macrohistory & world report

Lao People's Democratic Republic

Map of Laos amid neighboring countries

Laos in Southeast Asia amid neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "The government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. The results, starting from an extremely low base, were striking – growth averaged 6% per year from 1988-2008 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis that began in 1997. Laos' growth exceeded 7% per year during 2008-13. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. It has a basic, but improving, road system, and limited external and internal land-line telecommunications. Electricity is available in 83% of the country. Laos' economy is heavily dependent on capital-intensive natural resource exports. The labor force, however, still relies on agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, which accounts for about 25% of GDP and 73% of total employment. Economic growth has reduced official poverty rates from 46% in 1992 to 26% in 2010. The economy also has benefited from high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction though some projects in these industries have drawn criticism for their environmental impacts."

Economic growth rate
2013: 8.3%
2012: 7.9%
2011: 8.0%

Labor force in agriculture
2010: 75.1%

Unemployment rate:
2009: 2.5%

Export commodities
Wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold

Export partners
2010: Thailand 31.1%, China 23%, Vietnam 12.9%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports$ 1.842 billion, imports $2.37 billion

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 83rd among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal).

Health expenditures
2009: 6.5% of GDP


juy 2014: 6,803,699

Population growth rate
2014: 1.59%

Infant mortality
2014: 54.53 deaths per 1,000 live births
(ranks 33rd among 224 countries)

Life expectancy at birth:
2014: 63.51 years

Living in an urban area:
2010: 33%
2008: 31%

Literacy (15 and older)
2005 census: males 83%, females 63%

Ethnic groups
2005 census: Lao 55%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 8%, other (over 100 minor ethnic groups) 26%

2005 census: Buddhist 67%, Christian 1.5%, other and unspecified 31.5%


Southeast Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam. Landlocke. Slightly larger in area than Utah.


Dominated by the Lao People's Revolutionary (Communist) Party. The president and vice-president are elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term. The president appoints a prime minister. The legislature (National Assembly) is unicameral with 132 members elected by popular vote from a list of candidates selected by the People's Revolutionary Party to serve five-year terms.

Capital: Vientiane.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.