Laos - Economic Indicators

Economic Overview

The government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. Economic growth averaged more than 6% per year in the period 1988-2008, and Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia, averaging more than 7% per year for most of the last decade. Nevertheless, 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...

Continue reading View Factbook for Laos

GDP Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Investment 2017 40,875,877,601,060 37,500,805,138,588 NCU Annual
Nominal Fixed Investment (gross fixed capital formation) 2017 40,875,877,601,060 37,500,805,138,588 NCU Annual
Real Investment 2017 35,563,040,992,327 34,527,224,264,400 NCU Annual
Real Fixed Investment (gross fixed capital formation) 2017 35,563,040,992,327 34,527,224,264,400 NCU Annual
Nominal Gross Domestic Product 2016 128,905,477,526,795 117,251,584,105,162 LAK Annual
Real Gross Domestic Product 2014 135.38 125.86 Index 2005=100 Annual
Price Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Consumer Price Index (CPI) Aug 2018 132.42 131.84 2010=100, NSA Monthly
Labor Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Agriculture Employment 2017 2,209,885 2,184,890 # Annual
Unemployment Rate 2017 0.67 0.66 % of total labor force Annual
Labor Force 2016 3,524,361 3,452,870 # Annual
Wage & Salaries 2016 9,205,909,050,000 8,764,800,000,000 NCU Annual
Trade Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Current Account Balance 2018 Q1 -179,953,684 -385,850,600 USD, NSA Quarterly
Exports of Goods 2018 Q1 1,285,924,501 1,270,195,842 USD, NSA Quarterly
Balance of Goods 2018 Q1 -66,422,599 -284,868,184 USD, NSA Quarterly
Imports of Goods 2018 Q1 1,352,347,101 1,555,064,026 USD, NSA Quarterly
Exports of Goods and Services 2017 48,333,903,619,430 42,932,815,721,334 NCU Annual
Imports of Goods and Services 2017 58,391,267,028,050 54,145,229,942,000 NCU Annual
Real Exports of Goods and Services 2017 51,640,696,978,363 46,523,150,431,000 NCU Annual
Real Imports of Goods and Services 2017 65,333,101,922,085 62,222,001,830,600 NCU Annual
Markets Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Treasury Bills (over 31 days) Mar 2011 7.82 7.74 % p.a., NSA Monthly
Lending Rate Mar 2011 5 5 % Monthly
Business Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Capacity Utilization 2016 84 % Annual
Demographics Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Net Migration 2017 -73,518 # Annual
Population 2017 6,858,160 6,758,353 # Annual
Birth Rate 2016 23.85 24.32 # per Ths. pop. Annual
Death Rate 2016 6.66 6.75 # per Ths. pop. Annual

Factbook

Background

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 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.

Geography

Location:
Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates:
18 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
Area:
total: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
country comparison to the world: 85
Area - comparative:
about twice the size of Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Utah
Land boundaries:
total: 5,274 km
border countries (5): Burma 238 km, Cambodia 555 km, China 475 km, Thailand 1,845 km, Vietnam 2,161 km
Coastline:
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
Climate:
tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
Terrain:
mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Elevation:
mean elevation: 710 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Mekong River 70 m
highest point: Phu Bia 2,817 m
Natural resources:
timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Land use:
agricultural land: 10.6%
arable land 6.2%; permanent crops 0.7%; permanent pasture 3.7%
forest: 67.9%
other: 21.5% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land:
3,100 sq km (2012)
Population - distribution:
most densely populated area is in and around the capital city of Vientiane; large communities are primarily found along the Mekong River along the southwestern border; overall density is considered one of the lowest in Southeast Asia
Natural hazards:
floods, droughts
Environment - current issues:
unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; water pollution, 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
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

