Main Content

East Asia/Southeast Asia :: Laos Print
Page last updated on November 13, 2018
View 8 photos of
LAOS
  • Introduction :: Laos
  • Background field listing
    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 :: Laos
  • Location field listing
    Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    18 00 N, 105 00 E
    Map references field listing
    Southeast Asia
    Area field listing
    total: 236,800 sq km
    land: 230,800 sq km
    water: 6,000 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 85
    Area - comparative field listing
    about twice the size of Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Utah
    Land boundaries field listing
    total: 5,274 km
    border countries (5): Burma 238 km, Cambodia 555 km, China 475 km, Thailand 1845 km, Vietnam 2161 km
    Coastline field listing
    0 km (landlocked)
    Maritime claims field listing
    none (landlocked)
    Climate field listing
    tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
    Terrain field listing
    mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
    Elevation field listing
    mean elevation: 710 m
    elevation extremes: 70 m lowest point: Mekong River
    2817 highest point: Phu Bia
    Natural resources field listing
    timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
    Land use field listing
    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 field listing
    3,100 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    most densely populated area is in and around the capital city of Vientiane; large communities are primarily found along the Mekong River along the southwestern border; overall density is considered one of the lowest in Southeast Asia
    Natural hazards field listing
    floods, droughts
    Environment - current issues field listing
    unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; water pollution, most of the population does not have access to potable water
    Environment - international agreements field listing
    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
    Geography - note 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
  • People and Society :: Laos
  • Population field listing
    7,234,171 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
    adjective: Lao or Laotian
    Ethnic groups field listing
    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 field listing
    Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages
    Religions field listing
    Buddhist 64.7%, Christian 1.7%, none 31.4%, other/not stated 2.1% (2015 est.)
    Age structure field listing
    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.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios field listing
    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 field listing
    total: 23.4 years
    male: 23 years
    female: 23.7 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 170
    Population growth rate field listing
    1.48% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 76
    Birth rate field listing
    23.2 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 61
    Death rate field listing
    7.3 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    Net migration rate field listing
    -1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 140
    Population distribution field listing
    most densely populated area is in and around the capital city of Vientiane; large communities are primarily found along the Mekong River along the southwestern border; overall density is considered one of the lowest in Southeast Asia
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 35% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 3.28% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    665,000 VIENTIANE (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Maternal mortality rate field listing
    197 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 52
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 48.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 53.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 43 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 65 years (2018 est.)
    male: 62.9 years (2018 est.)
    female: 67.1 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 184
    Total fertility rate field listing
    2.65 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    Contraceptive prevalence rate field listing
    49.8% (2011/12)
    Health expenditures field listing
    1.9% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 191
    Physicians density field listing
    0.49 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    Hospital bed density field listing
    1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: urban: 85.6% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 69.4% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 75.7% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 14.4% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 30.6% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 24.3% of population (2015 est.)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    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 field listing
    0.3% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 81
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    12,000 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    <500 (2017 est.)
    Major infectious diseases field listing
    degree of risk: very high (2016)
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2016)
    vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria (2016)
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate field listing
    5.3% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight field listing
    26.5% (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 15
    Education expenditures field listing
    2.9% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Literacy field listing
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
    total population: 79.9% (2015 est.)
    male: 87.1% (2015 est.)
    female: 72.8% (2015 est.)
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) field listing
    total: 11 years (2015)
    male: 11 years (2015)
    female: 11 years (2015)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 field listing
    total: 1.8% (2010 est.)
    male: 1.9% (2010 est.)
    female: 1.6% (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 168
  • Government :: Laos
  • Country name field listing
    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 field listing
    communist state
    Capital field listing
    name: Vientiane (Viangchan)
    geographic coordinates: 17 58 N, 102 36 E
    time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    Administrative divisions field listing
    17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural) and 1 capital city* (nakhon luang, singular and plural); Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan (Vientiane)*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun, Xekong, Xiangkhouang
    Independence field listing
    19 July 1949 (from France by the Franco-Lao General Convention); 22 October 1953 (Franco-Lao Treaty recognizes full independence)
    National holiday field listing
    Republic Day (National Day), 2 December (1975)
    Constitution field listing
    history: previous 1947 (preindependence); latest promulgated 13-15 August 1991 (2018)
    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)
    International law organization participation field listing
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    Citizenship field listing
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Laos
    dual citizenship recognized: no
    residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch field listing
    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 field listing
    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
    Judicial branch field listing
    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 field listing
    Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [BOUNNYANG Vorachit]

    note: other parties proscribed

    International organization participation field listing
    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
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    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 field listing
    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
    Flag description field listing
    three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band; the red bands recall the blood shed for liberation; the blue band represents the Mekong River and prosperity; the white disk symbolizes the full moon against the Mekong River, but also signifies the unity of the people under the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, as well as the country's bright future
    National symbol(s) field listing
    elephant; national colors: red, white, blue
    National anthem field listing
    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

