Useful country information
Total area: 11,718 sq mi (30,350 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 1,942,008 (growth rate: 0.34%); birth rate: 25.92/1000; infant mortality rate: 50.48/1000; life expectancy: 52.65
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Maseru 239,000
Monetary unit: Maluti
Languages: English, Sesotho (both official); Zulu, Xhosa
Ethnicity/race: Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%
Religions: Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
National Holiday: Independence Day, October 4
Literacy rate: 89.6% (2010 est.)
The country formerly known as Basutoland was renamed to the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. In 1993 after 23 years of military rule, a new constitution was implemented leaving the King without any executive authority and proscribing him from engaging in political affairs.
In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody South African military intervention. Constitutional reforms have since restored political stability; peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002. However Lesotho is one of three remaining monarchies in Africa.
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