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Saturday, April 02, 2016

Five Actual Facts About Lesotho

Yesterday I posted an April Fools post listing five “facts” about Lesotho. Here are five real facts to counter those posts.

I realized recently I have been remiss in sharing some basic realities about Lesotho. So, here are some things that I have not mentioned but you probably assumed just because Lesotho is, in fact, in Africa. Enjoy!

5. We grow a lot of coffee. Lesotho’s Biggest Exports are Diamonds and Clothing:  Coffee is actually not grown in the country at all. Clothing makes up 40% of Lesotho's exported economy and Diamonds comprise another 22%. Thanks to the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA]in the United States, Lesotho is able to export clothing to the United States duty free. As a result, it is the largest exporter of clothing to America in all of sub-Saharan Africa. In a country with few jobs, the manufacturing jobs created thanks to AGOA

A dusting of snow in August.
4. It is really hot, all the time. Winter is Cold and Sometimes Snowy. Now that fall has officially begun, evenings and mornings are startlingly chilly. As we move into winter, dustings of snow will happen up to once a month and frost in the week following each snow. The highlands see more regular and more significant snowfall. Last year Mokhotlong actually became unreachable for a few days thanks to the mountain passes being completely snowed in. 

3. As a colony of Britain, Lesotho was heavily exploited. As a colony of Britain, Lesotho was not developed or exploited. Britain was not heavily involved as a colonial power in Lesotho. As water and diamonds are the only notable natural resources (aside from beauty, which is not easily exported) and the diamond mines are fairly new, there were not natural resources to export at the time. Today, water is exported to South Africa through the Highlands Water Project and as I noted above, diamonds are the second largest export. 

2. Following the end of colonization, we have seen bloody upheaval as the country tries to find its own way. Lesotho is a Peaceful Nation. Lesotho has had no civil wars or  significant bloodshed in the nearly fifty years following its independence. While there has been some political upheaval from time to time, including the attempted coup in August 2014 and consequent elections, the issues have remained in the political sphere. The Basotho pride themselves on being peaceful. 

1. Girls are discouraged from education. Girls are more likely than boys to finish higher education.  In Lesotho, women are far more likely to complete higher education. Boys often leave school in order to find paying jobs in their teens, leaving more females in attendance from late primary school through university. Because of this, I was pleasantly surprised when Lesotho was included in the second year of the Let Girls Learn. The primary reason I have heard for its inclusion is because women in Lesotho ages 15-24 are at an highest risk of contracting HIV and increasing education can help women reduce their risk. 

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