Lesotho is a small, mountainous, independent nation completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 4,500 feet in elevation; in fact, 80 percent of the country lies above 5,900 feet.

  • Population: 2,171,000
  • Life Expectancy: 48 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 85%
  • School Enrollment: 73%
  • Land Mass: 11,720 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 90%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 85/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 1,080

Facts about Lesotho

Economic Development

Severe droughts in recent years and erratic weather patterns have hurt the economy, which mainly relies on agricultural production.

Food & Agriculture

The cereal harvest has continually decreased since 2006, and Lesotho was the only country in Southern Africa to harvest less in 2009 than 2008.

Economic Development

Over 40 percent of the Basotho are unemployed, and almost half live below the poverty line.


Lesotho has the world’s third-highest HIV prevalence rate at 23 percent. More than 270,000 people are living with HIV and AIDS, and over 100,000 children have lost one or both parents to the disease. The consistently high HIV and AIDS rates have also hurt the economy by making many farmers too weak to work.

Lesotho flag


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Progress in Lesotho

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Trained communities to develop disaster preparedness plans that include first aid and decision-making strategies.

  • Educated youth about on beekeeping practices and farmers on crop production, management, and marketing to increase their household income.

  • Constructed new classrooms so more children could attend school, and built a footbridge so children could get across a stream on the way to school during the rainy season.

  • Increased food security in communities by supplying farmers with seeds, tools, animal feed, and veterinary care for their livestock.

  • Supported vulnerable children and people living with HIV and AIDS by providing them with food, helping with school fees, and offering medical assistance.

  • Reduced waterborne diseases in communities by building clean water systems and new latrines, and by teaching hygiene sessions in schools.

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    World Vision in Lesotho Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Lesotho to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision's child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 21,200 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Lesotho. Highlights include:

    • Ensuring children have access to quality education in improved facilities.
    • Increasing economic development by helping hardworking self-employed parents to increase their incomes in order to feed, educate, and provide healthcare for their children.

    World Vision History in Lesotho

    World Vision child sponsorship in Lesotho dates back to 1976, with child sponsorship programs in two schools; an office was opened in 1987. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Providing nutritional programs, clean drinking water, and sanitation facilities, as well as meeting farming needs during the 1980s.
    • Supplying meals for malnourished children and offering women vocational training to help them generate income in the late 1980s through the 1990s.
    • Distributing food, toiletries, and fuel and offering recovery assistance programs to families affected by the Southern Africa food crisis in the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Lesotho is a small, mountainous, independent nation completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 4,500 feet in elevation—in fact, 80 percent of the country lies above 5,900 feet.

    Due to its altitude, Lesotho remains cool throughout most of the year. The nation’s most important, yet scarce, resource is water for hydroelectricity. Other natural resources include farming and grazing land, sand, clay, building stone, and diamonds.

    The Basotho make up over 99 percent of Lesotho’s population and have lived in Southern Africa for nearly 600 years. Sesotho and English are both official languages, while Zulu, Xhosa, and French also are spoken.

    In rural areas, many extended families live together in a compound. The compound includes several buildings, a garden, and living space for animals. Everyone contributes to the upkeep and maintenance by doing chores, cooking, caring for the animals, and other tasks.


    After 100 years under British protection, Lesotho became an independent nation in October 1966 with King Moshoeshoe II as sovereign. Political unrest after the 1970 elections led to a revision of the constitution and a lessening of the king’s power in politics.

    In February 1990, the chairman of the military council stripped the king of his executive power, paving the way for Moshoeshoe’s son to be sworn in as King Letsie III.

    Hundreds of demonstrators demanded new parliamentary elections in 1998. Riots destroyed nearly 80 percent of commercial infrastructure in major towns and stalled what had been a steadily growing economy. Troops from South Africa and Botswana entered the country to suppress a mutiny.

    Lesotho held peaceful elections in 2002, but disputes continue over recent elections.

    Prayer Requests for Lesotho

    • Rains to come and ease Lesotho’s drought.
    • Children to succeed in school, even in crowded classrooms.
    • Political peace and stability in the coming years.
    • Families struggling with poverty and hunger.