Laos

POPULATION

6.8 million (2015)

PEOPLE LIVING BELOW THE POVERTY LINE

23.2% of the population (2012)

GDP PER CAPITA (PPP)

USD 1818 (2015)

Life expectancy at birth: 66 years (2014)

Lao People’s Democratic Republic (to give the country its official name) is a landlocked country in South East Asia, bordered by Myanmar, Thailand, China, Cambodia and Vietnam.  The Mekong river runs through the country, and its delta contains most of the country’s fertile land.  The capital is Vientiane.

Laos is a communist country, becoming a one-Party state in 1975.  The current president is Bounnhang Vorachith.

While Laos has had several years of high growth, this has yet to be translated into sustainable and inclusive development for all, and the gap between rich and poor has increased recently.  In addition much of the growth has been the result of extractive industries, which raises challenges for sustained development and care of the environment.

A further challenge to development is the presence of unexploded ordinance from the second Indochina War.

63% of the population still live in rural areas and these areas experience the greatest levels of poverty and the largest threats from unexploded ordinance.

Data sourced from the World Bank and UNDP sites, December 2016