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Formerly known as basutoland, the Kingdom of Lesotho attained independence from Britain in 1996. After the return of King Moshoeshoe from exile and his subsequent reinstatement in 1995, constitutional government replaced two decades of military rule. South Africa and Botswana, however, were compelled to intervene when civil protests were followed by a military mutiny. Lesotho has been relatively peaceful since 2002.

Lesotho's natural resources include water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, and building stone. Some 86 percent of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture. Although 35 percent of the adult male population works in South Africa, Lesotho has a 45 percent unemployment rate.

Some economic gains have been made in the past decades. A hydropower facility completed in 1998 allows Lesotho to sell water ...

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