Facts, stats and information on Laos

General Information on Laos & Quick Overview

The Communist Pathet Lao seized control of the Laotian government in 1975, bringing to an end the 600 year old monarchy.

Laos is now gradually returning to private enterprise, and opening the doors to foreign investment. Laos was re-admitted into ASEAN in 1997.

Former French colony where French was once widely spoken.

Geographical Statistics & Information on Laos

Geographical Position: Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam Map Ref Latitude & Longitude 18 degrees 00 North, 10 degrees 0 00 East Total Land & Sea Area: Southeast Asia Total: 237,000 square kilometres Sea Area 5,000 square kilometres land area: 230,000 square kilometres Land boundaries: Total: 5,000 kilometres border countries: Burma 230 kilometres, Cambodia 540 kilometres, China 420 kilometres, Thailand 1,750km, Vietnam2,000 kilometres Coastal Length: 0 kilometres (landlocked) Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climatological information on Laos

Tropical monsoon cliamte; rainy season (from month of May to month of November); and the dry season extending from the month of December to the month of April.

Terrain Features

mostly rugged, forested mountains; with some areas of plains and plateaux. Highest & Lowest Elevations: Lowest elevation: Mekong River 65 metres Highest elevation: Phou Bia 2,820 metres

Country’s natural resources: timber and lumber, hydroelectric power, gypsum, tin, gold deposits, gemstones

Land use

ploughable land area: 3.5 percent permanent crops: 0.2 percent other: 96 percent (1998 estimate) Irrigated land area: 1,600 square kilometres

Hazardous Natural phenomena: subject to peridic flooding, occasional droughts

Geographical information on Laos

Laos is landlocked with no coastal region; the majority of Laos is rugged mountains which are heavily forested. The Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with neighbouring Thailand

Information on People in Laos

Population: 5,920,000 (July 2003 estimate)

Age structure: under 15 years: 42 percent 15 to 64 years: 55 percent Over 65: 3 percent Median age of population: Total: 18.5 years male: 18 years female: 19 years (2002)

Population growth rate: 2.5 percent (2003 estimate) Birth rate: 37 births per thousand population (2003 estimate) mortality rate: 12 deaths per thousand population (2003 estimate) Net rate of migration: 0 migrant(s) per thousand population (2003 estimate) Infant mortality rate: Total: 89 deaths per thousand live births female: 78 deaths per thousand live births (2003 estimate) male: 99 deaths per thousand live births

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 54 years male: 52. years female: 56 years (2003 estimate) Total fertility rate: 5 children born/woman (2003 estimate)


Lao or Laotian

Ethnic groups

Lao Loum 70 percent, Lao Theung 20 percent, Lao Soung includes Hmong "Meo" and the Yao “Mien” 10 percent, Vietnamese/Chinese 1 percent

Religious information on Laos

Buddhist 55 percent, animist and other 45 percent (including Christian followings)

Languages & Linguistic Groupings

Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages Literacy: definition: People over the age of 15 years that are literate (can read & write): total population: 53 percent male: 67 percent female: 38 percent (2003 estimate)

Government information on Laos

Country name: Lao People's Democratic Republic

Government type: Communist state Capital city: Vientiane Independence: 19 July 1949 from Republic of France National holiday: Republic Day, 2 December 1975 Constitution: August 14th, 1991 Legal system: based on traditional laws and customs, French Law, socialist laws

Electoral & Voting System

Universal vote from the age of 18. Executive branch: Head of State: President Chief of Government:Prime Minister
Cabinet: President appoints the Council of Ministers.

Legislative branch: National Assembly

Judicial branch: People's Supreme Court

Economy of Laos

Overview information on Laos Economy: Laos is one of the last officially Communist nations and it began decentralizing control and encouraging the regeneration of private enterprise in 1986.

Economic growth was strong and averaged 7 percent through the period 1988-2001 .

Still has an underdeveloped infrastructure; no railroading, a fairly basic and underdeveloped road system, with limited external and internal telecommunications.

Electricity is not widely available outside cities.

Subsistence agriculture still accounts for half of Gross Domestic Product and is the source of 80 percent of total labour force employment.

The IMF and other international sources continue to pump in foreign aid.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

$USD10 billion (2002 estimate) Gross Domestic Product - actual growth rate: 6 percent (2002 estimate) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - per head of population: $USD1,900 (2002 estimate) Gross Domestic Product - composition by sector: agriculture: 55 percent industry: 20 percent services: 25 percent (2001 estimate) Population below poverty line: 50 percent (2002 estimate) Rate of inflation: 11 percent (2002 estimate)

Labour force: 2.5 million (1999) Labour force - by occupation: agriculture 85 percent (1997 estimate) Rate of unemployment: 6 percent (1997 estimate)

Budget information on Laos

Incomes: $USD210 million spending : $USD450 million, (Fiscal Year98/99 est. estimate)

Industries: tin and gypsum mining, timber and wood, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, tourism Industrial production growth rate: 7 percent (1999 estimate)

Agriculture - products: root crops and tubers, vegetables, corn, maize, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton; tea, peanuts, rice; livestock


$USD350 million (2002 estimate) Exports - commodities: wood products, garments, electricity, coffee, tin Exports - partners: Vietnam25 percent, Thailand 20 percent, France 7 percent, Germany 5 percent (2002)


$USD550 million Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods Imports -most important trading partners: Thailand 59 percent, Vietnam12 percent, China 8 percent (2002)

Foreign Indebtedness

$USD2.5 billion (1999) Economic aid - recipient: $USD350 million (1999 estimate) National Currency: kip (LAK) Currency Abbreviation: LAK

Communications in Laos

Telephones landlines: 30,000 (1997) Radio broadcast stations: Amplitude Modulation 13, Frequency Modulation 2, shortwave 5 (1998) Television broadcast stations: 5 (1999) Internet country code: .la

Transportation & travel information on Laos:

Railroad networks: 0 kilometres Roading System: Total: 21,000 kilometres Pipelines: refined products 550 kilometres (2003) Airports & airfields: 50 (2002)

Military system of Laos:

Military branches: Lao People's Army (LPA; including Riverine Force), Air Force, National Police Department Military spending : $USD50 million (Fiscal Year98) Military spending : percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP): 4 percent (Fiscal Year96)

International Issues Laos Disputes - international: Border disputes with Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Illicit drugs: World's 3rd largest illicit opium producer of opium.

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Information on Laos
Source: All info sourced and adapted from CIA Factbook
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