Laos Population: 7,234,171

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 History
Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century, when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the communist Pathet Lao took control of the government, ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997 and the WTO in 2013.

 Geography
    Landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
Location: Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates: 18 00 N, 105 00 E
Area: total: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km

Size comparison: about twice the size of Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Utah
Land Boundaries: total: 5,274 km border countries (5): Burma 238 km, Cambodia 555 km, China 475 km, Thailand 1845 km, Vietnam 2161 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
Terrain: mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Natural resources: timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Land use: agricultural land: 10.6% (2011 est.) arable land: 6.2% (2011 est.)
permanent crops: 0.7% (2011 est.) permanent pasture: 3.7% (2011 est.) forest: 67.9% (2011 est.)
other: 21.5% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land: 3,100 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards: floods, droughts
Current Environment Issues: unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; water pollution, most of the population does not have access to potable water
International Environment Agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 People
Nationality: noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
adjective: Lao or Laotian
Ethnic groups: Lao 53.2%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 9.2%, Phouthay 3.4%, Tai 3.1%, Makong 2.5%, Katong 2.2%, Lue 2%, Akha 1.8%, other 11.6% (2015 est.) note: the Laos Government officially recognizes 49 ethnic groups, but the total number of ethnic groups is estimated to be well over 200
Languages: Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages
Religions: Buddhist 64.7%, Christian 1.7%, none 31.4%, other/not stated 2.1% (2015 est.)
Population: 7,234,171 (July 2018 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.19% (male 1,177,639 /female 1,151,134)
15-24 years: 21% (male 754,198 /female 764,673)
25-54 years: 37.29% (male 1,332,231 /female 1,365,715)
55-64 years: 5.57% (male 196,509 /female 206,613)
65 years and over: 3.95% (male 129,336 /female 156,123) (2018 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 60.2 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 54 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 6.2 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 16.1 (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 23.4 years
male: 23 years
female: 23.7 years (2018 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.48% (2018 est.)
Birth rate: 23.2 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate: 7.3 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate: -1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 35% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 3.28% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major urban areas - population: 665,000 VIENTIANE (capital) (2018)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
Maternal mortality rate: 197 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 48.4 deaths/1,000 live births male: 53.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 43 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 65 years male: 62.9 years
female: 67.1 years (2018 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.65 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 54.1% (2017)
Physicians density: 0.5 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed density: 1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
Drinking water source: improved:
urban: 85.6% of population
rural: 69.4% of population
total: 75.7% of population

unimproved:
urban: 14.4% of population
rural: 30.6% of population
total: 24.3% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access: improved:
urban: 94.5% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 56% of population (2015 est.)
total: 70.9% of population (2015 est.)

unimproved:
urban: 5.5% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 44% of population (2015 est.)
total: 29.1% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 12,000 (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: <500 (2017 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 5.3% (2016)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 26.9% (2011)
Education expenditures: 2.9% of GDP (2014)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
total population: 84.7%
male: 90%
female: 79.4% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years male: 11 years female: 11 years (2017)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 18.2% male: 20.8% female: 15.5% (2017 est.)
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 Government
Country name: conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
conventional short form: Laos
local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
local short form: Mueang Lao (unofficial)
etymology: name means "Land of the Lao [people]"
Government type: communist state
Capital: name: Vientiane (Viangchan)
geographic coordinates: 17 58 N, 102 36 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: the meaning in Pali, a Buddhist liturgical language, is "city of sandalwood"
Administrative divisions: 17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural) and 1 prefecture* (kampheng nakhon); Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan (Vientiane)*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun, Xekong, Xiangkhouang
Independence: 19 July 1949 (from France by the Franco-Lao General Convention); 22 October 1953 (Franco-Lao Treaty recognizes full independence)
National holiday: Republic Day (National Day), 2 December (1975)
Constitution: history: previous 1947 (preindependence); latest promulgated 13-15 August 1991 amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership and promulgation by the president of the republic; amended 2003, 2015 (2018)
Legal system: civil law system similar in form to the French system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President BOUNNYANG Vorachit (since 20 April 2016); Vice President PHANKHAM Viphavan (since 20 April 2016)

head of government: Prime Minister THONGLOUN Sisoulit (since 20 April 2016); Deputy Prime Ministers BOUNTHONG Chitmani, SONXAI Siphandon, SOMDI Douangdi (since 20 April 2016)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 20 April 2016 (next to be held in 2021); prime minister nominated by the president, elected by the National Assembly for 5-year term