People & Society

Population:
7,126,706 (July 2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
Nationality:
noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
adjective: Lao or Laotian
Ethnic groups:
Lao 53.2%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 9.2%, Phouthay 3.4%, Tai 3.1%, Makong 2.5%, Katong 2.2%, Lue 2%, Akha 1.8%, other 11.6%
note: the Laos Government officially recognizes 49 ethnic groups, but the total number of ethnic groups is estimated to be well over 200 (2015 est.)
Languages:
Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages
Religions:
Buddhist 64.7%, Christian 1.7%, none 31.4%, other/not stated 2.1% (2015 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 32.76% (male 1,180,227/female 1,154,550)
15-24 years: 21.17% (male 749,312/female 759,677)
25-54 years: 36.7% (male 1,290,768/female 1,324,390)
55-64 years: 5.48% (male 190,627/female 199,673)
65 years and over: 3.89% (male 125,682/female 151,800) (2017 est.)
population pyramid:
Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 60.2
youth dependency ratio: 54
elderly dependency ratio: 6.2
potential support ratio: 16.1 (2015 est.)
Median age:
total: 23 years
male: 22.7 years
female: 23.3 years (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174
Population growth rate:
1.51% (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
Birth rate:
23.6 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
Death rate:
7.4 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
Net migration rate:
-1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
Population distribution:
most densely populated area is in and around the capital city of Vientiane; large communities are primarily found along the Mekong River along the southwestern border; overall density is considered one of the lowest in Southeast Asia
Urbanization:
urban population: 40.7% of total population (2017)
rate of urbanization: 4.13% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major urban areas - population:
VIENTIANE (capital) 997,000 (2015)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
Maternal mortality ratio:
197 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
Infant mortality rate:
total: 49.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 55.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 44.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.6 years
male: 62.6 years
female: 66.7 years (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
Total fertility rate:
2.7 children born/woman (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
Contraceptive prevalence rate:
49.8% (2011/12)
Health expenditures:
1.9% of GDP (2014)
country comparison to the world: 191
Physicians density:
0.49 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed density:
1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
Drinking water source:
improved:
urban: 85.6% of population
rural: 69.4% of population
total: 75.7% of population
unimproved:
urban: 14.4% of population
rural: 30.6% of population
total: 24.3% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 94.5% of population
rural: 56% of population
total: 70.9% of population
unimproved:
urban: 5.5% of population
rural: 44% of population
total: 29.1% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.3% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
11,000 (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
<500 (2016 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria (2016)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate:
5.3% (2016)
country comparison to the world: 180
Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
26.5% (2011)
country comparison to the world: 22
Education expenditures:
2.9% of GDP (2014)
country comparison to the world: 147
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.9%
male: 87.1%
female: 72.8% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2015)

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
conventional short form: Laos
local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
local short form: Mueang Lao (unofficial)
etymology: name means "Land of the Lao [people]"
Government type:
communist state
Capital:
name: Vientiane (Viangchan)
geographic coordinates: 17 58 N, 102 36 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural) and 1 capital city* (nakhon luang, singular and plural); Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan (Vientiane)*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun, Xekong, Xiangkhouang
Independence:
19 July 1949 (from France)
National holiday:
Republic Day (National Day), 2 December (1975)
Constitution:
history: previous 1947 (preindependence); latest promulgated 13-15 August 1991
amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership and promulgation by the president of the republic; amended 2003, 2015 (2018)
Legal system:
civil law system similar in form to the French system
International law organization participation:
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Citizenship:
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Laos
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President BOUNNYANG Vorachit (since 20 April 2016); Vice President PHANKHAM Viphavan (since 20 April 2016)
head of government: Prime Minister THONGLOUN Sisoulit (since 20 April 2016); Deputy Prime Ministers BOUNTHONG Chitmani, SONXAI Siphandon, SOMDI Douangdi (since 20 April 2016)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 20 April 2016 (next to be held in 2021); prime minister nominated by the president, elected by the National Assembly for 5-year term
election results: BOUNNYANG Vorachit (LPRP) elected president; PHANKHAM Viphavan (LPRP) elected vice president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA; THONGLOUN Sisoulit (LPRP) elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - NA
Legislative branch:
description: unicameral National Assembly or Sapha Heng Xat (149 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote from candidate lists provided by the Lao People's Revolutionary Party; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 20 March 2016 (next to be held in 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPRP 144, independent 5
Judicial branch:
highest court(s): People's Supreme Court (consists of the court president and organized into criminal, civil, administrative, commercial, family, and juvenile chambers, each with a vice president and several judges)
judge selection and term of office: president of People's Supreme Court appointed by National Assembly on recommendation of the president of the republic for a 5-year term; vice presidents of People's Supreme Court appointed by the president of the republic on recommendation of the National Assembly; appointment of chamber judges NA; tenure of court vice presidents and chamber judges NA
subordinate courts: appellate courts; provincial, municipal, district, and military courts
Political parties and leaders:
Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [BOUNNYANG Vorachit]
note: other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International Labor Organization
International organization participation:
ADB, ARF, ASEAN, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO (subscriber), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador MAI Xaignavong (since 3 August 2015)
chancery: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-6416
FAX: [1] (202) 332-4923
consulate(s): New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Rena BITTER (since 2 November 2016)
embassy: Thadeua Road, Kilometer 9, Ban Somvang Tai, Hatsayfong District, Vientiane
mailing address: American Embassy Vientiane, Unit 46222, APO AP 96546-6222
telephone: [856] 21-48-7000
FAX: [856] 21-48-7190
Flag description:
three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band; the red bands recall the blood shed for liberation; the blue band represents the Mekong River and prosperity; the white disk symbolizes the full moon against the Mekong River, but also signifies the unity of the people under the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, as well as the country's bright future
National symbol(s):
elephant; national colors: red, white, blue
National anthem:
name: "Pheng Xat Lao" (Hymn of the Lao People)
lyrics/music: SISANA Sisane/THONGDY Sounthonevichit
note: music adopted 1945, lyrics adopted 1975; the anthem's lyrics were changed following the 1975 Communist revolution that overthrew the monarchy

