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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.


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Economy

Economy - 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 from 1988-2008 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis that began in 1997. Lao's growth exceeded 7% per year during 2008-11. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. It has a rudimentary, but improving, road system, and limited external and internal land-line telecommunications. Electricity is available in urban areas and in many rural districts. Subsistence agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 30% of GDP and 75% of total employment. Economic growth has reduced official poverty rates from 46% in 1992 to 26% in 2010. The economy has benefited from high foreign investment in hydropower, mining, and construction. Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US in 2004, and is taking steps required to join the World Trade Organization, such as reforming import licensing. Related trade policy reforms will improve the business environment. On the fiscal side, Laos initiated a VAT tax system in 2010. Simplified investment procedures and expanded bank credits for small farmers and small entrepreneurs will improve Lao''s economic prospects. The government appears committed to raising the country''s profile among investors, opening the country''s first stock exchange in 2011. The World Bank has declared that Laos''s goal of graduating from the UN Development Program''s list of least-developed countries by 2020 is achievable. According Laotian officials, the 7th Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2011-15 will outline efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals.

Gdp (purchasing power parity) World Ranking: 135
$17.66 billion (2011 est.)
$16.31 billion (2010 est.)
$15.11 billion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$7.891 billion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 16
8.3% (2011 est.)
7.9% (2010 est.)
7.6% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 175
$2,700 (2011 est.)
$2,500 (2010 est.)
$2,400 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 27.8%
Industry 34.8%
Services 37.4% (2011 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 94
3.69 million (2010 est.)

Labor force - by occupation
Agriculture 75.1%
Industry and services NA (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 21
2.5% (2009 est.)
2.4% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line
26% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10% 3.3%
Highest 10% 30.3% (2008)

Distribution of family income - gini index World Ranking: 80
36.7 (2008)
34.6 (2002)

Budget
Revenues $1.76 billion
Expenditures $1.957 billion (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 143
22.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 88
-2.5% of GDP (2011 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 162
7.6% (2011 est.)
6% (2010 est.)

Central bank discount rate World Ranking: 91
4.3% (31 December 2010)
4% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 14
22% (31 December 2011 est.)
22.613% (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 147
$995.9 million (31 December 2011 est.)
$787.9 million (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 137
$3.25 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$2.643 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 132
$2.547 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.95 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Agriculture - products
Sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry

Industries
Mining (copper, tin, gold, and gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism

Industrial production growth rate World Ranking: 4
17.7% (2010 est.)

Electricity - production World Ranking: 139
1.553 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 134
2.23 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports
341 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - imports
999 million kWh (2010 est.)

Oil - production World Ranking: 187
0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 178
3,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 169
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 177
1,918 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - proved reserves World Ranking: 150
0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 201
0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 195
0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 129
0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 84
0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 194
0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 55
$96 million (2011 est.)
$29.3 million (2010 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 141
$2.131 billion (2011 est.)
$1.746 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities
Wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold

Exports - partners
Thailand 34.8%, China 24.6%, Vietnam 10% (2011)

Imports World Ranking: 153
$2.336 billion (2011 est.)
$2.06 billion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities
Machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods

Imports - partners
Thailand 65.9%, China 11.3%, Vietnam 5.3% (2011)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold World Ranking: 139
$773.5 million (31 December 2011 est.)
$713.4 million (31 December 2010 est.)

Debt - external World Ranking: 108
$5.953 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$5.564 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Exchange rates
Kips (LAK) per US dollar -
8,043.7 (2011 est.)
8,258.8 (2010 est.)
8,516.04 (2009)
8,760.69 (2008)
9,658 (2007)

Fiscal year
1 October - 30 September


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  Laos (Vientiane):


  GPS points from Laos (Vientiane)

Vat Ruck Noi Khoueng Savannakhet

Ban Namthoung Khoueng Louangnamtha

Ban Houaydou Khoueng Xaignabouli

Ban Houaypaloy Khoueng Savannakhet

Ban Pakmon Khoueng Louangphabang

Ban Houayhok Khoueng Louangnamtha

Ban Houei Heung Khoueng Louangphabang

Ban Phonthan Khoueng Savannakhet




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