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Laos (2006)

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Laos 2006 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: 41.4% (male 1,324,207/female 1,313,454)

15-64 years: 55.4% (male 1,744,206/female 1,786,139)

65 years and over: 3.1% (male 89,451/female 111,024) (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Airports 44 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways total: 9

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways total: 35

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 13

under 914 m: 21 (2006)
Area total: 236,800 sq km

land: 230,800 sq km

water: 6,000 sq km
Area - comparative slightly larger than Utah
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 three hundred years Lan Xang included large parts of present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came 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 and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1986. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997.
Birth rate 35.49 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Budget revenues: $319.3 million

expenditures: $434.6 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)
Capital name: Vientiane

geographic coordinates: 17 58 N, 102 36 E

time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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 PDR or Laos

local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao

local short form: none
Death rate 11.55 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Debt - external $2.49 billion (2001)
Diplomatic representation from the US chief of mission: Ambassador Patricia M. HASLACH

embassy: 19 Rue Bartholonie, That Dam Road, Vientiane

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

telephone: [856] 21-26 7000

FAX: [856] 21-26 7074
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; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Thailand but disputes remain over several areas along Mekong River and Thai squatters; 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, though the government is sponsoring major improvements in the road system with possible support from Japan. Electricity is available in only a few urban areas. Subsistence agriculture, dominated by rice, accounts for about half of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. The economy will continue to benefit from aid by the IMF and other international sources and from new foreign investment in food processing and mining. Construction will be another strong economic driver, especially as hydroelectric dam and road projects gain steam. In late 2004, Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US, allowing Laos-based producers to face lower tariffs on exports. This new status may help spur growth. In addition, the European Union has agreed to provide $1 million to the Lao Government for technical assistance in preparations for WTO membership. If the avian flu worsens and spreads in the region, however, prospects for tourism could dim.
Electricity - consumption 3.298 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports 435 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports 230 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - production 3.767 billion kWh (2003)
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 (2005), 10,585.5 (2004), 10,569 (2003), 10,056.3 (2002), 8,954.6 (2001)
Executive branch chief of state: President Lt. Gen. CHOUMMALI Saignason (since 8 June 2006) and Vice President BOUN-GNANG Volachit (since 8 June 2006)

head of government: Prime Minister BOUASONE Bouphavanh (since 8 June 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Maj. Gen. ASANG Laoli (since May 2002), Deputy Prime Minister Maj. Gen. DOUANGCHAI Phichit [since 8 June 2006], Deputy Prime Minister SOMSAVAT Lengsavat (since 26 February 1998), and Deputy Prime Minister THONGLOUN Sisolit (since 27 March 2001)

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

elections: president and vice president elected by the National Assembly for five-year terms; election last held 8 June 2006 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister nominated by the president and elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term

election results: CHOUMMALI Saignason elected president; BOUN-GNANG Volachit elected vice president; percent of National Assembly vote - 100%; BOUASONE Bouphavanh elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - 97%
Exports 435 million kWh (2003)
Exports $379 million (2005 est.)
Exports NA bbl/day
Exports - commodities garments, wood products, coffee, electricity, tin
Exports - partners Thailand 29.6%, Vietnam 12%, France 6.1%, Germany 4.6% (2005)
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: 45.5%

industry: 28.7%

services: 25.8% (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 7.3% (2005 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
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 230 million kWh (2003)
Imports $541 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Imports NA bbl/day
Imports - commodities machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partners Thailand 66.1%, China 9%, Vietnam 6.7% (2005)
Independence 19 July 1949 (from France)
Industrial production growth rate 13% (2005 est.)
Industries copper, tin, and gypsum mining; timber, electric power, agricultural processing, construction, garments, tourism, cement
Infant mortality rate total: 83.31 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 92.95 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 73.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 7% (2005 est.)
International organization participation ACCT, APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO (observer)
Irrigated land 1,750 sq km (2003)
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 2.8 million (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation agriculture: 80%

industry and services: 20% (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: 4.01%

permanent crops: 0.34%

other: 95.65% (2005)
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 (115 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

elections: last held 30 April 2006 (next to be held in 2011)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPRP 113, independents 2
Life expectancy at birth total population: 55.49 years

male: 53.45 years

female: 57.61 years (2006 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 (1000 GRT or over) 2,370 GRT/3,110 DWT

by type: cargo 1 (2006)
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 $11.04 million (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 0.4% (2005 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 (2006 est.)
Pipelines refined products 540 km (2006)
Political parties and leaders Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [CHOUMMALY Sayasone]; other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leaders noncommunist political groups proscribed; most opposition leaders fled the country in 1975
Population 6,368,481 (July 2006 est.)
Population below poverty line 34% (2005 est.)
Population growth rate 2.39% (2006 est.)
Radio broadcast stations AM 7, FM 13, shortwave 2 (2006)
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: 0.81 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Telephone system general assessment: service to general public is poor but improving; 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 90,067 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular 520,546 (2006)
Television broadcast stations 7; note - including one station relaying Vietnam Television from Hanoi (2006)
Terrain mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Total fertility rate 4.68 children born/woman (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate 2.4% (2005 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 (2005)
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