Country of the World Lesotho

About the country Lesotho, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: A mountainous, landlocked country with frequent heavy snowfall in the higher regions in winter, Lesotho is completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa and its client state, the Transkei.

Size: 11,720 sq. mi. (30,355 sq. km.).

Population: 1.1 million.

Who Rules: The Basuto National party, led by Chief Leabua Jonathan, is in complete authority in the country. The BNP seized power in 1970 after an election had ousted it as the majority party. Parliament has been suspended since that time. The king of Lesotho, who under the constitution had powers greater than those of the prime minister, was forced into exile for a while but was allowed to return as a mere figurehead.

Who REALLY Rules: Chief Leabua Jonathan and a few close advisers have kept a tight rein on the country through emergency measures which make it illegal for a citizen to "embarrass" the government. Under this imprecise regulation, people who criticize the government in any way are liable to be imprisoned or worse. Hundreds of Basuto have been forced to flee to Botswana and Zambia in the past few years because of Jonathan's periodic crackdowns on dissidents.

Approximately 40% of the adult males of Lesotho work in South Africa under contract.

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