Lesotho Economy Facts

Economical overview

Lesotho is small and isolated and has limited assets, which makes it difficult to get a robust growth going. The dependence on developments in the surrounding South Africa is great. Agriculture is important for the livelihood of the population, while textile production is the most important in-house industry.

Money that Lesothian guest workers in South Africa send home makes an important contribution to the Treasury. By the mid-1990s, one in four Lesothians were estimated to support their family as a miners in the neighboring country. Life became difficult for the Lesothians when the South African mines began to reduce their staff and many lost their jobs (see Labor Market). Their return home has increased unemployment in Lesotho and worsened the spread of HIV / AIDS (see Social conditions). Access has also diminished in other jobs for the low-skilled in South Africa, such as services in the home and in agriculture.

  • Countryaah.com: Major imports by Lesotho, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

Money shipments accounted for around 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at the turn of the millennium and today account for just under 25 percent. It is still the highest figure in Africa.

Agriculture employs many but it produces low returns and produces only part of the food need.

The relatively large textile and clothing industry has grown during the 2000s and accounts for most of the export revenue. The raw material is imported into the textiles that are woven and clothing sewn in the country (see Industry).

  • Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including LSO which represents the country of Lesotho. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Lesotho.

Exports of water to South Africa have also become an important source of income, and Lesotho is expected to be able to sell electricity soon. The mining of diamonds has increased in importance in recent years and the mining sector now accounts for around 8 percent of GDP (see also Natural Resources and Energy).

Poverty is widespread and a large proportion of the population is dependent on food aid to cope. The largest donors are the United States and the EU. The World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) account for almost all loans. Foreign debt amounted to 38 percent of GDP in 2013.

Lesotho’s currency lottery is linked to the South African rand. Thus, inflation follows the same path it does in neighboring countries.


GDP per person

US $ 1,324 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 2,792 million (2018)

GDP growth

1.5 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

6.1 percent (2017)

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

13.7 percent (2017)

The service sector’s share of GDP

52.5 percent (2017)


5.9 percent (2019)

Government debt’s share of GDP

44.5 percent (2018)

External debt

US $ 936 million (2017)



Merchandise exports

US $ 1,175 million (2018)


US $ 1 930 million (2018)

Current account

– US $ 114 million (2018)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

126 percent (2018)

Main export goods

water, hydropower, textiles, diamonds

Largest trading partner

South Africa, USA

Lesotho Economy Facts

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