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Lesotho (the Kingdom of Lesotho) is a land-locked country entirely surrounded (and thus is an enclave) by South Africa.

The original inhabitants of the area known as Basutoland were nomadic hunter-gatherers of the San people. In 1822 the Bakoteli clan settled and it became a kingdom. Conflicts between British and Dutch colonists established Basutoland as a place of refuge with French missionaries providing advice on diplomacy with European powers. With the Dutch trying to colonise the west the king signed a treaty with the British. The Dutch Boers were subsequently suppressed but in 1851 the British tried to take control.

Finally in 1868, at the king’s request, it became a British protectorate with half annexed by the Boers. Run at first by the Cape Colony, internal power was restored to traditional chiefs in 1884. Basutoland gained independence from the UK in 1966 and became Lesotho.

It was ruled by a de facto government, overturned in a military coup in 1986, then handed back to an elected government in 1993. In 2002 a semi-stable government was established although another abortive military coup took place in 2014. The weak economy of Lesotho depends on agriculture, manufacturing and mining and on worker remittances from South Africa.

With its lowest point being 1,400m, Lesotho is the only independent country in the world that lies entirely above 1,000m. In fact over 80% of the country lies above 1,800m.

The mountains are made up of a huge volume of Jurassic volcanics that penetrated the continental Karoo basin that covered much of southern Africa prior to that time.

This geology is unsuitable for oil and gas accumulations and Lesotho thus has no identified indigenous oil or gas resources and Globalshift believes it is unlikely to achieve any production in the future. Only one oil and gas exploration well has been drilled in the country.

Geography, and oil and gas summary

LESOTHO - Map and National Flag

South and East Africa

Lesotho

Geology

E and P

News Briefs

Lesotho

Capital: Maseru

Population: 2.1 million     

SOUTH AND EAST AFRICA

Soil survey for diamonds

Brief history of the country

Land area (sq kms)

Oil prod (000s b/d)

Gas prod (bcm/yr)

Oil cons (000s b/d)

Gas cons (bcm/yr)

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30,355

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None

3

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The Lesotho Government is a parliamentary monarchy with the Prime Minister as head of government with executive authority. The monarch serves a ceremonial function only.

The upper house of parliament is called the Senate, composed of 22 hereditary chiefs and 11 appointees. The 120-member National Assembly is the lower house of parliament.

There is no government department in Lesotho responsible for oil and gas resources.