaio VGN-NS12M/W Battery). In August 2006, a 603-carat (121 g) white diamond (Lesotho Promise) was discovered at the Letseng-la-Terae mine. Another 478-carat (96 g) diamond was discovered at the same location in 2008.
Lesotho’s progress in moving from a predominantly subsistence-oriented economy to a lower middle income, diversified economy exporting natural resources and manufacturing goods has brought higher, more secure incomes to a significant portion of the population. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS12M/S Battery)
The global economic crisis hit the Lesotho economy hard through loss of textile exports and jobs in the sector due largely to the economic slowdown in the United States which is a major export destination, reduced diamond mining and exports, including weak prices for diamonds; drop in SACU revenues due to the economic slowdown in the South African economy(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11Z/S Battery), and reduction in worker remittances due to weakening of the South African economy and contraction of the mining sector and related job losses in South Africa. In 2009, GDP growth slowed to 0.9 percent.
The official currency is the loti (plural: maloti), but can be used interchangeably with the South African rand. Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, and South Africa also form a common currency and exchange control area known as the Common Monetary Area (CMA) (SONY Vaio VGN-NS11ZR/S Battery). The loti is at par with the rand. One hundred lisente equal one loti.
Lesotho is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), in which tariffs have been eliminated on the trade of goods between other member countries Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.
Lesotho has received economic aid from a variety of sources, including the United States, the World Bank, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Germany(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11S/S Battery).
Significant levels of child labor exist in Lesotho, and the country is in the process of formulating an Action Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (APEC). According to the UN, Lesotho has the highest rape rate of any country (91.6 out of 100,000 people).
See also: Demographics of Lesotho
Lesotho has a population of approximately 2,067,000. The population distribution of Lesotho is 25% urban and 75% rural(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11M/S Battery). However, it is estimated that annual increase of urban population is 3.5%. Population density is lower in the highlands than in the western lowlands. Although the majority of the population—60.2%—is between 15 and 64 years of age, Lesotho has a substantial youth population numbering around 34.8%.
Ethnic groups and languages(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11MR/S Battery)
Lesotho's ethno-linguistic structure consists almost entirely of the Basotho, a Bantu-speaking people: an estimate of 99.7% of the people identify as Basotho. Basotho subgroups include the Bakuena (Kuena), Batloung (the Tlou), Baphuthi (the Phuti), Bafokeng, Bataung (the Tau), Batšoeneng (the Tšoene), Matebele, etc(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11L/S Battery).
The main language, Sesotho (or Sotho), is also the first official and administrative language, and it is what Basotho speak on an ordinary basis. English is the other official and administrative language.
Main article: Religion in Lesotho
The population of Lesotho is estimated to be around 90% Christian. Protestants represent 45% of the population (Evangelicals 26%, and Anglican and other Protestant groups an additional 19%), and Roman Catholics represent 45 percent of the population(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11J/S Battery). Members of other religions (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha'i, and members of traditional indigenous religions) comprise the remaining 10% of the population.
Education and literacy
Children in class at Ha Nqabeni primary school
An estimated 85% of the population 15 and over is literate, according to recent estimates. As such, Lesotho boasts one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, in part because Lesotho invests over 12% of its GDP in education. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS11E/S Battery) Contrary to most countries, in Lesotho female literacy (94.5%) is higher than male literacy. According to a study by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality in 2000, 37% of grade 6 pupils in Lesotho (average age 14 years) are at or above reading level 4, "Reading for Meaning." A pupil at this level of literacy can read ahead or backwards through various parts of text to link and interpret information. Although education is not compulsory(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11ER/S Battery), the Government of Lesotho is incrementally implementing a program for free primary education.
Despite having a highly literate population, Lesotho's residents struggle to access vital services, such as healthcare, travel, and educational resources, as according to the International Telecommunication Union, only 3.4% of the population use the Internet(SONY Vaio VGN-NS115N/S Battery). A service from Econet Telecom Lesotho expanded the country’s access to email via entry level, low end mobile phones and consequently improved access to educational information. The African Library Project works to establish school and village libraries in partnership with US Peace Corps Lesotho and the Butha Buthe District of Education.
Infant mortality is at about 8.3%. There are 5 physicians per 100,000 persons. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS110E/W Battery)
Main article: HIV/AIDS in Lesotho
Lesotho is severely afflicted by HIV/AIDS. According to 2009 estimates, the prevalence is about 23.6%, one of the highest in the world. In urban areas, about 50% of women under 40 have HIV. The UNDP stated that in 2006 life expectancy in Lesotho was estimated at 42 years for men and women. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS110E/S Battery)
The country regards HIV as one of its most important development issues, and the Government is addressing the pandemic through its HIV/AIDS National Strategic Plan. Coverage of some key HIV/AIDS interventions has improved, including prevention of mother to child transmission and antiretroviral therapy. Prevention of mother to child transmission coverage increased from about 5 percent in 2005, to 31 percent in 2007. The roll-out of antiretroviral therapy has made good progress, with 38,586 people receiving treatment by 2008. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS110E/L Battery)
The “Know Your Status” campaign boosted the number of people being tested for HIV to 229,092 by the end of 2007, 12 percent of the population and three times the number tested in 2005. The program is funded by the Clinton Foundation and started in June 2006. Bill Clinton and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates visited Lesotho in July 2006 to assess its fight against AIDS. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS10L/S Battery)] As a result, the annual rate at which adults in the population who are HIV-negative become HIV-positive declined from 2.9 percent in 2005 to 2.3 percent in 2007, lowering the estimated annual number of new infections from 26,000 to 21,560. These are the first signs of a decline in the HIV epidemic. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS10J/S Battery)
The Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA) is an industry-wide program providing prevention and treatment, including ARVs when these are necessary, for the 46,000 mainly women workers in the Lesotho apparel industry. It was launched in May 2006. The program is helping to combat two of the key drivers of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: poverty and gender inequality. Surveys within the industry by ALAFA show that 43% of the employees have HIV. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS10E/S Battery)
The flag used by Lesotho until October 2006.