election results: BOUNNYANG Vorachit (LPRP) elected president; PHANKHAM Viphavan (LPRP) elected vice president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA; THONGLOUN Sisoulit (LPRP) elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - NA
Legislative branch: description: unicameral National Assembly or Sapha Heng Xat (149 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote from candidate lists provided by the Lao People's Revolutionary Party; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 20 March 2016 (next to be held in 2021)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPRP 144, independent 5; composition - men 108, women 41, percent of women 27.5%
Judicial branch: highest courts: People's Supreme Court (consists of the court president and organized into criminal, civil, administrative, commercial, family, and juvenile chambers, each with a vice president and several judges) judge selection and term of office: president of People's Supreme Court appointed by the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the president of the republic for a 5-year term; vice presidents of the People's Supreme Court appointed by the president of the republic upon the recommendation of the National Assembly; appointment of chamber judges NA; tenure of court vice presidents and chamber judges NA

subordinate courts: appellate courts; provincial, municipal, district, and military courts
Political parties and leaders: Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [BOUNNYANG Vorachit] note: other parties proscribed
International organization participation: ADB, ARF, ASEAN, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO (subscriber), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
National symbol(s): elephant;
national colors: red, white, blue
National anthem: name: "Pheng Xat Lao" (Hymn of the Lao People)
lyrics/music: SISANA Sisane/THONGDY Sounthonevichit

note: music adopted 1945, lyrics adopted 1975; the anthem's lyrics were changed following the 1975 Communist revolution that overthrew the monarchy
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador MAI Xaignavong (since 3 August 2015)
chancery: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-6416
FAX: [1] (202) 332-4923 consulate(s): New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Rena BITTER (since 2 November 2016)
embassy: Thadeua Road, Kilometer 9, Ban Somvang Tai, Hatsayfong District, Vientiane
mailing address: American Embassy Vientiane, Unit 46222, APO AP 96546-6222
telephone: [856] 21-48-7000
FAX: [856] 21-48-7190
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 Economy
The government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. Economic growth averaged more than 6% per year in the period 1988-2008, and Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia, averaging more than 7% per year for most of the last decade. Nevertheless, Laos remains a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. It has a basic, but improving, road system, and limited external and internal land-line telecommunications. Electricity is available to 83% of the population. Agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 20% of GDP and 73% of total employment. Recently, the country has faced a persistent current account deficit, falling foreign currency reserves, and growing public debt. Laos' economy is heavily dependent on capital-intensive natural resource exports. The economy has benefited from high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower dams along the Mekong River, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction, although some projects in these industries have drawn criticism for their environmental impacts. Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US in 2004 and applied for Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits in 2013 after being admitted to the World Trade Organization earlier in the year. Laos held the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2016. Laos is in the process of implementing a value-added tax system. The government appears committed to raising the country's profile among foreign investors and has developed special economic zones replete with generous tax incentives, but a limited labor pool, a small domestic market, and corruption remain impediments to investment. Laos also has ongoing problems with the business environment, including onerous registration requirements, a gap between legislation and implementation, and unclear or conflicting regulations.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $49.34 billion (2017 est.) $46.16 billion (2016 est.) $43.13 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $16.97 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 6.9% (2017 est.) 7% (2016 est.) 7.3% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $7,400 (2017 est.) $7,000 (2016 est.) $6,600 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving: 22.7% of GDP (2017 est.) 21.3% of GDP (2016 est.) 15.8% of GDP (2015 est.) GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 63.7% (2017 est.) government consumption: 14.1% (2017 est.) investment in fixed capital: 30.9% (2017 est.) investment in inventories: 3.1% (2017 est.) exports of goods and services: 34.6% (2017 est.) imports of goods and services: -43.2% (2017 est.) GDP - composition, by sector of origin: agriculture: 20.9% (2017 est.) industry: 33.2% (2017 est.) services: 45.9% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products: sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc, tapioca), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Industries: mining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 8% (2017 est.)
Labor force: 3.582 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 73.1%
industry: 6.1%
services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
Unemployment rate: 0.7% (2017 est.) 0.7% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line: 22% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 36.7 (2008) 34.6 (2002)
Budget: revenues: 3.099 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 4.038 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 18.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): -5.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt: 63.6% of GDP (2017 est.) 58.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.8% (2017 est.) 1.6% (2016 est.)
Current account balance: -$2.057 billion (2017 est.) -$2.07 billion (2016 est.)
Exports: $3.654 billion (2017 est.) $2.705 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities: wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
Exports - partners: Thailand 42.6%, China 28.7%, Vietnam 10.4%, India 4.4% (2017)
Imports: $4.976 billion (2017 est.) $4.739 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partners: Thailand 59.1%, China 21.5%, Vietnam 9.8% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $1.27 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $940.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external: $14.9 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $12.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $15.14 billion (31 December 2012 est.) $12.44 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $1.012 billion (2012 est.) $576.8 million (2011 est.)
Exchange rates: kips (LAK) per US dollar - 8,231.1 (2017 est.) 8,129.1 (2016 est.) 8,129.1 (2015 est.) 8,147.9 (2014 est.) 8,049 (2013 est.)
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 Energy
Electricity - production: 29.74 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 5.471 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports: 8.469 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - imports: 2.5 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 6.94 million kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 28% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 72% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 18,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 17,460 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 10.42 million Mt (2017 est.)
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 Communications
Cellular Phones in use: total subscriptions: 3,711,813
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 52 (2017 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: service to public is generally improving; the government relies on a radiotelephone network to communicate with remote areas; regulatory reform below industry standards; low fixed-broadband penetration due to dominance of mobile platforms; strong boost in mobile broadband penetration but still low compared to other Asian markets; development of mobile broadband Internet services given the expansion of 4G services (2018)

