Kingdom of Lesotho: Facts and Prospects - Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2019

Originally published
View original



The Kingdom of Lesotho is geographically surrounded by South Africa. It is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by a King as Head of State, and governed by a 33-member Senate and a 120-member National Assembly. In line with recommendations made by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Government of Lesotho is currently undertaking key Constitutional and Security Reforms. The vast majority of the population (95%) identify as Christians while 3.5% report not to ascribe to any religion.


Lesotho’s population has doubled over the last 50 years to 2.3 million and is projected to rise to 2.8 million by 2030. The country’s annual rate of population change is estimated at 1.3% during the 2010-2019 period while net migration rate is -4.7 per 1,000 population. Less than a third of the population resides in urban areas (Figure 1). Total fertility rate per woman declined by half to 2.9 children during the last 50 years, with corresponding changes in the population age structure. Fifty years ago, about 40% of the Lesotho population was below 15 years of age while today that proportion is about a third.

The population, however, remains young with a mean age of 24 years. The proportion of the working age population increased by seven percentage points in the last 25 years. Compared to the other age groups, the proportion of the older population has remained below 5% during the last 50 years and is projected to reach 5.6% by 2030 (Figure 2). Life expectancy at birth increased from 49 years in 1960 to 58 years in 1994 before declining to the current 55 years, largely due to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.