Living in Lesotho guide for expats

All the information you need to relocate and live in Lesotho.

About Lesotho

Lesotho is famous for its scenic beauty, stemming from its mountain ranges with their towering peaks, narrow valleys, crystal clear rivers and waterfalls. Two-thirds of Lesotho is made up of mountains, and its southern, central, and northeastern highlands are known for their world-class hiking opportunities. Despite its thinly settled areas of mountainous terrain, the population density of Lesotho is high for an African nation, and over 2.2 million people living in the 30,355km² enclave.

This landlocked mountain kingdom won its independence from England in 1966, and its official languages are English and Sesotho (or Sotho), although minority languages of Zulu, Phuthi, and Xhosa are also spoken. English is spoken for governmental and business affairs, and it is the language used in secondary schools. Sesotho is used for primary education and is the native language of the Basotho ethnic group, which form the majority of the country's population. Many children are only able to complete primary school, so aren't able to learn English, although bilingualism is encouraged. Over 85% of the population speaks Sesotho as a first language, so the language is commonly used in the media, religious services, and even politics.

Christian missions have left their mark in Lesotho over the years, as Christianity is the main religion practised in the country (over 80% of the population is of a Christian denomination, the largest of which is Roman Catholic).

Lesotho has endured decades of turbulent politics and periods of economic crisis. Agriculture used to be a major contributor to the GDP, and most of the rural population is involved in subsistence agriculture, but various droughts and extensive erosion have drastically reduced possibilities. Resources are scarce, which is due to the harsh environment of the highland plateau and limited agricultural space in the lowlands. Although there are cattle-raising and agricultural industries, only one-tenth of the country is arable, and the economy is still very much dependent on South Africa.

However, the infrastructure of the country's three stunning national parks continues to improve, and tourism has contributed significantly. The capital of Maseru has developed into one of Southern Africa's most attractive cities.

Revenues from the country's diamond industry have increased, and the 'Lesotho Promise' is one of the world's largest diamonds. In 2004, Lesotho launched the first phase of the multi-billion dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which is a large-scale water transfer scheme that exports water to South Africa, creating a vital income stream while producing hydroelectric power for Lesotho.

Considering that unemployment is high and a good chunk of the working population has had to find jobs across the border, it is not easy for an expat to find work in Lesotho. However, many development projects are funded by a wide range of agencies, so there are potential employment opportunities in the NGO sector and, as diamonds are one of Lesotho's main export earners, mining executives may also be able to find work here.

Quick Information

Official Languages : Sotho, Southern , Zulu , Xhosa
Currency : Loti
Area : 30355 Km2
Population : 1919552
Calling Code : +266
Timezone : Africa/Maseru

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