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Laos Country Guide

Explore Laos in Asia

Laos with the capital city Vientiane is located in Asia (Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand). It covers some 236,800 square kilometres (slightly larger than Utah) with 6,677,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Laos

The landscape offers mostly rugged mountains with some plains and plateaus. The average density of population is approximately 28 per km². The notable climate conditions in Laos can be described as tropical monsoon with rainy season (May to November) and dry season (December to April). Potential threats by nature are floods, droughts.

To reach someone in Laos dial +856 prior to a number. There are 132,200 installed telephones. And there are 3,235,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900/1800 MHz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".la". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 230V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Laos

Laos Flag Icon

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.

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 Quick-Facts

SummaryContinent: Asia
Neighbours: China, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam
Capital: Vientiane
Size236,800 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 91,428 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly larger than Utah
CurrencyName Kip, Currency Code:LAK
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).la
Telephone Country Prefix+856
Mobile Phone Connections3,235,000
Landline Phone Connections132,200

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Area236,800 (sq km)84

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population6,695,166 102
Population growth rate1.63 (%)74
Birth rate25.23 (births/1,000 population)57
Death rate7.86 (deaths/1,000 population)107
Net migration rate-1.12 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)148
Maternal mortality rate470.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)20
Infant mortality rate56.13 (deaths/1,000 live births)34
Life expectancy at birth63.14 (years)182
Total fertility rate2.98 (children born/woman)60
Health expenditures4.50 (% of GDP)155
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.20 (%)102
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS8,500 106
HIV/AIDS - deaths200 106
Obesity - adult prevalence rate2.60 (%)179
Children under the age of 5 years underweight31.60 (%)13
Education expenditures3.30 (% of GDP)135


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)19,520,000,000 133
GDP - real growth rate8.30 (%)17
GDP - per capita (PPP)3,100 176
Labor force3,690,000 95
Unemployment rate2.50 (%)18
Distribution of family income - Gini index36.70 81
Investment (gross fixed)28.60 (% of GDP)26
Taxes and other revenues22.40 (% of GDP)142
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-2.10 (% of GDP)85
Public debt48.00 (% of GDP)69
Inflation rate (consumer prices)4.90 (%)136
Central bank discount rate4.00 (%)92
Commercial bank prime lending rate21.90 (%)14
Stock of narrow money1,159,000,000 144
Stock of broad money3,556,000,000 137
Stock of domestic credit2,916,000,000 131
Industrial production growth rate17.70 (%)3
Current account balance30,500,000 55
Exports2,280,000,000 140
Imports2,645,000,000 153
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold821,700,000 142
Debt - external5,599,000,000 110


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production1,553,000,000 (kWh)142
Electricity - consumption2,230,000,000 (kWh)137
Electricity - exports341,000,000 (kWh)65
Electricity - imports999,000,000 (kWh)66
Electricity - installed generating capacity1,855,000 (kW)105
Electricity - from fossil fuels2.70 (% of total installed capacity)200
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants97.30 (% of total installed capacity)8
Refined petroleum products - consumption3,391 (bbl/day)178
Refined petroleum products - imports1,918 (bbl/day)180
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy1,189,000 (Mt)164


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use107,600 143
Telephones - mobile cellular5,481,000 101
Internet hosts1,532 166
Internet users300,000 130


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports42 103
Roadways39,568 (km)90
Waterways4,600 (km)24


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Military expenditures0.20 (% of GDP)168

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Town of Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrat ...
Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape
The Champasak cultural landscape, including the Vat Phou Temple complex, is a remarkably well-preserved planned landscape more than 1,000 years old. It was shaped to express the Hindu vision of the relationship between nature and humanity, using an a ...