General information
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Location
In South Asia ; between 20°34’ to 26°38’ north latitude and between 88 01 to 9241 east longitude; Maximum extension is about 440 km in E-W direction and 760 km in NNW-SSE direction

Capital
Capital: Vientiane
Map
Map
Size
total: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km

Geography
Lao PDR is a landlocked country. It shares a 505 km border with China to the north, 435 km of border with Cambodia to the south, 2,069 km of border with Vietnam to the east, 1,835 km of border with Thailand to the west, and a 236 km border with Myanmar to the northwest. The country stretches for 1,700 km north to south, with an east-west width of over 500 km at its widest, only 140 km at the narrowest point.

The Lao PDR covers a total area of 236,800 square kilometres, three-quarters of which are mountains and plateaux.

The north is dominated by mountains which average 1,500 metres above sea level. The highest peak is the 2,800 metre Phou Bia in Xieng Khouang province.

The plains region comprises large and small plains along the Mekong River. Among them the largest is the Vientiane Plain, on the lower reaches of the Nam Ngum River. Also significant are the Savannakhet plain, on the lower reaches of the Se Bang Fai and Se Bang Hieng rivers, and the Champassak plain, which is on the Mekong River, stretching from Thai and Cambodian borders. Blessed with fertile soil, these plains represent one quarter of the total area and are the “granaries” of the country.

Climate
Lao PDR enjoys a tropical climate with two distinct seasons; the rainy season lasts from the beginning of May to the end of September and the dry season from October to April. The yearly average temperature is about 28o C, rising to a maximum of 38o C during April and May. The weather in the mountains in the north and in the high range of the Annamite Chain bordering Vietnam in the east is semi-tropical. The difference in day and night temperatures is about 10o C.

Lao PDR has around 2,300-2,400 hours of sunlight per year. The atmospheric humidity is usually 70-80%, and 75-90% of the precipitation is recorded in the rainy season, from May to October. Rainfall in the dry season, November to April, accounts for only10-25%. There is a sharp difference in rainfall between regions.

Population
The population of the Lao PDR has reached 5,722,000 (2005-06 est.), and is growing at an annual rate of 2.4%. The average population density is 21 per square kilometers, giving Laos the lowest population density in Asia. The highest population density in Laos is in Vientiane Capital, with 149 per square kilometers.

About 85% of the population are rural dwellers. Over 70% (2,220,547) are engaged in productive work, and 936,870 are unemployed, a classification which includes students (69.4%), domestic workers (12.6%), the elderly people (14.6%). There are 576,758 people working in towns, and 2,580,659 in the countryside.

Major ethnic group:
The Lao population comprises three main ethnic groups: the Lao Loum (lowland), 68%, the Lao Theung (low mountains), 22%, and Lao Sung (high mountains), 10%. The population density of Laos is 23 persons per square kilometer and roughly 85% of the population live in rural areas.

Religion:
Buddhism is the dominant religion with more than 85% of the population as believers.

Age structure:
0-14 years: 39.4% (male: 1.122.481; female: 1. 094.7981) (2005)
15-64 years: 56.7% (male: 1.575.535; female: 1.610.771)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male: 102.364; female: 115.373)

Population growth rate: 2.4% (2005)

Birth rate: 34.7 births / 1,000 population (2005)

Death rate: 9.8 deaths / 1,000 population (2005)

Infant (children under one) mortality rate: 70 deaths/1,000 live births (2005)

Infant (children under five) mortality rate: 98 deaths/1,000 live births (2005)

Life expectancy at birth: 61 years (2005)

Flag and Meaning:


Description: Two horizontal red bands (on the top and bottom), with a large white disk centered in the wide blue band.

National Emblem:



National day: 2 December (1975)

Time: The time in Laos is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean time (GMS’7)

Language: Lao language is the national language. Other languages used are French, English, Chinese, Thai, Vietnam.
   
Lao Government:

Country name:
  • Conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
  • Conventional short form: Lao PDR
  • Local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
  • Local short form: None
Administrative divisions:
17 provinces (khoueng), Vientiane Capital (Nakhonluang Vientiane), Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Luangnamtha, Louangphrabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viantiane, Xaignabouli, Xekong, Xiangkhoang.

Constitution: Promulgated 15 August 1991

Executive branch:
Head of State: President Choummaly SAYASONE (since 2006) and Vice President Bounnhang VORACHITH.

Political Parties and Leaders:
Lao People’s Revolutionary Party or LPRP H.E.Mr.Choummaly SAYASONE, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao PR Party, President of Lao PDR

Head of government:
  • Prime Minister H.E Mr. Bouasone BOUPHAVANH (since 2006);
  • 4 Deputy Prime Ministers, namely:
    Maj. Gen. ASANG Laoli, Deputy Prime Minister,
    H.E Mr. Thongloun SISOULITH,
    H.E Mr. Duangchai PHICHITH and,
    H.E Mr. Somsavad LENGSAVAT, Deputy Prime Minister and
    Standing Government Member

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).
Elections: President is elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term; Prime Minister is appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly for a five-year term
   
(Beginning) in early 1986, the Lao Government undertakes to move from a centrally to market-oriented economy. The reform measures are known as “the New Economic Mechanism - NEM”. Since the introduction of the “NEM”, Lao economy has steadily grown by an average rate of 6.2 %/year.
  • The GDP composition by Sectors of the Lao Economy in the year 2005-06 is as follows:
    Agriculture (%): 45.40
    Industry (%): 28.22
    Services (%): 26.38
    Inflation rate %: 9.6
  • GDP Per Capita(USD) : 491 (2005-06)
Natural Resource:
Lao PDR is endowned with abundant natural resources. Beneath the earth’s surface, the mineral deposits include tin, iron, coal, zinc, copper, gold, silver, sulphur and sapphires. Although mining is still in its infancy, prospecting surveys show that quantity and density of mineral deposits are quite high. On the surface the country has a wealth of forests, covering 47% of the surface. They comprise a variety of species, with many of high economic value such as Khagnoung, Khamphi, Dou, Eaglewood and Longleng.
   
One of the trademarks of Lao PDR is the diversity of its people and cultures. There are a number of traditional arts and crafts that represent their way of life. Lao PDR has a rich cultural heritage with religious art and architecture forming the cornerstone of artistic traditions.


Lao religious images and art are also distinctive and set Lao apart from its neighbors



Lao Festivals & Events:
Lao PDR celebrates many annual festivals called “BOUN” which are particularly enjoyable and beautiful, signifying traditional aspects of Lao lifestyle. Most festivals related to connected with religion and the yearly rice farming cycle. The timing festivals are calculated according to the Buddhist lunar calendar.
   
Lao PDR has joined Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) since its inception in 2002 as a member country, Lao PDR actively participates in each ACD Foreign Minister Meeting every year as well as various activities organized by the member countries. Lao PDR has considered joining as a participating country in 8 areas of cooperation namely: Energy, Poverty Reduction, Agriculture, Transport Linkage, E-commerce, SMEs, Tourism and Finance and also fully supports all areas of cooperation as well. The Lao government is considering to be a Co-Prime Mover on an area of its competence of the cooperation in the near future.

International organization participation:
ACCT, APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, ASEM, CP, FAO, FEALAC, 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, WTO (observer).
   

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