Country Information

 

The Loti, denoted by LSL, is the official currency of the Kingdom of Lesotho in Africa. The Loti (plural "maloti") is subdivided into 100 lisente (singular "sente"). The LSL is pegged to the South African Rand on a 1:1 basis and both currencies are considered legal tender within Lesotho. Coins in circulation include 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 and 500 lisente. Banknotes in circulation include 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 maloti. The import and export of local and foreign currency is unrestricted.

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Political Structure

The government of Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister, who has executive authority, leads the government. The King, however, serves a mostly ceremonial function, as he no longer possesses any executive authority and is excluded from actively participating in political initiatives. The National Assembly is the lower house of parliament which is controlled by the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD); the Assembly represents the Basotho National Party (BNP), Lesotho Peoples Congress, and the National Independent Party. The upper house of parliament, called the Senate, is composed of 22 principal chiefs whose membership is hereditary, and 11 appointees of the King, acting on the advice of the prime minister. The constitution provides for an independent judicial system. The judiciary is made up of the Court of Appeal, the High Court, Magistrate's Courts, and traditional courts that exist predominately in rural areas. All but one of the Justices on the Court of Appeal is South African. There is no trial by jury; rather, judges make rulings alone, or, in the case of criminal trials, with two other judges as observers. The constitution also protects basic civil liberties, including freedom of speech, association, and the press; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of religion.

Prominent Figures

Chief of State King LETSIE III (since 7 February 1996); note - King LETSIE III formerly occupied the throne from November 1990 to February 1995 while his father was in exile Head of Government Prime Minister Pakalitha MOSISILI (since 23 May 1998) Cabinet Cabinet Elections according to the constitution, the leader of the majority party in the Assembly automatically becomes prime minister; the monarch is hereditary, but, under the terms of the constitution that came into effect after the March 1993 election, the monarch is a "living symbol of national unity" with no executive or legislative powers; under traditional law the college of chiefs has the power to depose the monarch, determine who is next in the line of succession, or who shall serve as regent in the event that the successor is not of mature age

Key Economic Factors

Economic Overview:

Lesotho is a small, landlocked and mountainous region which relies heavily on remittances from miners employed in South Africa and customs duties from the South Africa Customs Union for the majority of its government revenue. Despite this, however, the government has strengthened its tax system to reduce dependency on customs duties. Another important change is that the nation can now sell water to South Africa, after completing a major hydropower facility in January 1998. As the number of mineworkers has seriously declined over the years, a small manufacturing base has developed (based on farm products that support the milling, canning, leather and jute industries) as well as a rapidly growing apparel-assembly sector. As Lesotho has qualified for trade benefits contained in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, the nation's garment industry has grown substantially. The economy is still primarily based on subsistence agriculture, especially livestock, although drought has decreased agricultural activity. The extreme inequality in the distribution of income remains a major drawback. Lesotho has signed an Interim Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF.

Overview:

Food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction and tourism.

Agricultural Products:

Corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley and livestock.

Export Commodities:

Manufactures 75% (clothing, footwear, road vehicles), wool and mohair and food and live animals (as of 2000).

Import Commodities:

Food, building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines and petroleum products (as of 2000).

Exchange Rates

LSL
AUD
CAD
EUR
JPY
GBP
USD
1 LSL
=
10.090.0870.066.8980.0490.067
1 AUD
=
11.11610.9630.66976.6840.5450.746
1 CAD
=
11.5391.03810.69579.5990.5660.774
1 EUR
=
16.611.4941.441114.5840.8141.114
1 JPY
=
0.1450.0130.0130.00910.0070.01
1 GBP
=
20.41.8351.7681.228140.72511.368
1 USD
=
14.9081.3411.2920.897102.8380.7311

Travel

FLIGHTS from WASHINGTON to LESOTHO Price
Maseru Starting from
$1,323

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