Main article: Foreign relations of Lesotho
Lesotho's geographic location makes it extremely vulnerable to political and economic developments in South Africa. It is a member of many regional economic organizations, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). It is also active in the United Nations (UN), the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, and many other international organizations. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/W battery)
Prince Seeiso Hirohr Seeiso is the present High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the Court of St. James's. The UN is represented by a resident mission as well, including UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, FAO, WFP, and UNAIDS.
Historically, Lesotho has maintained generally close ties with Ireland.
Lesotho also has maintained ties with the United Kingdom (Wales in particular), Germany, the United States and other Western states(Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/S battery). Although in 1990 it broke relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and re-established relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan), it later restored ties with the PRC.
Lesotho also recognizes the State of Palestine.
In the past, it was a strong public opponent of apartheid in South Africa and granted a number of South African refugees political asylum during the apartheid era. (Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/P battery)
Lesotho does not have a single code containing its laws; it draws them from a variety of sources including: Constitution, Legislation, Common Law, Judicial precedent, Customary Law, and Authoritative texts.
The Constitution of Lesotho came into force after the publication of the Commencement Order. Constitutionally, legislation refers to laws that have been passed by both houses of parliament and have been assented to by the King (section 78(1)) (Sony VAIO VGN-SR39D battery). Subordinate legislation refers to laws passed by other bodies to which parliament has by virtue of section 70(2) of the Constitution validly delegated such legislative powers. These include government gazettes, ministerial orders, ministerial regulations and municipal bye-laws.
Although Lesotho shares with South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe a mixed general legal system which resulted from the interaction between the Roman-Dutch Civilian law and the English Common Law(Sony VAIO VGN-SR39D/Q battery), its general law operates independently. Lesotho also applies the common law, which refers to unwritten law or law from non-statutory sources, but excludes customary law. Decisions from South African courts are only persuasive, and courts refer to them in formulating their decisions. Decisions from similar jurisdictions can also be cited for their persuasive value(Sony VAIO VGN-SR39D/J battery). Magistrates’ courts decisions do not become precedent since these are lower courts. They are however bound by decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. At the apex of the Lesotho justice system is the Court of Appeal, which is the final appellate forum on all matters. It has a supervisory and review jurisdiction over all the courts of Lesotho.
Lesotho has a dual legal system consisting of customary and general laws operating side by side. Customary law is made up of the customs of the Basotho(Sony VAIO VGN-SR38/Q battery), written and codified in the Laws of Lerotholi whereas general law consists of Roman Dutch Law imported from the Cape and the Lesotho statutes. The codification of customary law came about after a council was appointed in 1903 to advise the British Resident Commissioner on what was best for the Basotho in terms of laws that would govern them(Sony VAIO VGN-SR38/P battery). Until this time, the Basotho customs and laws were passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition. The council was then given the task of codifying them, came up with the Laws of Lerotholi which are applied by customary courts today (local courts). Written works of eminent authors have persuasive value in the courts of Lesotho. These include writings of the old authorities as well as contemporary writers from similar jurisdictions(Sony VAIO VGN-SR38/B battery).
Retsilisitsoe Nthunya wrapped in a Basotho blanket.
See also: Music of Lesotho and List of African writers (by country)
Traditional musical instruments include lekolulo, a kind of flute used by herding boys, setolo-tolo, played by men using their mouth, and the woman's stringed thomo.
The national anthem of Lesotho is "Lesotho Fatše La Bo-ntata Rona", which literally translates into "Lesotho, Land Of Our Fore-Fathers"(Sony VAIO VGN-SR37TN/B battery).
The traditional style of housing in Lesotho is called a mokhoro. Many older houses, especially in smaller towns and villages, are of this type, with walls usually constructed from large stones cemented together. Baked mud bricks and especially concrete blocks are also used nowadays, with thatched roofs still common, although often replaced by corrugated roofing sheets(Sony VAIO VGN-SR35T/S battery).
Traditional attire revolves around the Basotho blanket, a thick covering made primarily of wool. The blankets are ubiquitous throughout the country during all seasons, and worn differently for men and women.
The Morija Arts & Cultural Festival is a prominent Sesotho arts and music festival. It is held annually in the historical town of Morija, where the first missionaries arrived in 1833(Sony VAIO VGN-SR35T/P battery).