Often called “The Kingdom in the Sky,” or, “The Roof of Africa,” Lesotho is a landlocked country completely encased by South Africa. This mountainous kingdom is comprised primarily of highland plateaus, causing many villages to be isolated–reachable only by light aircraft, horseback, or on foot. The Kingdom of Lesotho has a population of 2.2 million people.
The people of Lesotho speak primarily Sesotho and English. The Sesotho language has an extensive written body of literature as it was one of the earliest African languages to emerge in written form. Thus, music, dance and literature are often combined in traditional Sotho performances. These cultural productions often weave the retelling of ancient folktales with chanting, singing, clapping and high-kicking dances. Stringed instruments, whistles, rattles and drums are just some of the instruments that grace traditional Sotho performances.
Lesotho is a developing country. Thus, the survival of its people is heavily reliant on its natural resources. The highlands that comprise most of Lesotho are environmentally harsh. As such, the lowlands of this alpine country have very limited agricultural space. Lesotho is heavily dependent on South Africa. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (“LHWP”) was fully initiated in the 1990s. The primary purpose of LHWP is to transfer water to South Africa. Although proceeds from this project account for 75% of Lesotho’s budget, as a result of recent droughts, the country has seen its crops wither as its water is transported to South Africa. Due to uncontrolled grazing and rushing surface water, much of Lesotho has been stripped of its natural grass cover. Desertification, soil erosion and soil exhaustion are major problems in Lesotho. Additionally, unlike in South Africa, the game and wildlife indigenous to Lesotho is sparse.
Lesotho’s head of state is King Letsie III, but the monarch has no executive or legislative powers. The prime minister of Lesotho is Pakalitha Mosisili I. Mr. Mosisili’s Democratic Congress formed Lesotho’s second consecutive coalition government.
Lesotho’s most popular entertainment medium is radio. Residents of Lesotho can receive domestic stations as well as TV and radio broadcasts from South Africa. Radio Lesotho is the kingdom’s only national station. However, commercial and private radio broadcasts are on air as well. Media freedom is generally respected in Lesotho and private press is allowed to voice opposition views. Of the 2.2 million residents of Lesotho, there were less than 84,000 internet users by December of 2011.