Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Population: 6 803 699

GDP: 10 100 000 000.00 $



Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th century under King Fa Ngum. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination 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, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of Asean in 1997 and the WTO in 2013.



Population: 6,803,699 (2014)


Nationality: noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s) adjective: Lao or Laotian


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


Languages: Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages


Religions: Buddhist 67%, Christian 1.5%, other and unspecified 31.5%



GDP: $10 100 000 000.00 (2013)

Military Organization


Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA; includes Riverine Force), Air Force.


Conflicts and Disputes



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 islands in the Mekong River; concern among Mekong River Commission members that China's construction of dams on the Mekong River and its tributaries will affect water levels; Cambodia and Vietnam are concerned about Laos' extensive upstream dam construction.


Laos has estimated opium poppy cultivation in 2008 was 1,900 hectares, about a 73% increase from 2007; estimated potential opium production in 2008 more than tripled to 17 metric tons; unsubstantiated reports of domestic methamphetamine production; growing domestic methamphetamine problem.

Geographical Information and Map


Capital: name: Vientiane (Viangchan).


Location: Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam. Laos is landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand.


Geographic coordinates:

18 00 N, 105 00 E



total: 236,800 sq km

land: 230,800 sq km

water: 6,000 sq km


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.


Coastline: 0 km (landlocked).



Natural resources: timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones.