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  Geography
  People
  Government
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  Military
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Map of Laos

DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Laos
Background:
Definition Field Listing
Laos was under the control 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. Initial closer ties to Vietnam and socialization were replaced with a gradual return to private enterprise, a liberalization of foreign investment laws, and the admission into ASEAN in 1997.

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   Geography    Laos
Location:
Definition Field Listing
Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
18 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Southeast Asia
Area:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than Utah
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 5,083 km
border countries: Burma 235 km, Cambodia 541 km, China 423 km, Thailand 1,754 km, Vietnam 2,130 km
Coastline:
Definition Field Listing
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
none (landlocked)
Climate:
Definition Field Listing
tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
Terrain:
Definition Field Listing
mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Mekong River 70 m
highest point: Phou Bia 2,817 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 3.8%
permanent crops: 0.35%
other: 95.85% (2001)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
1,640 sq km
note: rainy season irrigation - 2,169 sq km; dry season irrigation - 750 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
floods, droughts
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand

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   People    Laos
Population:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6,068,117 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 41.9% (male 1,277,152; female 1,265,761)
15-64 years: 54.9% (male 1,642,895; female 1,688,175)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 87,995; female 106,139) (2004 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 18.6 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 19 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.44% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
36.47 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12.1 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 87.06 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 97.05 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 76.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 54.69 years
male: 52.71 years
female: 56.75 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.86 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1,700 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
Definition Field Listing
noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
adjective: Lao or Laotian
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Lao Loum (lowland) 68%, Lao Theung (upland) 22%, Lao Soung (highland) including the Hmong and the Yao 9%, ethnic Vietnamese/Chinese 1%
Religions:
Definition Field Listing
Buddhist 60%, animist and other 40% (including various Christian denominations 1.5%)
Languages:
Definition Field Listing
Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages
Literacy:
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 66.4%
male: 77.4%
female: 55.5% (2002)

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   Government    Laos
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
conventional short form: Laos
local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
local short form: none
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Communist state
Capital:
Definition Field Listing
Vientiane
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
16 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural), 1 municipality* (kampheng nakhon, singular and plural), and 1 special zone** (khetphiset, singular and plural); Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphrabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun**, Xekong, Xiangkhoang
Independence:
Definition Field Listing
19 July 1949 (from France)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Republic Day, 2 December (1975)
Constitution:
Definition Field Listing
promulgated 14 August 1991
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on traditional customs, French legal norms and procedures, and socialist practice
Suffrage:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Gen. KHAMTAI Siphandon (since 26 February 1998) and Vice President Lt. Gen. CHOUMMALI Saignason (since 27 March 2001)
head of government: Prime Minister BOUNGNANG Volachit (since 27 March 2001); First Deputy Prime Minister Maj. Gen. ASANG Laoli (since May 2002), Deputy Prime Minister THONGLOUN Sisolit (since 27 March 2001), and Deputy Prime Minister SOMSAVAT Lengsavat (since 26 February 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held 24 February 2002 (next to be held in 2007); prime minister appointed by the president with the approval of the National Assembly for a five-year term
election results: KHAMTAI Siphandon elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral National Assembly (109 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; note - total number of seats increased from 99 to 109 for the 2002 election)
elections: last held 24 February 2002 (next to be held in 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPRP or LPRP-approved (independent, non-party members) 109
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
People's Supreme Court (the president of the People's Supreme Court is elected by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the National Assembly Standing Committee; the vice president of the People's Supreme Court and the judges are appointed by the National Assembly Standing Committee)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [KHAMTAI Siphandon, party president]; other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
noncommunist political groups proscribed; most opposition leaders fled the country in 1975
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
ACCT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador PHANTHONG Phommahaxay
chancery: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-6416
FAX: [1] (202) 332-4923
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Patricia M. HASLACH
embassy: 19 Rue Bartholonie, B. P. 114, Vientiane
mailing address: American Embassy, Box V, APO AP 96546
telephone: [856] (21) 212581, 212582, 212585
FAX: [856] (21) 212584
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band

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   Economy    Laos
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
The government of Laos - one of the few remaining official Communist states - began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. The results, starting from an extremely low base, were striking - growth averaged 7% in 1988-2001 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis beginning in 1997. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a country with a primitive infrastructure; it has no railroads, a rudimentary road system, and limited external and internal telecommunications. Electricity is available in only a few urban areas. Subsistence agriculture accounts for half of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. The economy will continue to benefit from aid from the IMF and other international sources and from new foreign investment in food processing and mining.
GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $10.32 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.5% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 49.4%
industry: 24.5%
services: 26.1% (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
40% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 30.6% (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
37 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
15.3% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.6 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 80% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.7% (1997 est.)
Budget:
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $298.5 million
expenditures: $429.9 million, including capital expenditures of NA (2003 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice, water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Industries:
Definition Field Listing
tin and gypsum mining, timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.7% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.317 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
824.7 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
400 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2,750 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2001)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$-58 million (2003)
Exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$332 million (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
garments, wood products, coffee, electricity, tin
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Thailand 20.7%, Vietnam 15.8%, France 7.3%, Germany 5.3%, Belgium 4% (2003 est.)
Imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$492 million f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Thailand 59.7%, China 12.8%, Vietnam 10.2% (2003 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$201 million (2003)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$2.49 billion (2001)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$243 million (2001 est.)
Currency:
Definition Field Listing
kip (LAK)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
LAK
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
kips per US dollar - 10,443 (2003), 10,056.3 (2002), 8,954.58 (2001), 7,887.64 (2000), 7,102.02 (1999)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
1 October - 30 September

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   Communications    Laos
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
61,900 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
55,200 (2002)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: service to general public is poor but improving with over 20,000 telephones currently in service and an additional 48,000 expected by 2001; the government relies on a radiotelephone network to communicate with remote areas
domestic: radiotelephone communications
international: country code - 856; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 12, FM 1, shortwave 4 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
4 (1999)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
.la
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
937 (2003)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
15,000 (2002)

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   Transportation    Laos
Highways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 21,716 km
paved: 9,664 km
unpaved: 12,052 km (1999 est.)
Waterways:
Definition Field Listing
4,587 km approximately
note: primarily Mekong and tributaries; 2,897 additional km are intermittently navigable by craft drawing less than 0.5 m
Pipelines:
Definition Field Listing
refined products 540 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
none
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 2,370 GRT/3,110 DWT
by type: cargo 1 (2003 est.)
Airports:
Definition Field Listing
46 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 37
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 23 (2003 est.)

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   Military    Laos
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Lao People's Army (LPA; including Riverine Force), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 1,456,500 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 783,800 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 68,563 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$10.9 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.5% (2003)

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   Transnational Issues    Laos
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
demarcation of boundaries with Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam is largely complete, but with Thailand several areas including Mekong River islets remain in dispute; ongoing disputes with Thailand and Vietnam over squatters
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
world's third-largest illicit opium producer (estimated cultivation in 2002 - 23,200 hectares, a 5% increase over 2001; estimated potential production in 2002 - 180 metric tons, a 10% decrease from 2001); potential heroin producer; transshipment point for heroin and methamphetamine produced in Burma; illicit producer of cannabis; growing methamphetamine abuse problem

Large portions of this information is from the US government open source publication "The World Factbook", other content copyright © Stratus-Pikpuk, Inc. You may use this information without permission for educational or other non-profit purposes if you refer to us as the source, contact us if you want to use this commercially.


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