Lesotho, known as the Mountain Kingdom or ‘Kingdom in the Sky’, holds a wealth of different experiences in store for those who visit. Mountains, valleys and rivers present unforgettable panoramas to those prepared to make the journey. Not only are the mountains the source of Lesotho’s crystal-clear water, but diamonds are also amongst the many minerals found there. The ‘Kingdom in the Sky’ nickname comes from the fact that it is the only country in the world where the entire country is 1 000m or more above sea level.
Lesotho is a unique land-locked country in that it is completely surrounded by South Africa. King Letsie III rules this Unitarian state, which has a constitutional monarchy and combined parliamentary system. It has a population of just over 2 million and virtually everyone in the country is a member of the Basotho tribe – the so-called ‘Blanket People’. For the most part, Lesotho is predominantly a Christian country, with Sesotho and English being the official languages.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a multibillion Maloti (equivalent to the South African Rand) bi-national water resources development and management initiative. The project was established by a treaty signed between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa in 1986 as a priority and strategy to reduce poverty, stimulate economic growth and improve the livelihoods of the people of both countries.
Lesotho has taken advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and has become the largest exporter of clothing to the United States from sub-Saharan Africa. US brands and retailers who have outsourced to Lesotho include: Foot Locker, Gap, Gloria Vanderbilt, J.C Penny, Levi Strauss, Saks, Sears, Timberland and Wal-Mart. By mid 2004 the textile industry employed more than 50 000, mostly female, workers. This was the first time that the manufacturing sector workers outnumbered government employees.