Lesotho is a landlocked independent republic with a democratic government situated within the borders of South Africa. It forms part of the Southern African region. The capital city is Maseru. Other major towns are Mafateng and Leribe.
The official language is Sesotho but English is widely spoken in business and commerce. The local currency is the Loti (plural Maluti) which is linked to the South African Rand. (US$ / Maluti – current exchange rate).
Lesotho is a small country that is surrounded by South Africa. It has few natural resources other than water. Most of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture and about one third of the male labor force works in South Africa on the mines and in other industries, although migrant labor is decreasing. In the mid 1990s the country boasted impressive economic performance, however major conflict within the country left the economy severely damaged in the late 1990s due to the destruction of businesses and homes and the loss of human life.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which sells water to South Africa, has aided the economic growth in the country. There has also been growth in the manufacture sector of the economy.
The Lesotho oil industry is one of the key elements in the economy of the country. While the country does not have any commercial oil or natural gas deposits, its downstream oil industry is well-developed with 5 international oil companies active in the market.
There is a fledgling mining industry in Lesotho which has known deposits of uranium and a diamond mine.
Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility, Lesotho Electricity Corporation.
The international time zone for Lesotho is GMT +2 and the international dialing code is +266. The principal airlines which fly to Lesotho are Air Botswana and Royal Swazi Air. Visitors to Lesotho do not require visas for stays of less than 30 days. Commonwealth citizens, except those from Australia, Canada, Ghana, India, New Zealand, Nigeria and Pakistan, do not require visas for Lesotho. Lesotho belongs to the South African Common Monetary Area (CMA). The country does not have its own exchange rate policy and there are no controls on exchange flows within the area. There are no controls on exports except for diamonds, for which a license is needed.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid fever can be contracted in Lesotho. All prescription medicines should be obtained before entering Lesotho.