Laos 1996Laos

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Laos - Introduction 1996
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Background: 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.

Laos - Geography 1996
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Location: Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand

Geographic coordinates

Map reference

Total: 236,800 km²
Land: 230,800 km²
Comparative: slightly larger than Utah

Land boundaries: Total 5,083 km, Myanmar 235 km, Cambodia 541 km, China 423 km, Thailand 1,754 km, Vietnam 2,130 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

Extremes lowest point: Mekong River 70 m
Extremes highest point: Phou Bia 2,817 m

Natural resources:

Land use

Land use
Arable land: 4%
Permanent crops: 0%
Permanent pastures: 3%
Forests and woodland: 58%
Other: 35%

Irrigated land: 1,554 km² (1992 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards


Laos - People 1996
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4,975,772 (July 1996 est.)
4,837,237 (July 1995 est.)

Growth rate:
2.81% (1996 est.)
2.84% (1995 est.)

Noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
Adjective: Lao or Laotian

Ethnic groups:
Lao Loum (lowland) 68%
Lao Theung (upland) 22%
Lao Soung (highland) including the Hmong ("Meo") and the Yao (Mien) 9%
Ethnic Vietnamese/Chinese 1%

Languages: Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages

Buddhist 60%
Animist and other 40%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years:
45% (male 1,142,825; female 1,114,628) (July 1996 est.)
45% (male 1,111,928; female 1,084,615) (July 1995 est.)

15-64 years:
51% (male 1,237,660; female 1,316,591) (July 1996 est.)
51% (male 1,199,149; female 1,280,142) (July 1995 est.)

65 years and over:
4% (male 75,748; female 88,320) (July 1996 est.)
4% (male 75,013; female 86,390) (July 1995 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate:
2.81% (1996 est.)
2.84% (1995 est.)

Birth rate:
41.94 births/1000 population (1996 est.)
42.64 births/1000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate:
13.83 deaths/1000 population (1996 est.)
14.28 deaths/1000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1000 population (1996 est.)
0 migrant(s)/1000 population (1995 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; a majority of the population does not have access to potable water
Current issues Natural hazards: floods, droughts, and blight
International agreements: party to_Environmental Modification, Nuclear Test Ban; signed, but not ratified_Climate Change, Desertification, Law of the Sea
International agreements note: Landlocked

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
All ages:
0.98 male(s)/female (1996 est.) Infant Mortality Rate:96.8 deaths/1000 live births (1996 est.)
99.2 deaths/1000 live births (1995 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 52.69 years (1996 est.); 52.2 years (1995 est.)
Male: 51.14 years (1996 est.); 50.66 years (1995 est.)
Female: 54.31 years (1996 est.); 53.81 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate:
5.87 children born/woman (1996 est.)
5.98 children born/woman (1995 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over that can read and write (1995 est.)
Total population: 56.6%
Male: 69.4%
Female: 44.4%

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Laos - Government 1996
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Country name
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: Communist state

Capital: Vientiane

Administrative divisions: 16 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural) and 1 municipality* (kampheng nakhon, singular and plural; Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xekong, Xiangkhoang

Dependent areas

Independence: 19 July 1949 (from France)

National holiday: National Day, 2 December (1975) (proclamation of the Lao People's Democratic Republic)

Constitution: Promulgated 14 August 1991

Legal system: Based on traditional customs, French legal norms and procedures, and Socialist practice

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President NOUHAK PHOUMSAVAN (since 25 November 1992)
Head of government: Prime Minister Gen. KHAMTAI SIPHANDON (since 15 August 1991) was appointed for a five-year term by the president with the approval of the National Assembly; Deputy Prime Minister KHAMPHOUI KEOBOUALAPHA (since NA)
Cabinet: Council of Ministers; appointed by the president, approved by the Assembly

Legislative branch: Unicameral National Assembly:Members elected for five-year terms; elections last held 20 December 1992 (next to be held NA 1997; results_percent of vote NA; seats_(85 total) LPRP 85

Judicial branch: 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

International organization participation: ACCT, AsDB, ASEAN (observer), CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, Mekong Group, NAM, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)

Diplomatic representation

Flag descriptionflag of Laos: Three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Laos - Economy 1996
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Economy overview: The government of Laos_one of the few remaining official communist states_has been decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise since 1986. The results, starting from an extremely low base, have been striking_growth has averaged 7.5% annually since 1988. Even so, Laos is a landlocked 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 predominant crop is rice. In non-drought years, Laos is self-sufficient overall in food, but each year flood, pests, and localized drought cause shortages in various parts of the country. For the foreseeable future the economy will continue to depend on aid from the IMF and other international sources; aid from the former USSR/Eastern Europe has been cut sharply. As in many developing countries, deforestation and soil erosion will hamper efforts to maintain the high rate of GDP growth.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate:
8% (1995 est.)
8.4% (1994 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin

Agriculture products: Principal crops_rice (80% of cultivated land), sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, cotton; livestock_buffaloes, hogs, cattle, poultry

Tin and gypsum mining
Electric power
Agricultural processing

Industrial production growth rate: Growth rate 7.5% (1992 est.), accounts for 17% of GDP

Labor force: 1 million-1.5 million
By occupation: Agriculture 80% (1992 est.)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 21% (1992 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $198 million
Expenditures: $351 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: 1 October_30 September

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: total value. $278 million (f.o.b., 1994)
Wood products


Imports: total value:$486 million (c.i.f., 1994)
Fuel oil
Consumer goods


Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $2 billion (1995 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: New kips (NK) per US$1_920 (1995), 717 (1994 est.), 720 (July 1993), 710 (May 1992), 710 (December 1991), 700 (September 1990), 576 (1989)

Laos - Energy 1996
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 870 million kWh

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 44 kWh (1993)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Laos - Communication 1996
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: 6,000 telephones (1991 est.); service to general public very poor; radio communications network provides generally erratic service to government users
Domestic: radio communications
International: satellite earth station_1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean Region)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Laos - Military 1996
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $105 million, 8.1% of GDP (FY92/93)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Laos - Transportation 1996
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 39
With paved runways over 3047 m: 1
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 1
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 13 (1995 est.)
With paved runways under 914 m: 16

Airports with paved runways
Over 3047 m: 1
15-24 to 2437 m: 1
914 to 1523 m: 13 (1995 est.)
Under 914 m: 16

Airports with unpaved runways


Pipelines: Petroleum products 136 km



Waterways: About 4,587 km, primarily Mekong and tributaries; 2,897 additional kilometers are sectionally navigable by craft drawing less than 0.5 m

Merchant marine: total:1 cargo ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,370 GRT/3,000 DWT

Ports and terminals

Laos - Transnational issues 1996
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Disputes international

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: Illicit producer of cannabis, opium poppy for the international drug trade, fourth largest opium producer (85 metric tons in 1994; heroin producer; increasingly used as transshipment point for heroin produced in Burma

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