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Careers, Jobs and Education Resources for: Laos

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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 return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1986. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997. (from the CIA)


Economic Overview

The government of laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. the results, starting from an extremely low base, were striking - growth averaged 6% per year in 1988-2007 except during the short-lived drop caused by the asian financial crisis beginning in 1997. despite this high growth rate, laos remains a country with a underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. it has no railroads, a rudimentary road system, and limited external and internal telecommunications, though the government is sponsoring major improvements in the road system with support from japan and china. electricity is available in urban areas and in most rural districts. subsistence agriculture, dominated by rice, accounts for about 40% of gdp and provides 80% of total employment. the economy will continue to benefit from aid from international donors and from foreign investment in hydropower and mining. construction will be another strong economic driver, especially as hydroelectric dam and road projects gain steam. several policy changes since 2004 may help spur growth. in late 2004, laos gained normal trade relations status with the us, allowing laos-based producers to benefit from lower tariffs on exports. laos is taking steps to join the world trade organization in the next few years; the resulting trade policy reforms will improve the business environment. on the fiscal side, a value-added tax (vat) regime, slated to begin in 2008, should help streamline the government's inefficient tax system.

Environmental Issues

Unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water

Government Type

Communist state


6,677,534 (july 2008 est.)


Southeastern asia, northeast of thailand, west of vietnam


Total: 236,800 sq km land: 230,800 sq km water: 6,000 sq km

Slightly larger than utah

Country Aliases

Conventional long form: lao people's democratic republic conventional short form: laos local long form: sathalanalat paxathipatai paxaxon lao local short form: none


Name: vientiane geographic coordinates: 17 58 n, 102 36 e time difference: utc+7 (12 hours ahead of washington, dc during standard time)

Military Service

15 years of age for compulsory military service; minimum 18-month conscript service obligation (2006)

International Disputes

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; concern among mekong commission members that china's construction of dams on the mekong river will affect water levels

Sources: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

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