Laos

Country Summary

Introduction

Background

Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. 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. In 1975, the communist Pathet Lao took control of the government. A gradual, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988.

Geography

Area

total: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km

Climate

tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)

Natural resources

timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones

People and Society

Population

7,852,377 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

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.)

Languages

Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages

Religions

Buddhist 64.7%, Christian 1.7%, none 31.4%, other/not stated 2.1% (2015 est.)

Population growth rate

1.3% (2023 est.)

Government

Government type

communist state

Capital

name: Vientiane (Viangchan)

Executive branch

chief of state: President THONGLOUN Sisoulith (since 22 March 2021); Vice Presidents PANY Yathotou and BOUNTHONG Chitmany (since 22 March 2021)
head of government: Prime Minister SONEXAY Siphandon (since 30 December 2022)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Sapha Heng Xat (164 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)

Economy

Economic overview

lower middle-income, socialist Southeast Asian economy; one of the fastest growing economies; declining but still high poverty; natural resource rich; new anticorruption efforts; already high and growing public debt; service sector hit hard by COVID-19

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$58.264 billion (2021 est.)
$56.827 billion (2020 est.)
$56.543 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$7,800 (2021 est.)
$7,800 (2020 est.)
$7,800 (2019 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, roots/tubers nes, cassava, sugar cane, vegetables, bananas, maize, watermelons, coffee, taro

Industries

mining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism

Exports

$7.82 billion (2021 est.)
$6.461 billion (2020 est.)
$6.985 billion (2019 est.)

Exports - partners

Thailand 33%, China 27%, Vietnam 13%, Australia 8%, Switzerland 3% (2021)

Exports - commodities

electricity, gold, paper, copper, rubber, flavored water (2021)

Imports

$6.527 billion (2021 est.)
$5.816 billion (2020 est.)
$7.518 billion (2019 est.)

Imports - partners

Thailand 53%, China 26%, Vietnam 10% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, cattle, iron structures, steel products (2019)

Exchange rates

kips (LAK) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
9,697.916 (2021 est.)
9,045.788 (2020 est.)
8,679.409 (2019 est.)
8,401.335 (2018 est.)
8,244.843 (2017 est.)


Page last updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2024