|Who are the people?|
Lesotho’s population is largely comprised of Basotho people, who are of Bantu origin. Sesotho and English are the country’s official languages.
In spite of generally poor agricultural conditions and a lack of equipment, 80 percent of the people survive by farming. Unfortunately, overdevelopment of Lesotho has created an environmental tragedy. Many hillsides are totally bare. Clearing of trees, overgrazing, shallow soil, steep terrain, and heavy seasonal rain have all contributed to severe soil erosion, a subsequent loss of agriculture. Nevertheless, for many people, the only option is to try to make a living from working the land.
Corn is Lesotho’s leading crop, but wheat, sorghum, barley, and beans also are important. Because of low crop yields, however, Lesotho must import food from other countries, primarily South Africa. Cattle, ponies, sheep, and goats are raised for domestic purposes, while wool and mohair are the major agricultural exports.
Primary education in Lesotho is not free. While Lesotho has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, only about two-thirds of school-age children attend class and very few advance beyond primary school.
What is it like to live there?
Lesotho is a small, landlocked country surrounded entirely by South Africa. Life is a struggle for almost everyone due to poor farmland, lack of industry, and limited natural resources. Lesotho is heavily dependent upon South Africa for manufactured goods, transportation links, and employment. With few jobs in Lesotho, many men go to work in South Africa’s gold mines. This means women have had to take on more responsibility for managing the households.
|Lesotho’s climate contrasts with the hot conditions found in many African countries. Summers are warm, but because of the high altitude and the country’s position south of the equator, winters are cold. At times, temperatures even drop below zero.|
Most of Lesotho is comprised of hills and mountains, leaving only 10 percent of the land suitable for agriculture. This makes survival difficult for the many families who try to make a living from the crops they grow. Two-thirds of domestic income is from subsistence farming.
Clean water is a valuable and limited commodity in Lesotho; nearly 25 percent of the population lacks access to safe water and waterborne diseases are common. Tragically, 1 of every 16 children dies before their first birthday.
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