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The highlands are sparsely populated with most of the administrative headquarters and towns located in the lowlands area. Sesotho, or Southern Sotho, is spoken in Lesotho as well as in parts of South Africa.Sesotho was one of the first African languages to develop a written form and it has an extensive literature. The spectacular scenery of Lesotho's rugged mountains, massive gullies (called dongas ), and sparkling waterfalls create a tourist's dream destination.English is the second official language, dating back to 1868 when Lesotho was placed under the British for protection against South African aggression. Picturesque villages, herdboys with their flocks, men on horseback, and women wearing the national dress of Moshoeshoe depicted in the angora wool wall hangings and rugs of Basotho fame.
A long rainy season during the summer months (December to February) combined with freezing conditions in the winter (June to August) creates adverse travel conditions which isolate much of the highland areas.A wealth of rivers and waterfalls makes Lesotho valuable to the surrounding arid industrial areas of South Africa.The soils are poor, a result of over-grazing, over-cropping, and serious erosion, with only one-eighth of the land being arable. The population of Lesotho, in 1998, was estimated to be 2,089,289 with a growth rate of 1.9 percent.The careful selection of color and pattern allows for individual expression.Everywhere in Lesotho one will see the small, sturdy Sotho pony, adept at negotiating the steep mountains and gullies and indispensable for carrying the grain to the mill for grinding.
A shield that is part of the country's coat of arms appears in the upper left diagonal space.