Lesotho's principle economic sectors are agriculture (18
percent), mining and manufacturing (38 percent), and
/tourism/services (44 percent) in 1999, according to the CIA
Although politically autonomous, Lesotho's economy is almost
totally dependent on trade and cooperative development with the Republic
of South Africa. Several reasons explain this dependence. First, South
Africa completely surrounds
mountainous Lesotho in the same manner that water surrounds an island.
Thus, all commerce and travelers to and from Lesotho must pass through
their wealthier neighbor which is also their dominant trading partner.
Second, 75 percent of Lesotho families rely on wages earned in South
African mines for at least some of their income. Any fluctuation in mine
productivity affects Lesotho. Finally, political changes in South Africa
greatly alter foreign aid and investment in Lesotho. In the past, the
international donor community (wealthy industrialized nations) viewed
this small mountain kingdom as an island of racial freedom surrounded by
a South Africa locked in apartheid. When Nelson Mandela spearheaded
majority rule, South Africa became a more important recipient of
international development dollars.