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Laos (2001)

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Laos 2001 year

Administrative divisions 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
Age structure 0-14 years:
42.75% (male 1,212,577; female 1,196,795)

15-64 years:
53.94% (male 1,494,927; female 1,544,851)

65 years and over:
3.31% (male 85,632; female 101,185) (2001 est.)
Agriculture - products sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton; tea, peanuts, rice; water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Airports 51 (2000 est.)
Airports - with paved runways total:

2,438 to 3,047 m:

1,524 to 2,437 m:

914 to 1,523 m:
2 (2000 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways total:

1,524 to 2,437 m:

914 to 1,523 m:

under 914 m:
25 (2000 est.)
Area total:
236,800 sq km

230,800 sq km

6,000 sq km
Area - comparative slightly larger than Utah
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, and the admission into ASEAN in 1997.
Birth rate 37.84 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Budget revenues:
$211 million

$462 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY98/99 est.)
Capital Vientiane
Climate tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
Coastline 0 km (landlocked)
Constitution promulgated 14 August 1991
Country name conventional long form:
Lao People's Democratic Republic

conventional short form:

local long form:
Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao

local short form:
Currency kip (LAK)
Death rate 13.02 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Debt - external $2.46 billion (1998 est.)
Diplomatic representation from the US chief of mission:
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affairs Karen Brevard STEWART

19 Rue Bartholonie, B. P. 114, Vientiane

mailing address:
American Embassy, Box V, APO AP 96546

[856] (21) 212581, 212582, 212585

[856] (21) 212584
Diplomatic representation in the US chief of mission:
Ambassador VANG Rattanavong

2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

[1] (202) 332-6416

[1] (202) 332-4923
Disputes - international parts of the border with Thailand are indefinite
Economic aid - recipient $345 million (1999 est.)
Economy - overview 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% during 1988-97. Reform efforts subsequently slowed, and GDP growth dropped an average of 3 percentage points. Because Laos depends heavily on its trade with Thailand, it was damaged by the regional financial crisis beginning in 1997. Government mismanagement deepened the crisis, and from June 1997 to June 1999 the Lao kip lost 87% of its value. Laos' foreign exchange problems peaked in September 1999 when the kip fell from 3,500 kip to the dollar to 9,000 kip to the dollar in a matter of weeks. Now that the currency has stabilized, however, the government seems content to let the current situation persist, despite limited government revenue and foreign exchange reserves. A landlocked country with a primitive infrastructure, Laos 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. For the foreseeable future the economy will continue to depend on aid from the IMF and other international sources; Japan is currently the largest bilateral aid donor; aid from the former USSR/Eastern Europe has been cut sharply.
Electricity - consumption 173.6 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports 705 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports 142 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - production 792 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source fossil fuel:



0% (1999)
Elevation extremes lowest point:
Mekong River 70 m

highest point:
Phou Bia 2,817 m
Environment - current issues unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; a majority of the population does not have access to potable water
Environment - international agreements 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
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%
Exchange rates kips per US dollar - 7,578.00 (December 2000), 7,102.03 (1999), 3,298.33 (1998), 1,259.98 (1997), 921.02 (1996)
Executive branch chief of state:
President Gen. KHAMTAI Siphandon (since 26 February 1998) and Vice President Lt. Gen. CHOUMMALI Saignason (since NA March 2001)

head of government:
Prime Minister BOUNGNANG Volachit (since NA March 2001); Deputy Prime Ministers THONGLOUN Sisolit (since NA March 2001), SOMSAVAT Lengsavat (since 26 February 1998)

Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly

president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held 21 December 1997 (next to be held NA 2002); 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%
Exports 705 million kWh (1999)
Exports $323 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities wood products, garments, electricity, coffee, tin
Exports - partners Vietnam, Thailand, Germany, France, Belgium
Fiscal year 1 October - 30 September
Flag description three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band
GDP purchasing power parity - $9 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector agriculture:


