Economy overview: Lesotho is a small, mountainous, landlocked country; its only natural resource is water. The economy is based on agriculture, livestock and remittances from miners working in South Africa. Over the past few years, the number of these miners has been steadily declining. The underdeveloped industrial sector depends mainly on farming, which provides raw materials for the flour milling, canning, leather and jute industries. Agricultural products are exported mainly to the Republic of South Africa. The bulk of Lesotho’s government revenue comes from membership in a common customs union with South Africa. Although the activity of the agricultural sector has decreased over the past few years due to a prolonged drought, the completion of a large hydroelectric power plant in January 1998 now allows water to be sold to the Republic of South Africa; water trade can become a source of income for Lesotho. The pace of vatization has increased in recent years. In December 1999, the government launched a nine-month IMF-supervised program aimed at restructuring and stabilizing macroeconomic indicators. The government continues to prepare for the implementation of the next three-year program with the IMF to reduce poverty and stimulate growth. See cheeroutdoor.com to know more about Lesotho Business.
GDP: at purchasing power parity – $5.1 billion (2000 est.).
Real GDP growth rate: 2.5% (2000 est.).
GDP per capita: at purchasing power parity – $2,400 (2000 est.).
The composition of GDP by sectors of the economy: agriculture: 18%; industry: 38%; services: 44% (1999).
Proportion of population below the poverty line: 49.2% (1999 est.).
Percentage distribution of family income or consumption: per 10% of the poorest families: 0.9%; on the top 10% of families: 43.4% (1986-87).
Inflation rate at consumer prices: 6% (2000 est.).
Labor force: 700,000 economically active population.
Employment structure: 86% of the local population is engaged in subsistence agriculture; Approximately 35% of able-bodied men work in South Africa.
Unemployment rate: 45% (2000 est.).
Budget: revenues: $76 million; expenses: $80 million, including capital expenditures of $15 million (FY99-2000 est.).
Spheres of economy: production of food products and drinks, textile industry, handicraft production; construction; tourism.
Growth in industrial production: 15.5% (1997 est.).
Electricity generation: 0 kWh; note – electricity is supplied from South Africa (1999).
Sources of electricity generation: fossil fuels: 0%; hydropower: 0%; nuclear fuel: 0%; others: 0% (1999).
Electricity consumption: 55 million kWh (1999).
Electricity export: 0 kWh (1999).
Electricity import: 55 million kWh (1999).
Agricultural products: corn, wheat, legumes, sorghum, barley; livestock.
Exports: $175 million (free on board, 2000 est.)
Exports: manufactured goods 75% (clothing, footwear, transport), wool and mohair, food and livestock (1998).
Export Partners: South African Customs Union 65%, North America 34% (1998).
Imports: $700 million (free on board, 2000 est.)
Import articles: Food; building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, oil products (1995).
Import partners: South African Customs Union 90%, Asia 7% (1997).
External debt: $720 million (2000 est.). Economic aid recipient: $123.7 million (1995)
Donor of Economic Assistance:
Currency: Loti; Rand of South Africa.
Currency code: LSL; ZAR.
Exchange rate: LSL/USD – 7.78307 (January 2001), 6.93983 (2000), 6.10948 (1999), 5.52828 (1998), 4.60796 (1997), 4.29935 (1996); note – the Lesotho loti is equal to the South African rand, which is also legal tender.
Fiscal year: April 1-March 31.
Telecommunications Telephone lines: 20,000 (1997).
Mobile cellular telephones: 1,262 (1996).
Telephone system: in its infancy; domestic: consists of several landlines, a small microwave radio relay system and a very small radiotelephone system; international: satellite earth stations – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean).
Broadcast stations: AM – 1, FM – 2, shortwave – 1 (1998).
Radio receivers: 104,000 (1997).
Television broadcast stations: 1 (2000).
TVs: 54,000 (1997).
Internet country code: ls
Internet service providers: 1 (2000).
Number of users: 1000 (2000).
Transport Railways: total length: 2.6 km; note – the tracks are owned and used by South Africa and are included in the total length of its tracks; narrow gauge: 2.6 km (1.067 m gauge) (1995).
Roads: total length: 4,955 km; coated: 887 km; unpaved: 4,068 km (1996 est.).
Ports and harbours: none.
Airports: 29 (2000 est.).
Airports with paved runways: total: 4; over 3,047 m: 1; from 914 to 1523 m:1; less than 914 m: 2 (2000 est.).
Airports with unpaved runways: total: 25; from 914 to 1523 m:4; less than 914 m: 21 (2000 est.).
Branches of the armed forces: Lesotho Defense Force (LDF), which includes the army and air force, Royal Lesotho Mounted Police (RLMP).
Total military manpower: male 15 to 49: 515,464 (2001 est.).
Eligible for military service: males aged 15 to 49: 277,369 (2001 est.).
Number of persons reaching military age each year:
Military spending in dollar terms: $34 million (1999).
Military spending as part of GDP: no data available.