First a few words about the recent inactivity of The Maguire Wire. For starters, A-100 is overwhelming and just plain tiring. In addition, Josephine decided that she was going to start getting up long before the sun came up, often between 4:45 and 5:30 am. Most nights, when there wasn't a happy hour or some other "voluntary" event, I came home and crumpled onto the couch. Then I'd either fall asleep on the couch or just get up and go to bed. For a guy who was always the last one to go to bed, it was quite pathetic.
The Maguire household also seemed to have been struck by some biblical plagues over the last six weeks. You name it, it rampaged through everyone: colds, GI issues, sore throats. All in all, it was an awful month.
The good news is that everyone is healthy now, and The Maguire Wire is back in action. I promise to write often the next 10 weeks as we get ready for our big adventure.
So, at long last, a little bit about the very cool place we are heading off to this summer.
Area: 30,355 sq. km. (11,718 sq. mi.), about the size of Maryland.
Cities: Capital--Maseru (173,700). Other cities--Leribe (35,000), Mafeteng (32,900), Teyateyaneng (22,800), Mohale's Hoek (18,400).
Terrain: High veld, plateau, and mountains.
Climate: Temperate; summers hot, winters cool to cold; humidity generally low and evenings cool year round. Rainy season in summer, winters dry. Southern hemisphere seasons are reversed.
Nationality: Noun--Mosotho (sing.); Basotho (pl.). Adjective--Basotho.
Population (2009 est.): 1.88 million.
Annual population growth rate (2009 est.): 0.116%. (Note: the population growth rate is depressed by an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate estimated to be at approximately 23.2%.)
Ethnic groups: Basotho 99.7%; Europeans, Asians, and other (including Xhosa) 0.3%.
Religions: 90% Christian, including Roman Catholic (majority), Lesotho Evangelical, Anglican, other denominations; other religions include Islam, Hindu, indigenous.
Languages: Official--Sesotho and English. Other--Xhosa, Zulu.
Education: Years compulsory--None. Literacy (2003 est.)--84.8%. Lesotho has free primary education (grades 1-7).
Health: Infant mortality rate (2009 est.)--77.4/1,000. Life expectancy (2009 est.)--40.38 years.
Work force (2001 est.): 704,000.
Type: Constitutional monarchy.
Constitution: April 2, 1993.
Independence: October 4, 1966.
Branches: Executive--monarch is head of state; prime minister is head of government and cabinet. Legislative--Bicameral parliament consists of elected Assembly and non-elected Senate. Judicial--High Court, Court of Appeals, Magistrate's Court, traditional and customary courts.
Administrative subdivisions: 10 districts.
Political parties: Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), All Basotho Congress (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP), Lesotho Peoples Congress (LPC), National Independent Party (NIP), Basutoland African Congress (BAC), Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), Lesotho Workers Party (LWP), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP), Christian Democratic Party (CDP), Kopanang Basotho Party (KBP), National Progressive Party (NPP), New Lesotho's Freedom Party (NLFP), Sefate Democratic Union (SDU), Social Democratic Party (SDP), United Party (UP).
Suffrage: 18 years of age.
Central government budget (FY 2003-2004 est.): Revenues--$560 million. Expenditures--$599 million.
GDP (2009): $1.3 billion.
Annual growth rate (2009 estimate): 1.1%.
Per capita GDP (2008 est.): $1,600.
Average inflation rate (2008): 10.8%.
Natural resources: Water, agricultural and grazing land, some diamonds and other minerals. Lesotho is an exporter of excess labor.
Agriculture (2008 est.): 4.7% of GDP. Products--corn, wheat, sorghum, barley, peas, beans, asparagus, wool, mohair, livestock. Arable land--11%.
Industry (2008 est.): 46.7% of GDP. Types--apparel, food, beverages, handicrafts, construction, tourism.
Trade (2008): Exports--$1.06 billion; clothing, furniture, footwear and wool. Partners--South Africa, United States, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, EU. Imports--$1.339 billion; corn, clothing, building materials, vehicles, machinery, medicines, petroleum products. Partners--South Africa, Asia, EU.
Fiscal year: April 1 - March 31.
Economic aid received (2008): $306 million. Primary donors--U.S., World Bank, IMF, EU, UN, U.K., and Ireland.
More than 99% of Lesotho's population is ethnically Basotho; other ethnic groups include Europeans, Asians, and Xhosa. The country's population is 90% Christian, the majority of whom are Roman Catholic. Other religions are Islam, Hindu, and indigenous beliefs. Sesotho and English are official languages, and other languages spoken include Xhosa.
- Lesotho information taken from www.state.gov.