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Laos (2005)

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Laos 2005 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, Louangphrabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan (Vientiane)*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun**, Xekong, Xiangkhoang
Age structure 0-14 years: 41.6% (male 1,300,094/female 1,289,227)

15-64 years: 55.2% (male 1,693,494/female 1,737,196)

65 years and over: 3.2% (male 88,744/female 108,386) (2005 est.)
Agriculture - products sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice, water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Airports 44 (2004 est.)
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 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways total: 35

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 13

under 914 m: 21 (2004 est.)
Area total: 236,800 sq km

land: 230,800 sq km

water: 6,000 sq km
Area - comparative slightly larger than Utah
Background Laos was under the control 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. 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 35.99 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Budget revenues: $284.3 million

expenditures: $416.5 million, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 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
Death rate 11.83 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Debt - external $2.49 billion (2001)
Diplomatic representation from the US chief of mission: Ambassador Patricia M. HASLACH

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 Southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; Laos and Thailand pledge to complete demarcation of boundaries in 2005, while ongoing disputes over squatters and boundary encroachment by Thailand including Mekong River islets persist; in 2004 Cambodian-Laotian boundary commission agrees to re-erect missing markers in two adjoining provinces; concern among Mekong Commission members that China's construction of dams on the Mekong River will affect water levels
Economic aid - recipient $243 million (2001 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 6% in 1988-2004 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. The government has sponsored major improvements in the road system. 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. In late 2004, Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US, allowing Laos-based producers to face lower tariffs on their exports; this may help spur growth.
Electricity - consumption 3.036 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports 400 million kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports 125 million kWh (2002)
Electricity - production 3.56 billion kWh (2002)
Elevation extremes lowest point: Mekong River 70 m

highest point: Phou Bia 2,817 m
Environment - current issues unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water
Environment - international agreements party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, 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 and the Yao 9%, ethnic Vietnamese/Chinese 1%
Exchange rates kips per US dollar - 10,820 (2004), 10,569 (2003), 10,056.3 (2002), 8,954.6 (2001), 7,887.6 (2000)
Executive branch chief of state: President Gen. KHAMTAI Siphadon (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 Bouasone BOUPHAVANH (since 3 October 2003) Deputy Prime Minister Maj. Gen. ASANG Laoli (since 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 in 2007); prime minister appointed by the president with the approval of the National Assembly for a five-year term

election results: KHAMTAI Siphadon elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA%
Exports 400 million kWh (2002)
Exports $365.5 million (2004 est.)
Exports NA
Exports - commodities garments, wood products, coffee, electricity, tin
Exports - partners Thailand 19.3%, Vietnam 13.4%, France 8%, Germany 5.3%, UK 5% (2004)
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 - composition by sector agriculture: 49.5%

industry: 27.5%

services: 23% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $1,900 (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 6% (2004 est.)
Geographic coordinates 18 00 N, 105 00 E
Geography - note landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River 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 estimated cultivation in 2004 - 10,000 hectares, a 45% decrease from 2003; estimated potential production in 2004 - 49 metric tons, a significant decrease from 200 metric tons in 2003 (2005)
Imports 125 million kWh (2002)
Imports $579.5 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports NA
Imports - commodities machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partners Thailand 60.5%, China 10.3%, Vietnam 7.1%, Singapore 4% (2004)
Independence 19 July 1949 (from France)
Industrial production growth rate 9.7% (2001 est.)
Industries tin and gypsum mining, timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, tourism
Infant mortality rate total: 85.22 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 95.04 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 75.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 12.3% (2004 est.)
International organization participation ACCT, APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO (observer)
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 2.6 million (2001 est.)
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: 3.8%

permanent crops: 0.35%

other: 95.85% (2001)
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 in 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: 55.08 years

male: 53.07 years

female: 57.17 years (2005 est.)
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 66.4%

male: 77.4%

female: 55.5% (2002)
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) 2,370 GRT/3,110 DWT

by type: cargo 1 (2005)
Military - note Laos is one of the world's least developed countries; the Lao People's Armed Forces are small, poorly funded, and ineffectively resourced; there is little political will to allocate sparse funding to the military, and the armed forces' gradual degradation is likely to continue; the massive drug production and trafficking industry centered in the Golden Triangle makes Laos an important narcotics transit country, and armed Wa and Chinese smugglers are active on the Lao-Burma border (2005)
Military branches Lao People's Army (LPA; includes Riverine Force), Air Force
Military expenditures - dollar figure $10.7 million (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 0.5% (2004)
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 (2005 est.)
Pipelines refined products 540 km (2004)
Political parties and leaders Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [KHAMTAI Siphadon, party president]; other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leaders noncommunist political groups proscribed; most opposition leaders fled the country in 1975
Population 6,217,141 (July 2005 est.)
Population below poverty line 40% (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 2.42% (2005 est.)
Radio broadcast stations AM 12, FM 1, shortwave 4 (1998)
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: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2005 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: country code - 856; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)
Telephones - main lines in use 61,900 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular 55,200 (2002)
Television broadcast stations 4 (1999)
Terrain mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Total fertility rate 4.77 children born/woman (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate 5.7% (1997 est.)
Waterways 4,600 km

note: primarily Mekong and tributaries; 2,897 additional km are intermittently navigable by craft drawing less than 0.5 m (2003)
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