Fast Facts

Country Name:
conventional long form: Lao People’s Democratic Republic
conventional short form:Laos

Capital: Vientiane (Viangchan)

Currency: Lao Kip (Code: LAK)

Geographic Coordinates: 18 00 N, 105 00 E

– total: 236, 800 sq km
– land: 230, 800 sq km
– water: 6,000 sq km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Terrain: mainly rugged mountains with dense jungle, some plains and plateaus

Natural Resources: tin, timber, potassium, petroleum, hydropower, gypsum, gold, gemstones

Land use:
– arable land: 4.01%
– permanent crops: .34%
– other: 95.65 % (2005)

Population: 6,834,345 million (2009 est.)

Nationality: Lao (s) or Laotian (s)

Ethnic groups:
Lao-Lum 68%, Mon-Khmer 22%, Lao-Soung or Hmong 9% other ethnic groups 1%

Buddhist 67%, Christians 1.5%, other and unspecified 31.5% (2005 est.)

Official language: Lao
Others: French, English, and ethnic languages

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 68.7%
Male: 77%
Female: 60.9% (2001 census)

Government Type: Communist State

Independence: 19 July 1949 (from France)

National Holiday: 2 December (1975) Republic Day

Constitution: promulgated 14 August 1991; amended in 2003

Legal System: based on traditional customs, French legal norms and procedures and social practices; has not accepted compulsory International Court Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal


Executive: head of state: President Lt. Gen. CHOUMMALI Saignason (since 8 June 2006); Vice President BOUN-GNANG Volachit (since 8 June 2006)
Head of Government: Prime Minister BOUASONE Bouphavanh (since 8 June 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Maj. Gen. ASANG Laoli (since May 2002), Lt. Gen. DAUANGCHAI Phichit (since 8 June 2006), SOMSAVAT Lengsavat (since 26 February 1998) and THONGLOUN Sisoulit (since 27 March 2001)
Cabinet: Ministers appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
Elections: president and vice president are elected by National Assembly for five year term; prime minister nominated by the president and elected by the National Assembly for five year term

Legislative: Unicameral National Assembly (115 seats in which members are elected by popular vote from the list of candidates selected by the Lao People Revolutionary Party to serve five year term.

Judicial: 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 and the judges are appointed by the National Assembly Standing committee.)

Flag description: three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red on which is centered a large white circle

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$14.61 billion (2009 est.)

Labor Force
2.1 million (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line:
26% (2005 est.)

Exchange rates:
Kips (LAK) per US dollar -8477 (2010), 8,556.56 (2009), 8,760.69 (2008)

Communication and Transportation
Telephone – main lines in use: 97, 600 (2008)
Telephone – mobile cellular: 1.822 million (2008)
Telephone country code: 856

Internet country code: .la

Airports– 41 (2009); 9 of which have paved runways and 32 with unpaved runways

Roadways– 29,811 km
Waterways– 4,600 km