Independence Year : 1953
Population : 5433000
Life Expectancy : 53.1
Capital : 2432
GNP : 1292.00
GNP Old : 1746.00
Local Name : Lao
Government Form : Republic
Location : in center of Southeast Asian peninsula, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Terrain : The country has three distinct regions: rugged mountains in north, plateaus, alluvial plains.
Climate : Tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (November to April).
Ethnic Group : Lao Loum (lowland): 68%; Lao Theung (upland): 22%; Lao Soung (highland) 9%, including the Hmong and the Yao; and ethnic Vietnamese and Chinese: 1%.
Religions : Theravada Buddhism, animism among highland groups.
Official Website : www.na.gov.la
Genral Information - Laos
Laos is the least developed asian landlocked country, surrounded by China in the north, Burma (Myanmar) to the north-west, Thailand in the south-west, Cambodia (Kampuchia) in the south-east, and Vietnam to the east.
Most Laotians are subsistence farmers, and rice is the principal crop. Forestry is economically important, but mining and manufacturing are limited. Barter is the prevalent method of exchange in rural commerce. The unit of currency in Laos is the new kip (921.13 new kips equal U.S.$1; 1996).
After 600 years of being a monachy, at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Laos has been ruled by a one-party Communist Government. Although Laos is opening its door to the West, under the 1991 constitution, Laos continues to be a one-party centralised system as specified in the constitution in Article 3: "The rights of the multi-ethnic people to be the masters of the country are exercised and ensured through the functioning of the political system with the Lao People's Revolutionary Party as its leading nucleus".
For the day to day running of the country, the executive governmental power is held by a president, who is chosen by an elected National Assembly, in accordance with article 3 above, to serve a five-year term.