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Laos – Important Facts

Laos is a landlocked country located in Southeast Asia bordered by Burma, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested, and the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand. The government system is a Communist state; the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Laos has a mixed economy in which the government has implemented gradual economic and business reforms to liberalize its domestic markets. Laos is a member of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The economy of the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic is rapidly growing, as the government began to decentralise control and encourage private enterprise in 1986. Currently, the economy grows at 8% a year, and the government is pursuing poverty reduction and education for all children as key goals. The country opened a stock exchange, the Lao Securities Exchange in 2011, and has become a rising regional player in its role as a hydroelectric power supplier to neighbors such as China, Vietnam and Thailand.
Laos remains one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. A landlocked country, it has inadequate infrastructure and a largely unskilled work force. The country’s per capita income in 2009 was estimated to be $2,700 on a purchasing power parity-basis.

The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, coupled with the Lao government’s own mismanagement of the economy, resulted in spiraling inflation and a steep depreciation of the kip, which lost 87% of its value from June 1997 to June 1999. Tighter monetary policies brought about greater macroeconomic stability in FY 2000, and monthly inflation, which had averaged about 10% during the first half of FY 1999, dropped to an average 1% over the same period in FY 2000. In FY 1999, foreign grants and loans accounted for more than 20% of GDP and more than 75% of public investment.

Important Details

  • Country ISO3 : LAO
  • Country Code : 418
  • Income Group : Lower Middle Income
  • Lending Category : IDA
  • Region : East Asia and Pacific
  • Currency Unit: Lao Kip
  • WTO Member : Yes
  • Trade organisations : ASEAN, WTO
  • world rank : 155
  • Regional Ranking : 35th in the Asia–Pacific Region