(pronounced "KAM-tie SEE-pan-don")
"We must put a stop to exploitive business practices, such as indiscriminate logging of our forests."
The Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a landlocked nation, which lies between Vietnam and Thailand and also borders Cambodia, China, and Myanmar. With an estimated area of 236,000 sq km (91,120 sq mi), Laos is made up of 89% mountainous terrain and dominated by tropical forests and jungles.
The population of 5.8 million people (2002 estimate) is comprised of three major ethnic groups: 63.4% Lao-Lum (valley lowland Lao), 23.8% Lao Theung (Lao living on mountain slopes), and 10.1% Lao-Sung (mountaintop Lao). Approximately 65% of the Lao people are Buddhist, and 33% are animists. The national language is Lao, while some older government officials still speak French. Other officials may speak English or languages such as Russian, Vietnamese, German, or Czech.
The unit of currency is the kip . The Lao economy ranks among the poorest in the world, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about US $1,630 as of 2001.
Laos also has one of the highest death rates in the world, with poor health conditions in many of the remote areas of the country. The economy is principally agricultural, with 80% of the population engaged in subsistence farming of rice, maize, tobacco, cotton, sugar cane, fruits, and coffee. Lao and U.S. authorities are working closely together to eliminate remnants of opium production and trade. With the opening of the economy in 1986, Lao exports have steadily increased. Major exports include timber, coffee, tin, various minerals, electricity, light manufacturing products, and handicrafts.
Office of the President
Vientiane, Lao PDR