The Demographics of Lesotho
describe the condition and overview of Lesotho's peoples. Demographic topics include basic education, health, and population statistics as well as identified racial and religious affiliations.
According to the 2006 census, Lesotho has a total population of 1,872,721. Of the population, 23.74 percent lived in urban and 76.26 percent in rural areas. The country's capital, Maseru, accounts for around half of the total urban population. The sex distribution is 911,848 male and 960,873 female, or around 95 males for each 100 females.
The average population density in the country is around 61,7 people per square kilometer. The density is lower in the highlands than in the western lowlands. Although the majority of the population—59.8 percent—is between 15 and 64 years of age, Lesotho has a substantial youth population numbering around 35.3 percent. The annual population growth rate is estimated at 0.13%
Ethnic groups and languages
Due to Lesotho's long history as a unified nation, that continued even through British
colonial rule, the ethnic makeup of the country is very homogenous. Lesotho's ethno-linguistic structure consists almost entirely of the Basotho
), a Bantu-speaking people: an estimate of 99.7 percent of the people identify as Basotho. The Kwena (Bakoena) are the largest subgroup of the Sotho; other Basotho subgroups include the Natal (North) Nguni, Batloung (the Tlou), Baphuthi (the Phuti), Bafokeng, Bataung (the Tau), Bats'oeneng (the tso'ene) and the Cape (South) Nguni (Thembu). Other ethnic groups include Europeans, numbering in the thousands, and several hundred Asians.
Sesotho (Southern Sotho) and English languages are both official. Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and French are also spoken.
The population of Lesotho is estimated to be around 90 percent Christian
. Roman Catholics
, the largest religious group, make up around 45 percent of the population. Evangelicals
comprise 26 percent of the population, and Anglican
and other Christian groups an additional 19 percent. Muslims
, and members of traditional indigenous religions comprise the remaining 10 percent of the population.
Education and literacy
According to recent estimates, 85 percent of the population 15 and over was literate. Among women the literacy rate was around 95 percent, and among men around 75 percent. As such, Lesotho boasts one of the higher literacy rates in Africa. Although education is not compulsory, the Government of Lesotho is incrementally implementing a programme for free primary education. It was expected that the program would be fully in place by 2006. The National University of Lesotho
located in Roma
is the only university in the country. In addition, the country has almost 20 other public and 15 private institutes giving tertiary education.