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Laos (2003)

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Laos 2003 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: 42.2% (male 1,255,172; female 1,242,823)

15-64 years: 54.6% (male 1,592,697; female 1,639,431)

65 years and over: 3.2% (male 87,192; female 104,230) (2003 est.)
Agriculture - products sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton; tea, peanuts, rice; water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Airports 51 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways total: 9

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways total: 42

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 15

under 914 m: 26 (2002)
Area total: 236,800 sq km

land: 230,800 sq km

water: 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, a liberalization of foreign investment laws, and the admission into ASEAN in 1997.
Birth rate 36.93 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Budget revenues: $211 million

expenditures: $462 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY98/99 est. 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: Laos

local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao

local short form: none
Currency kip (LAK)
Death rate 12.39 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Debt - external $2.53 billion (1999)
Diplomatic representation from the US chief of mission: Ambassador Douglas A. HARTWICK

embassy: 19 Rue Bartholonie, B. P. 114, Vientiane

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

telephone: [856] (21) 212581, 212582, 212585

FAX: [856] (21) 212584
Diplomatic representation in the US chief of mission: Ambassador PHANTHONG Phommahaxay

chancery: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 332-6416

FAX: [1] (202) 332-4923
Disputes - international demarcation of boundaries with Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam is nearing completion, but with Thailand several areas including Mekong River islets remain in dispute; ongoing disputes with Thailand and Vietnam over squatters
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% in 1988-2001 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis beginning in 1997. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a 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 economy will continue to benefit from aid from the IMF and other international sources and from new foreign investment in food processing and mining.
Electricity - consumption 824.7 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports 400 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports 0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - production 1.317 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source fossil fuel: 1.4%

hydro: 98.6%

nuclear: 0%

other: 0% (2001)
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 - 7,562 (2002), 8,954.58 (2001), 7,887.64 (2000), 7,102.02 (1999), 3,298.33 (1998)
Executive branch chief of state: President Gen. KHAMTAI Siphandon (since 26 February 1998) and Vice President Lt. Gen. CHOUMMALI Saignason (since 27 March 2001)

head of government: Prime Minister BOUNGNANG Volachit (since 27 March 2001); First Deputy Prime Minister Maj. Gen. ASANG Laoli (since NA May 2002), Deputy Prime Minister THONGLOUN Sisolit (since 27 March 2001), and Deputy Prime Minister SOMSAVAT Lengsavat (since 26 February 1998)

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

elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; election last held 24 February 2002 (next to be held NA 2007); 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 400 million kWh (2001)
Exports $345 million (2002 est.)
Exports NA (2001)
Exports - commodities wood products, garments, electricity, coffee, tin
Exports - partners Vietnam 25.7%, Thailand 19%, France 7.5%, Germany 5.3% (2002)
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 - $10.4 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector agriculture: 53%

industry: 23%

services: 24% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $1,800 (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 5.7% (2002 est.)
Geographic coordinates 18 00 N, 105 00 E
Geography - note landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
Highways total: 21,716 km

paved: 9,664 km

unpaved: 12,052 km (1999 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share lowest 10%: 3.2%

highest 10%: 30.6% (1997)
Illicit drugs world's third-largest illicit opium producer (estimated cultivation in 2002 - 23,200 hectares, a 5% increase over 2001; estimated potential production in 2002 - 180 metric tons, a 10% decrease from 2001); potential heroin producer; transshipment point for heroin and methamphetamine produced in Burma; illicit producer of cannabis; growing methamphetamine abuse problem
Imports 0 kWh (2001)
Imports $555 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports NA (2001)
Imports - commodities machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partners Thailand 58.9%, Vietnam 12.3%, China 7.9% (2002)
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 total: 88.94 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 99.1 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 78.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 10% (2002 est.)
International organization participation ACCT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, 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 1,640 sq km

note: 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 2.4 million (1999)
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: 3.47%

permanent crops: 0.23%

other: 96.3% (1998 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 (109 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; note - total number of seats increased from 99 to 109 for the 2002 election)

elections: last held 24 February 2002 (next to be held NA 2007)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LPRP or LPRP-approved (independent, non-party members) 109
Life expectancy at birth total population: 54.3 years

male: 52.34 years

female: 56.33 years (2003 est.)
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 52.8%

male: 67.5%

female: 38.1% (2003 est.)
Location Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Map references Southeast Asia
Maritime claims none (landlocked)
Merchant marine total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 2,370 GRT/3,110 DWT

ships by type: cargo 1 (2002 est.)
Military branches Lao People's Army (LPA; including Riverine Force), Air Force, National Police Department
Military expenditures - dollar figure $55 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 4.2% (FY96)
Military manpower - availability males age 15-49: 1,411,042 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service males age 15-49: 759,499 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - military age 18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually males: 67,260 (2003 est.)
National holiday Republic Day, 2 December (1975)
Nationality noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)

adjective: Lao or Laotian
Natural hazards floods, droughts
Natural resources timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Net migration rate 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Pipelines refined products 540 km (2003)
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 5,921,545 (July 2003 est.)
Population below poverty line 40% (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 2.45% (2003 est.)
Ports and harbors none
Radio broadcast stations AM 12, FM 1, shortwave 4 (1998)
Railways 0 km
Religions Buddhist 60%, animist and other 40% (including various Christian denominations 1.5%)
Sex ratio at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2003 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

domestic: radiotelephone communications

international: 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 4.94 children born/woman (2003 est.)
Unemployment rate 5.7% (1997 est.)
Waterways 4,587 km approximately

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