The population of Laos in 2015 was estimated to be around 6.8 million people, making it the 103rd most populous country in the world. The majority of Laos’ population is ethnic Lao, with sizeable minorities of Vietnamese, Chinese and other nationalities also present. The Laotian economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, forestry and mining, with these sectors accounting for roughly one-third of the country’s GDP. Other exports include fish products and electricity. Laos has strong trade ties with its Asian neighbours, particularly Thailand and Vietnam, as well as other countries worldwide. In terms of politics, Laos is a single-party socialist republic with a unicameral legislature. In 2015 Choummaly Sayasone was the President after winning reelection in 2011. In foreign relations, Laos is a member of both the United Nations and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and is actively involved in international affairs such as peacekeeping operations. Relations with its Asian neighbours have been mostly positive but tensions remain between Laos and some countries over border disputes. See ehealthfacts for Laos in the year of 2005.
Laos. According to COUNTRYAAH, Vientiane is the capital of Laos which is located in Southeastern Asia. Laos and China agreed to begin construction of a high-speed rail line between the countries. The 420-mile stretch will be completed by 2020 at a cost of $ 6.3 billion. The line is later thought to be extended to other countries in Southeast Asia.
- Also see AbbreviationFinder.org for Laos country abbreviations, including geography, history, economy and politics.
Laos prepared for the 2016 presidency of the ASEAN regional cooperation body. Barack Obama is then expected to be the first US president to visit Laos.
The Laotian government showed no signs of postponing disputed dam projects on the Mekong River as environmental groups and even criticized neighboring countries Vietnam and Cambodia. Nor was any progress achieved in clarifying what happened to agricultural expert Sombath Somphone, one of the critics of the projects, which disappeared in December 2012.
In the 14th century, the feudal Burmese nobleman, Sam Sen Tal, assembled the northeastern part of what is today Thailand with most of what is today Laos, thus forming the thriving kingdom of Lang Xang – the Land of a million Elephants. Towards the end of the 18th century, the kingdom was divided into three: Champassac, Vientiane and Luang Prabang. By the early 19th century, Thailand had brought all three countries under its control. In 1827, Vientiane Prince Tiao Anuvong was at the forefront of a nationalist rebellion that was bloodied. When the French arrived in 1893, they made the kingdom of Luang Prabang a protectorate, and at the same time the rest of the country was made into the colony of Indochina.
1945 First independence
The entire region was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Following the Japanese capitulation, an independence movement was instigated in Vientiane by the Petsarath princes, Suvana Fuma (leader of the National Progressive Party) and their step brother Tiao Sufanuvong (who led Neo Lao Issara, Laos National United Front). In September 1945, they formed a provisional government and proclaimed the country’s independence – across Sisavang Vong who had been king since 1904.
In the spring of 1946, France again occupied the country, and the Provisional Pathet Lao government decided to seek refuge in Bangkok, from which it led the opposition to the troops of the colonial power. This movement took the name Lao Issara (Free Laos).
On 19 July 1949, an agreement was concluded between France and Laos granting the country independence “within the framework of the French Union”. The leaders of Lao Issara – notably the Petsarath and Sufanuvong princes – felt that the agreement provided only a superficial independence, while Suvana Fuma accepted the terms. The opposition coalition therefore threw itself into active opposition to the French. Its military triumphs secured the far better conditions when a new independence agreement was signed in 1953.
The contradictions between Katay Sasorith and the Suvana Fuma government and Pathet Lao were resolved in November 1957. It was agreed that Pathet Lao should enter the country’s political life under the name of Neo Lao Haksat (Laos Patriotic Front) under the leadership of the “Red Prince” Tiao Sufanuvong.
The May 1958 election was won by the Left. Suvana Fuma’s ruling party therefore joined with the Independent Party in the so-called “Association of Laos People” and together they obtained a fragile parliamentary majority.
Also, the supplementary elections together years were won by the left, and a center-left government formed by the «neutral» Suvana Fuma and with Sufanuvong as planning minister.
1958 The United States intervenes. Dictatorship
The sharp reaction of the United States and its threat of suspending financial assistance to the country undermined the government which fell in August and was replaced by the Committee in defense of national interests. With support from the United States and Thailand, the new government cracked down on Pathet Lao, forcing the movement and Sufanuvong out into the forests of the northern part of the country and back to the armed struggle.
In late 1959, the military directly assumed power. At that time, Pathet Lao was already controlling the provinces of the north and the central parts of the country.
After a successful military offensive, General Fumi Nosavang’s troops captured Vientiane on December 13, 1960, sending Pathet Lao’s forces on the run, which had been holding the capital for several days. Violent bombings that cost about 1,500 killed preceded this conquest.
The “Anti-Communist Revolutionary Committee” led by Fumi Nosavang and Prince Bun Um now received support from Thailand and the United States and considered themselves the legitimate government of the country. In return, on December 20, 1960, Prince Suvana Fuma and Sufanuvong signed a declaration in favor of forming a national unity government.
The “neutrals” were now approaching Pathet Lao. By the end of 1960, half of the country was under the control of the Pathet Lao guerrillas, and a similar portion was under the control of the “neutral” forces.
At the initiative of the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, negotiations were held in Geneva in 1961 for a peaceful settlement of the conflict – similar to the Vientiane agreement of 1957. In June, the 3 princes Bun Um, Suvana Fuma and Sufanuvong issued a joint communication, who signed a definitive agreement on the formation of a national unity government.
The US invasion of Vietnam led to the internationalization of the war and the superpower launched bombing of Laos. In 1970, 500 bombings were carried out daily against the country. Over the course of 9 years, the United States threw more bombs on Laos than had been thrown in Europe during World War II.
After a decisive military offensive, in 1973 Pathet Lao succeeded in forcing a ceasefire. A government was formed with Suvana Fuma at the head of representatives of the government of Vientiane and Pathet Lao. The United States’ final defeat in Vietnam in 1975 (see the Vietnam War) deprived the Laotian right wing of its sole ally.