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: 2,051,500
  • Life Expectancy: 49 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 78%
  • School Enrollment: 75%
  • Land Mass: 11,720 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 76%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 100/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 1,380

Facts about Lesotho

Food & Agriculture

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

Economic Development

Lesotho has a high unemployment rate, exceeding 25 percent.


AIDS is one of the most common causes of mortality among adults. The disease has resulted in around 180,000 orphans, which is among the highest in the world.

Child Protection

Human trafficking is also an increasing problem in Lesotho.

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 2014.

  • Children, parents, and community leaders were trained in child rights and prevention of child abuse to ensure the protection of children.

  • We partnered with churches to strengthen the spiritual lives of community members through Bible schools, reconciliation workshops, and care team trainings.

  • With our help, communities established disaster preparedness plans to mitigate the impact of natural disasters such as droughts.

  • High school students improved their math and reading skills after we provided them with new textbooks and organized school competitions for them in these subjects.

  • We increased food security year round by training families to grow their own fruits and vegetables and to preserve extra food through drying and canning methods.

  • We empowered community members, church leaders, children, and youth to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS and care for those affected by HIV and AIDS.

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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 23,900 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.
    • Helping enhance good health for people living with HIV by implementing nutrition programs.
    • Helping build over 70 houses for orphans to protect them from harsh weather conditions.

    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

    • Please pray for continued partnerships to build clean water systems and provide sanitary latrines in homes and schools.
    • Pray also for families cultivating small gardens to be able to feed their children and prevent malnutrition.