27% (1999 est.)
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 4% (2000 est.)
Geographic coordinates 18 00 N, 105 00 E
Geography - note landlocked
Highways total:
14,000 km

3,360 km

10,640 km (1991)
Household income or consumption by percentage share lowest 10%:

highest 10%:
26.4% (1992)
Illicit drugs world's third-largest illicit opium producer (estimated cultivation in 1999 - 21,800 hectares, a 16% decrease over 1998; estimated potential production in 1999 - 140 metric tons, about the same as in 1998); potential heroin producer; transshipment point for heroin and methamphetamine produced in Burma; illicit producer of cannabis
Imports 142 million kWh (1999)
Imports $540 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel
Imports - partners Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, China, Singapore, Hong Kong
Independence 19 July 1949 (from France)
Industrial production growth rate 7.5% (1999 est.)
Industries tin and gypsum mining, timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, tourism
Infant mortality rate 92.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 33% (2000 est.)
International organization participation ACCT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 1 (2000)
Irrigated land 1,250 sq km (1993 est.)

rainy season irrigation - 2,169 sq km; dry season irrigation - 750 sq km (1998 est.)
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)
Labor force 1 million - 1.5 million
Labor force - by occupation agriculture 80% (1997 est.)
Land boundaries total:
5,083 km

border countries:
Burma 235 km, Cambodia 541 km, China 423 km, Thailand 1,754 km, Vietnam 2,130 km
Land use arable land:

permanent crops:

permanent pastures:

forests and woodland:

40% (1993 est.)
Languages Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages
Legal system based on traditional customs, French legal norms and procedures, and Socialist practice
Legislative branch unicameral National Assembly (99 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; note - by presidential decree, on 27 October 1997, the number of seats increased from 85 to 99)

last held 21 December 1997 (next to be held NA 2002)

election results:
percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LPRP or LPRP-approved (independent, non-party members) 99
Life expectancy at birth total population:
53.48 years

51.58 years

55.44 years (2001 est.)
Literacy definition:
age 15 and over can read and write

total population:


44% (1999 est.)
Location Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Map references Southeast Asia
Maritime claims none (landlocked)
Merchant marine total:
1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,370 GRT/3,000 DWT

ships by type:
cargo 1 (2000 est.)
Military branches Lao People's Army (LPA; includes riverine element), Air Force, National Police Department
Military expenditures - dollar figure $55 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 4.2% (FY96/97)
Military manpower - availability males age 15-49:
1,319,537 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service males age 15-49:
710,627 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - military age 18 years of age
Military manpower - reaching military age annually males:
64,437 (2001 est.)
National holiday Republic Day, 2 December (1975)
Nationality noun:
Lao(s) or Laotian(s)

Lao or Laotian
Natural hazards floods, droughts, and blight
Natural resources timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Net migration rate 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Pipelines petroleum products 136 km
Political parties and leaders Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [KHAMTAI Siphandon, party president]; other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leaders noncommunist political groups proscribed; most opposition leaders fled the country in 1975
Population 5,635,967 (July 2001 est.)
Population below poverty line 46.1% (1993 est.)
Population growth rate 2.48% (2001 est.)
Ports and harbors none
Radio broadcast stations AM 12, FM 1, shortwave 4 (1998)
Radios 730,000 (1997)
Railways 0 km
Religions Buddhist 60%, animist and other 40%
Sex ratio 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:
0.85 male(s)/female

total population:
0.98 male(s)/female (2001 est.)
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Telephone system 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

radiotelephone communications

satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)
Telephones - main lines in use 25,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular 4,915 (1997)
Television broadcast stations 4 (1999)
Terrain mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Total fertility rate 5.12 children born/woman (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate 5.7% (1997 est.)
Waterways 4,587 km approximately

primarily Mekong and tributaries; 2,897 additional km are intermittently navigable by craft drawing less than 0.5 m
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