Economy

Economy - overview:
The government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. Economic growth averaged more than 6% per year in the period 1988-2008, and Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia, averaging more than 7% per year for most of the last decade.
Nevertheless, 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 to 83% of the population. Agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 20% of GDP and 73% of total employment. Recently, the country has faced a persistent current account deficit, falling foreign currency reserves, and growing public debt.
Laos' economy is heavily dependent on capital-intensive natural resource exports. The economy has benefited from high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower dams along the Mekong River, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction, although some projects in these industries have drawn criticism for their environmental impacts.
Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US in 2004 and applied for Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits in 2013 after being admitted to the World Trade Organization earlier in the year. Laos held the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2016. Laos is in the process of implementing a value-added tax system. The government appears committed to raising the country's profile among foreign investors and has developed special economic zones replete with generous tax incentives, but a limited labor pool, a small domestic market, and corruption remain impediments to investment. Laos also has ongoing problems with the business environment, including onerous registration requirements, a gap between legislation and implementation, and unclear or conflicting regulations.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$49.21 billion (2017 est.)
$46.03 billion (2016 est.)
$43.01 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
country comparison to the world: 111
GDP (official exchange rate):
$17.15 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.9% (2017 est.)
7% (2016 est.)
7.3% (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$7,400 (2017 est.)
$7,000 (2016 est.)
$6,600 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
country comparison to the world: 155
Gross national saving:
18% of GDP (2017 est.)
14.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
14.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
GDP - composition, by end use:
household consumption: 62.6%
government consumption: 13.4%
investment in fixed capital: 36%
investment in inventories: 3.1%
exports of goods and services: 35.7%
imports of goods and services: -50.8% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 20.9%
industry: 33.2%
services: 39.1% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products:
sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc, tapioca), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Industries:
mining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
8% (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
Labor force:
3.582 million (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 73.1%
industry: 6.1%
services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
Unemployment rate:
1.5% (2016 est.)
1.5% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
Population below poverty line:
22% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2008 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
36.7 (2008 est.)
34.6 (2002 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
Budget:
revenues: $3.144 billion
expenditures: $4.098 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:
18.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-5.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
Public debt:
67.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
65.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.3% (2017 est.)
2% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
Central bank discount rate:
4.3% (31 December 2010 est.)
4% (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
18.5% (31 December 2017 est.)
18% (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
Stock of narrow money:
$1.303 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.243 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
Stock of broad money:
$9.193 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$8.197 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
Stock of domestic credit:
$9.52 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$8.381 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$1.012 billion (2012 est.)
$576.8 million (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
Current account balance:
$-1.653 billion (2017 est.)
$-1.678 billion (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
Exports:
$2.881 billion (2017 est.)
$2.705 billion (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
Exports - commodities:
wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
Exports - partners:
Thailand 40.1%, China 28.5%, Vietnam 13.7% (2016)
Imports:
$5.852 billion (2017 est.)
$5.547 billion (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partners:
Thailand 64.6%, China 16.5%, Vietnam 9.4% (2016)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$989.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$940.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
Debt - external:
$13.64 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$12.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$15.14 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$12.44 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
Exchange rates:
kips (LAK) per US dollar -
8,231.1 (2017 est.)
8,129.1 (2016 est.)
8,129.1 (2015 est.)
8,147.9 (2014 est.)
8,049 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access:
population without electricity: 900,000
electrification - total population: 87%
electrification - urban areas: 97%
electrification - rural areas: 82% (2013)
Electricity - production:
11.46 billion kWh (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
Electricity - consumption:
4.239 billion kWh (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
Electricity - exports:
8.469 billion kWh (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 26
Electricity - imports:
2.05 billion kWh (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
Electricity - installed generating capacity:
4.541 million kW (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
Electricity - from fossil fuels:
1.1% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
Electricity - from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:
98.2% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
Electricity - from other renewable sources:
0.7% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
Crude oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
Crude oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
Crude oil - imports:
0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
Crude oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
Refined petroleum products - production:
0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
Refined petroleum products - consumption:
3,500 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
Refined petroleum products - exports:
0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
Refined petroleum products - imports:
3,480 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
500,000 Mt (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines:
total subscriptions: 1,266,605
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 18 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
Telephones - mobile cellular:
total: 3,958,510
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 56 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
Telephone system:
general assessment: service to public is generally improving; the government relies on a radiotelephone network to communicate with remote areas
domestic: mobile cellular network coverage including 3G is relatively widespread, although usage has slowed as the regulator imposed a strict policy on pricing and competition is effectively discouraged; network performance has suffered because of insufficient maintenance and upgrades
international: country code - 856; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) and a second to be developed by China (2017)
Broadcast media:
6 TV stations operating out of Vientiane - 3 government-operated and the others commercial; 17 provincial stations operating with nearly all programming relayed via satellite from the government-operated stations in Vientiane; Chinese and Vietnamese programming relayed via satellite from Lao National TV; broadcasts available from stations in Thailand and Vietnam in border areas; multi-channel satellite and cable TV systems provide access to a wide range of foreign stations; state-controlled radio with state-operated Lao National Radio (LNR) broadcasting on 5 frequencies - 1 AM, 1 SW, and 3 FM; LNR's AM and FM programs are relayed via satellite constituting a large part of the programming schedules of the provincial radio stations; Thai radio broadcasts available in border areas and transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are also accessible (2012)
Internet country code:
.la
Internet users:
total: 1.258 million
percent of population: 18.2% (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130

