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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.


Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam

Natural Resources

timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones

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

Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages
VIENTIANE (capital) 997,000 (2015)
Conventional long form
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Conventional short form
Local long form
Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
Local short form
Mueang Lao (unofficial)
communist state
Geographic coordinates
17 58 N, 102 36 E
Time difference
UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
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 nearly 8% per year for most of the last decade. However, growth has declined over the past year and is expected to be about 6.8% in 2017, according to the IMF.
External debt stocks
US$ 11,645,383,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -2,264,467,608
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 6,219,578,124
Exports of goods and services
US$ 4,665,564,637
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 1,079,144,682
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 798,163,412
sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc, tapioca), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
mining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism
wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
Thailand 30.4%, China 26.9%, Vietnam 17.5% (2015)
machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Thailand 60.9%, China 18.6%, Vietnam 7.3% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A high-risk political and economic situation and an often very difficult business environment can have a very significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is very high.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is very difficult. Corporate financial information is rarely available and when available usually unreliable. The legal system makes debt collection very unpredictable. The institutional framework has very serious weaknesses. Intercompany transactions can thus be very difficult to manage in the highly risky environments rated D.
  • Abundant natural resources: minerals (copper, gold, bauxite, iron, zinc), oil and agricultural raw materials (maize, rice, sugar cane, rubber, manioc, soya, coffee)
  • Expansion of the hydroelectric sector
  • Foreign investments in the raw materials sector
  • Regional integration (ASEAN) and WTO membership
  • Massive current account deficit
  • Inadequate level of reserves
  • Governance shortcomings and high poverty rates
  • Weak banking sector
  • Significant sovereign risk because of high stock of debt

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