Map Laos
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of Laos


Background: 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.
Location: Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Area land: 230,800 sq km
Area water: 6,000 sq km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Country name conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
Country name conventional short form: Laos
Country name former: Lao People's Democratic Republic
Population: 6,477,211 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 36.7% (male 1,197,579/female 1,181,523); 15-64 years: 59.6% (male 1,908,176/female 1,950,544); 65 years and over: 3.7% (male 107,876/female 131,513) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 1.684% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 26.13 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 8.13 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female; total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 59.46 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 65.49 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 53.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 62.39 years; male: 60.5 years; female: 64.36 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 3.14 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 8,500 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 200 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s); adjective: Lao or Laotian;
Ethnic groups: Lao 55%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 8%, other (over 100 minor ethnic groups) 26% (2005 census);
Religions: Buddhist 67%, Christian 1.5%, other and unspecified 31.5% (2005 census);
Languages: Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 73%; male: 83%; female: 63% (2005 Census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $15.68 billion (2010 est.); $14.55 billion (2009 est.); $13.53 billion (2008 est.);

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $6.341 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 7.8% (2010 est.); 7.5% (2009 est.); 7.2% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $2,400 (2010 est.); $2,300 (2009 est.); $2,200 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 29.8%; industry: 31.7%; services: 38.5% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 26% (2010 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.4%; highest 10%: 28.5% (2002);
Labor force: 3.69 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 75.1%; industry and services: 20% (2010 est.);
Unemployment rate: 2.5% (2009 est.); 2.4% (2005 est.);
Budget: revenues: $1.137 billion; expenditures: $1.328 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: copper, tin, gold, and gypsum mining; timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, cement, tourism;
Industrial production growth rate: 17.7% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 1.553 billion kWh (2010 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 2.23 billion kWh (2010 est.);
Electricity - exports: 341 million kWh (2010 est.);
Electricity - imports: 999 million kWh (2010 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.

Laos in the News

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Displaying 1 to 4 of 6 items.

'I Little Slave': An Interview With Bounsang Khamkeo

Bounsang Khamkeo survived seven years in the secret jungle prisons of the Communist Pathet Lao. His memoir,

Laos: Still a Secret War

The ragtag Hmong guerrillas are one of many small groups estimated to number between 2,000 and 12,000 still hiding in the mountains of Laos.

'Secret War' Still Killing Thousands

The poor Southeast Asian nation of Laos still bears the scars from the most extensive U.S.-led aerial bombing campaign since World War II.

Vientiane Burlesque

The situation in Laos today - gross corruption, unpaid deserting soldiers, and an economy dependent on foreign aid closely resembles the scene in the late 1950's. All that's missing is a war in Vietnam.