Demographics of Lesotho

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Lesotho, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

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.[1] Of the population, 23.74 percent lived in urban and 76.26 percent in rural areas.[1] 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.[1]

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.[2] The annual population growth rate is estimated at 0.13%[2]

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 (singular Mosotho), a Bantu-speaking people: an estimate of 99.7 percent of the people identify as Basotho.[2] 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.[3]

Sesotho (Southern Sotho) and English languages are both official.[2] Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and French are also spoken.


The population of Lesotho is estimated to be around 90 percent Christian.[4] Roman Catholics, the largest religious group, make up around 45 percent of the population.[4] Evangelicals comprise 26 percent of the population, and Anglican and other Christian groups an additional 19 percent.[4] Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha'i, and members of traditional indigenous religions comprise the remaining 10 percent of the population.[4]

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