Transportation

National air transport system:
number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,181,187
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,356,497 mt-km (2015)
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix:
RDPL (2016)
Airports:
41 (2013)
country comparison to the world: 103
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 33
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 22 (2013)
Pipelines:
refined products 540 km (2013)
Roadways:
total: 39,586 km
paved: 5,415 km
unpaved: 34,171 km (2009)
country comparison to the world: 89
Waterways:
4,600 km (primarily on the Mekong River and its tributaries; 2,900 additional km are intermittently navigable by craft drawing less than 0.5 m) (2012)
country comparison to the world: 23
Merchant marine:
total: 1
by type: general cargo 1 (2017)
country comparison to the world: 177

Military & Security

Military expenditures:
0.2% of GDP (2013)
0.22% of GDP (2012)
0.23% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 150
Military branches:
Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA, includes Riverine Force), Air Force (2011)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for compulsory or voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18-months (2012)
Military - note:
serving one of the world's least developed countries, the Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF) is small, poorly funded, and ineffectively resourced; its mission focus is border and internal security, primarily in countering ethnic Hmong insurgent groups; together with the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and the government, the Lao People's Army (LPA) is the third pillar of state machinery, and as such is expected to suppress political and civil unrest and similar national emergencies; there is no perceived external threat to the state and the LPA maintains strong ties with the neighboring Vietnamese military (2012)

Transnational Issues

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 islands in the Mekong River; Cambodia and Laos have a longstanding border demarcation dispute; concern among Mekong River Commission members that China's construction of eight dams on the Upper Mekong River and construction of more dams on its tributaries will affect water levels, sediment flows, and fisheries; Cambodia and Vietnam are concerned about Laos' extensive plans for upstream dam construction for the same reasons
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Laos is a source and, to a lesser extent, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Lao economic migrants may encounter conditions of forced labor or sexual exploitation in destination countries, most often Thailand; Lao women and girls are exploited in Thailand’s commercial sex trade, domestic service, factories, and agriculture; a small, possibly growing, number of Lao women and girls are sold as brides in China and South Korea and subsequently sex trafficked; Lao men and boys are victims of forced labor in the Thai fishing, construction, and agriculture industries; some Lao children, as well as Vietnamese and Chinese women and girls, are subjected to sex trafficking in Laos; other Vietnamese and Chinese, and possibly Burmese, adults and girls transit Laos for sexual and labor exploitation in neighboring countries, particularly Thailand
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Laos does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; authorities sustained moderate efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders; the government failed to make progress in proactively identifying victims exploited within the country or among those deported from abroad; the government continues to rely almost entirely on local and international organizations to provide and fund services to trafficking victims; although Lao men and boys are trafficked, most protective services are only available to women and girls, and long-term support is lacking; modest prevention efforts include the promotion of anti-trafficking awareness on state-controlled media (2015)
Illicit drugs:
estimated opium poppy cultivation in 2015 was estimated to be 5,700 hectares, compared with 6,200 hectares in 2014; estimated potential production of between 84 and 176 mt of raw opium; unsubstantiated reports of domestic methamphetamine production; growing domestic methamphetamine problem

Economic Indicators for Laos including actual values, historical data, and latest data updates for the Laos economy.