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The Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Updated: 2018-07-30

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Area: 236,800 square kilometers

Population: 6.8 million (date to 2017).

Capital: Vientiane 

Administrative divisions:

The country is divided into 17 provinces and one prefecture, including the capital city of Vientiane. 


It is a landlocked country in the northern part of the Indochina Peninsula, bordering China to the north, Cambodia to the south, Vietnam to the east, Myanmar to the northwest, and Thailand to the southwest. The length of the main stream of Mekong River in Laos is 777.4 kilometers, flowing through the capital of Vientiane. 


The Laos' economy relies heavily on agriculture. From 2016 to 2017, its economy grew by 6.83 percent, with a GDP of about $16.81 billion and a per capita income of $2,472. 


Laos boasts mineral deposits including tin, lead, potassium salt, copper, iron, gold, gypsum, coal, and rare earth. In 2012, the forest area was 17 million hectares, with the national forest coverage of about 50 percent. 


The main industrial enterprises cover fields including power generation, wood-sawing, mining, iron making, cement, clothing, food, beer, pharmaceutical, and small repair and weaving, bamboo and wood processing. 


Main crops include rice, corn, potato, coffee, tobacco, peanuts, and cotton. The arable land is about 8 million hectares in area, of which the agricultural land is about 4.7 million hectares. 


Luang Prabang and Wat Phu are both included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list. Other main attractions for tourists include Pha That Luang, Khone Phapheng Falls, and Kuang Si Waterfall. In recent years, Laos has signed cooperation agreements with more than 500 foreign travel companies and opened 15 international tourist ports, as well as increased investment in tourism infrastructure and decreased visa fees, which has helped promote its tourism development. 

In May 2013, the European Council on Trade and Tourism awarded the country the "World Best Tourist Destination" designation. 

Foreign trade:

Laos has established trade relations with more than 50 countries and regions, and has signed trade agreements with 19 countries. Thirty-five countries include China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, Switzerland, and Canada has provided preferential tariff treatment to Laos.

Laos' main foreign trade countries are Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, the European Union, the United States, Canada and other ASEAN countries. In 2017, the import and export trade volume of Laos was US$9.35 billion, a year-on-year increase of 10.5 percent, of which exports were $4.8 billion and imports were $4.5 billion. In October 2012, Laos joined the World Trade Organization.