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The World Factbook 2002

         
  Laos  
Flag of Laos
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  Introduction
  Geography
  People
  Government
  Economy
  Communications
  Transportation
  Military
  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.


This page was last updated on 1 January 2002


Map of Laos

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Laos
Background:
Definition Field Listing
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, an easing of foreign investment laws, and the admission into ASEAN in 1997.
   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
total: 236,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
land: 230,800 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: 4%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 96% (1998 est.)
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; a majority of the population does not have access to potable water
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, 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 forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
   People    Laos
Population:
Definition Field Listing
5,777,180 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 42.5% (male 1,233,659; female 1,219,872)
15-64 years: 54.2% (male 1,543,246; female 1,591,419)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 86,375; female 102,609) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.47% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
37.39 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
12.71 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
90.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 53.88 years
female: 55.87 years (2002 est.)
male: 51.95 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
5.03 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.05% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
1,400 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
130 (1999 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 ("Meo") and the Yao (Mien) 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: 57%
male: 70%
female: 44% (1999 est.)
   Government    Laos
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
conventional short form: Laos
local short form: none
local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
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, Louangphabang, 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 NA 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 NA 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 NA 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, ESCAP, 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 VANG Rattanavong
FAX: [1] (202) 332-4923
telephone: [1] (202) 332-6416
chancery: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Douglas A. HARTWICK
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
   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
purchasing power parity - $9.2 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $1,630 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 53%
industry: 22%
services: 25% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
40% (2001 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
10% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
2.4 million (1999)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 80% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
5.7% (1997 est.)
Budget:
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $211 million
expenditures: $462 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY98/99 est.)
Industries:
Definition Field Listing
tin and gypsum mining, timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
7.5% (1999 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
1.02 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 1.96%
hydro: 98.04%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
690.6 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
400 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
142 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton; tea, peanuts, rice; water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Exports:
Definition Field Listing
$325 million (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
wood products, garments, electricity, coffee, tin
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Thailand 20%, France 7.5%, Germany 5.9%, UK 4.1%, Belgium 4% (2000)
Imports:
Definition Field Listing
$540 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Thailand 52%, Singapore 3.9%, Japan 1.6%, Hong Kong 1.5%, China 0.8% (2000)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$2.53 billion (1999)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$345 million (1999 est.)
Currency:
Definition Field Listing
kip (LAK)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
LAK
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
kips per US dollar - 9,467.00 (December 2001), 8,954.58 (2001), 7,887.64 (2000), 7,102.03 (1999), 3,298.33 (1998), 1,259.98 (1997)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
1 October - 30 September
   Communications    Laos
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
25,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
4,915 (1997)
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: satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 12, FM 1, shortwave 4 (1998)
Radios:
Definition Field Listing
730,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
4 (1999)
Televisions:
Definition Field Listing
52,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
.la
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
1 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
6,000 (2001)
   Transportation    Laos
Railways:
Definition Field Listing
0 km (2001)
Highways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 14,000 km
paved: 3,360 km
unpaved: 10,640 km (1991)
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
petroleum products 136 km
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
none
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,370 GRT/3,110 DWT
ships by type: cargo 1 (2002 est.)
Airports:
Definition Field Listing
51 (2001)
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 (2001)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 42
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 26 (2001)
   Military    Laos
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Lao People's Army (LPA; including Riverine Force), Air Force, National Police Department
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 1,365,027 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 734,945 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 64,437 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$55 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
4.2% (FY96/97)
   Transnational Issues    Laos
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
demarcation of boundaries with Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam is nearing completion, 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 2001 - 22,000 hectares, a 5% decrease over 2000; estimated potential production in 2001 - 200 metric tons, about the same as in 2000); potential heroin producer; transshipment point for heroin and methamphetamine produced in Burma; illicit producer of cannabis; growing methamphetamine abuse problem

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002


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