Lesotho has a population density of 69 residents per km 2, but the distribution is uneven. The mountainous eastern parts are sparsely populated; About 70 percent of the residents live in the limited fertile lowland areas in the west. Locally, the population density in western Lesotho can amount to more than 200 residents per km 2. In 2019, 28 percent of the population lived in cities. The capital Maseru (330,800 residents, 2016) is the country’s largest city.
According to Countryaah, Lesotho’s population is homogeneous. Almost all Lesothians are Southern Sotho (98 percent), a subgroup of Sotho, and call themselves Basotho. The rest consists of Zulu, Xhosa and whites of South African descent. There are also some minor minorities of nguni origin, integrated with basotho. Basotho is also found in the Free State Province of South Africa, where their numbers are significantly greater than in Lesotho.
In the past, patrilinear and patrilocal large families with large herds of livestock and common agriculture formed the community base in Lesotho. Migrant work in South Africa and monetary economics has meant that the individual household has now become the basic social and economic unit, although the extended family still has economic, social and ritual significance. Similarly, livestock is still important even in other contexts than economic ones.
A large part of Lesotho’s men of productive age are migrant workers in South African mines. Home and agriculture are mainly run by women. The dependence on the miners’ wages is so great that one can regard Lesotho as a mining industrial country without its own mines and the majority of its population as a rural proletariat. All land in Lesotho belongs to the nation and cannot be owned privately. The traditional chief hierarchy, in whose top the king is found, still has administrative and judicial functions. Each village has a chieftain whose task is to allocate farming rights to the village’s agricultural land.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Lesotho demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
The Bantu language Sotho (Sesotho, Southern Sotho) is spoken by about 85% of the population; about 15% speak Zulu (also a bantu language). Sotho is the official language along with English. Compare Population above.
At the turn of the 1900, the proportion of Christians in Lesotho was about one tenth of the population. Today, over 90% of Lesothians are Christians. The Catholic Church, established in the country in 1862, is the largest Christian community with nearly half the population as members. The first Christian community in Lesotho is Lesotho Evangelical Church, which began operating in the country in 1833, and today has just over 10% of the population as members. Between 1868 and 1966, the country was a British protectorate, which may be one reason why the Anglican Church entered the country in 1875 and today about 5% of Lesothians are members of this community. Other Christian communities are comprised of 25% of the population. It is estimated that just over 5% practice indigenous traditional African religion. The country also has small groups of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Baha’is. The Christians are found throughout the country, while the Muslims mainly live in the Butha-Butte district in the north of the country. Many of the Christians combine Christianity with traditional indigenous religion.
The Constitution and other laws guarantee freedom of religion. New religious minority groups are easily integrated into society, as the country’s constitution is secular, something that the government is guarding. The Christian churches have a great responsibility for school education. The Catholic Church operates an estimated 40% of all the country’s primary schools. Other communities that have schools are the Evangelical Church, the Anglican Church and the Methodist Church. Lesotho’s Christian Council played an important role as mediator between various political parties in conflicts over the distribution of seats in the National Assembly after the 2007 elections.
The following days are national holidays: Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day and Christmas Day.