domestic: fixed-line 16 per 100 and 52 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions (2018)

international: country code - 856; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) and a second to be developed by China
Broadcast media: 6 TV stations operating out of Vientiane - 3 government-operated and the others commercial; 17 provincial stations operating with nearly all programming relayed via satellite from the government-operated stations in Vientiane; Chinese and Vietnamese programming relayed via satellite from Lao National TV; broadcasts available from stations in Thailand and Vietnam in border areas; multi-channel satellite and cable TV systems provide access to a wide range of foreign stations; state-controlled radio with state-operated Lao National Radio (LNR) broadcasting on 5 frequencies - 1 AM, 1 SW, and 3 FM; LNR's AM and FM programs are relayed via satellite constituting a large part of the programming schedules of the provincial radio stations; Thai radio broadcasts available in border areas and transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are also accessible
Internet country code: .la
Internet users: total: 1.258 million
percent of population: 18.2% (July 2016 est.)
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 Transportation
Airports: 41 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 8
(2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 33
(2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2013)
under 914 m: 22 (2013)
Pipelines: 540 km refined products (2013)
Roadways: total 39,586 km
(2009) paved: 5,415 km (2009)
unpaved: 34,171 km (2009)
Waterways: 4,600 km (primarily on the Mekong River and its tributaries; 2,900 additional km are intermittently navigable by craft drawing less than 0.5 m) (2012)
Merchant marine: total 1

by type: general cargo 1 (2017)
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 Military
Serving one of the world's least developed countries, the Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF) is small, poorly funded, and ineffectively resourced; its mission focus is border and internal security, primarily in countering ethnic Hmong insurgent groups; together with the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and the government, the Lao People's Army (LPA) is the third pillar of state machinery, and as such is expected to suppress political and civil unrest and similar national emergencies; there is no perceived external threat to the state and the LPA maintains strong ties with the neighboring Vietnamese military (2012)
Military branches: Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA, includes Riverine Force), Air Force (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory or voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18-months (2012)
Military expenditures: 0.2% of GDP (2013) 0.22% of GDP (2012) 0.23% of GDP (2011)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Thailand but disputes remain over islands in the Mekong River; Cambodia and Laos have a longstanding border demarcation dispute; concern among Mekong River Commission members that China's construction of eight dams on the Upper Mekong River and construction of more dams on its tributaries will affect water levels, sediment flows, and fisheries; Cambodia and Vietnam are concerned about Laos' extensive plans for upstream dam construction for the same reasons
Illicit drugs: estimated opium poppy cultivation in 2015 was estimated to be 5,700 hectares, compared with 6,200 hectares in 2014; estimated potential production of between 84 and 176 mt of raw opium; unsubstantiated reports of domestic methamphetamine production; growing domestic methamphetamine problem
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