Continent Lesotho

Continents

Why Travel Lesotho?

Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa, is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and mountain ranges including the 3,482m-high peak of Thabana Ntlenyana. On the Thaba Bosiu plateau, near Lesotho's capital, Maseru, are ruins dating from the 19th-century reign of King Moshoeshoe I. Thaba Bosiu overlooks iconic Mount Qiloane, an enduring symbol of the nation’s Basotho people. It is an enclaved country in southern Africa, completely surrounded by South Africa. It is just over 30,000 km2 in size and has a population of around 2 million. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Previously known as Basutoland, Lesotho declared independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966. It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. There are known to be 339 bird species in Lesotho, including 10 globally threatened species and 2 introduced species, 17 reptile species, including geckos, snakes and lizards, and 60 mammal species endemic to Lesotho, including the endangered white-tailed rat. Lesotho flora is Alpine, due to the high and mountainous terrain. The Katse Botanical Gardens houses a collection of medicinal plants and has a large seed bank of plants from the Malibamat'so River area. Diamonds are produced at the Letseng, Mothae, Liqhobong and Kao mines, which combined are estimated to produce 240,000 carats of diamonds in 2014, worth $300 million. The Letseng mine is estimated to produce diamonds with an average value of $2172/carat, making it the worlds richest mine on an average price per-carat basis. The sector suffered a set back in 2008 as the result of the world recession but rebounded in 2010 and 2011. Export of diamonds reached $230 million in 2010/11. In August 2006, a 603-carat (120.6 g) white diamond, the Lesotho Promise, was discovered at the Letseng-la-Terae mine. Another 478-carat (95.6 g) diamond was discovered at the same location in 2008. Lesotho is severely afflicted by HIV/AIDS. According to 2009 estimates, the prevalence is about 23.6%, one of the highest in the world. In urban areas, about 50% of women under 40 have HIV. The UNDP stated that in 2006 life expectancy in Lesotho was estimated at 42 years for men and women.

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