  • Economy :: Laos
  • Economy - overview field listing

    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) field listing
    $49.34 billion (2017 est.)
    $46.16 billion (2016 est.)
    $43.13 billion (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 111
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $16.97 billion (2017 est.) (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    6.9% (2017 est.)
    7% (2016 est.)
    7.3% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 22
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $7,400 (2017 est.)
    $7,000 (2016 est.)
    $6,600 (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 155
    Gross national saving field listing
    22.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
    21.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
    15.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    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 field listing
    agriculture: 20.9% (2017 est.)
    industry: 33.2% (2017 est.)
    services: 45.9% (2017 est.)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc, tapioca), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
    Industries field listing
    mining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    8% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 23
    Labor force field listing
    3.582 million (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 20.6% (2012 est.)
    industry: 6.1% (2012 est.)
    services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    0.7% (2017 est.)
    0.7% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 4
    Population below poverty line field listing
    22% (2013 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: 30.3% (2008)
    highest 10%: 30.3% (2008)
    Distribution of family income - Gini index field listing
    36.7 (2008)
    34.6 (2002)
    country comparison to the world: 87
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 3.099 billion (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 4.038 billion (2017 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    18.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    -5.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    Public debt field listing
    63.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
    58.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    Fiscal year field listing
    1 October - 30 September
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    0.8% (2017 est.)
    1.6% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    Central bank discount rate field listing
    4.3% (31 December 2010)
    4% (31 December 2009)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    Commercial bank prime lending rate field listing
    18.5% (31 December 2017 est.)
    18% (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 18
    Stock of narrow money field listing
    $1.131 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $1.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    Stock of broad money field listing
    $1.131 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $1.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    Stock of domestic credit field listing
    $9.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $8.623 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 108
    Market value of publicly traded shares field listing
    $1.012 billion (2012 est.)
    $576.8 million (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    Current account balance field listing
    -$2.057 billion (2017 est.)
    -$2.07 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 165
    Exports field listing
    $3.654 billion (2017 est.)
    $2.705 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 121
    Exports - commodities field listing
    wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
    Exports - partners field listing
    Thailand 42.6%, China 28.7%, Vietnam 10.4%, India 4.4% (2017)
    Imports field listing
    $4.976 billion (2017 est.)
    $5.547 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    Imports - commodities field listing
    machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold field listing
    $1.27 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $940.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 128
    Imports - partners field listing
    Thailand 59.1%, China 21.5%, Vietnam 9.8% (2017)
    Debt - external field listing
    $14.9 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $12.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home field listing
    $15.14 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    $12.44 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    Exchange rates field listing
    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.)
  • Energy :: Laos
  • Electricity access field listing
    population without electricity: 900,000 (2013)
    electrification - total population: 87% (2013)
    electrification - urban areas: 97% (2013)
    electrification - rural areas: 82% (2013)
    Electricity - production field listing
    11.46 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 98
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    4.239 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    Electricity - exports field listing
    8.469 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    Electricity - imports field listing
    2.05 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 55
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    4.541 million kW (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 80
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    1.1% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 124
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    98.2% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 5
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    0.7% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 143
    Crude oil - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    0 bbl (1 January 2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    3,500 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 170
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    3,480 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 174
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 156
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 165
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 158
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    500,000 Mt (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 184
  • Communications :: Laos
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 1,125,469 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 3,711,813 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 52 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    Telephone system field listing
    general assessment: service to public is generally improving; the government relies on a radiotelephone network to communicate with remote areas (2017)
    domestic: mobile cellular network coverage including 3G is relatively widespread, although usage has slowed as the regulator imposed a strict policy on pricing and competition is effectively discouraged; network performance has suffered because of insufficient maintenance and upgrades (2017)
    international: country code - 856; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) and a second to be developed by China (2017)
    Broadcast media field listing
    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 (2012)
    Internet country code field listing
    .la
    Internet users field listing
    total: 1.258 million (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 18.2% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions field listing
    total: 27,217 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 143
  • Transportation :: Laos
  • National air transport system field listing
    number of registered air carriers: 1 (2015)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11 (2015)
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,181,187 (2015)
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,356,497 mt-km (2015)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix field listing
    RDPL (2016)
    Airports field listing
    41 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    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 - with unpaved runways field listing
    total: 33 (2013)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2013)
    under 914 m: 22 (2013)
    Pipelines field listing
    540 km refined products (2013)
    Roadways field listing
    total: 39,586 km (2009)
    paved: 5,415 km (2009)
    unpaved: 34,171 km (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    Waterways field listing
    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)
    country comparison to the world: 23
    Merchant marine field listing
    total: 1 (2017)
    by type: general cargo 1 (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 173
  • Military and Security :: Laos
  • Military expenditures field listing
    0.2% of GDP (2013)
    0.22% of GDP (2012)
    0.23% of GDP (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 151
    Military branches field listing
    Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA, includes Riverine Force), Air Force (2011)
    Military service age and obligation field listing
    18 years of age for compulsory or voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18-months (2012)
    Military - note field listing
    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)
  • Transnational Issues :: Laos
  • Disputes - international field listing
    southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flutalks continue on completion of demarcation with Thailand but disputes remain over islands in the Mekong River; Cambodia and Laos have a longstanding border demarcation disputeconcern 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 fisheriesCambodia and Vietnam are concerned about Laos' extensive plans for upstream dam construction for the same reasons
    Trafficking in persons field listing
    current situation: Laos is a source and, to a lesser extent, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Lao economic migrants may encounter conditions of forced labor or sexual exploitation in destination countries, most often Thailand; Lao women and girls are exploited in Thailand’s commercial sex trade, domestic service, factories, and agriculture; a small, possibly growing, number of Lao women and girls are sold as brides in China and South Korea and subsequently sex trafficked; Lao men and boys are victims of forced labor in the Thai fishing, construction, and agriculture industries; some Lao children, as well as Vietnamese and Chinese women and girls, are subjected to sex trafficking in Laos; other Vietnamese and Chinese, and possibly Burmese, adults and girls transit Laos for sexual and labor exploitation in neighboring countries, particularly Thailand
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Laos does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; authorities sustained moderate efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders; the government failed to make progress in proactively identifying victims exploited within the country or among those deported from abroad; the government continues to rely almost entirely on local and international organizations to provide and fund services to trafficking victims; although Lao men and boys are trafficked, most protective services are only available to women and girls, and long-term support is lacking; modest prevention efforts include the promotion of anti-trafficking awareness on state-controlled media (2015)
    Illicit drugs field listing
    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