General Information
ISO Code: LA
Dialing Code: +856
Continent: Asia

Lao People’s Democratic Republic, or Laos in its short form is a communist state which is bordered by Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar (Burma) and forms part of the Southern Asia region. The capital is Vientiane.

The official language is Lao and dialects of Lao, however French and English is also spoken. The local currency is the Kip broken into 100 cents.

Laos is a poor, landlocked country that became a communist state in 1975. The country struggled until 1986 when the government announced its “new economic mechanism” (NEM). The NEM was to introduce a range of reforms designed to create conditions conducive to private sector activity. Because of this, growth averaged at a rate of 7% for 1986-1996, but because of its reliance on Thailand, and Thailand’s financial crisis the Government’s ability to manage the economy was challenged, and inflation increased dramatically.

Laos has an inadequate infrastructure, and a largely unskilled workforce. Agriculture, mostly subsistence rice farming, dominates the economy. Most of the population is settled along the fertile rivers. Laos currently relies heavily on aid from the IMF and other international sources.

The transport system in Laos is limited. There is no railway and the roads are mainly around the capital of Vientiane. The river Mekong that runs the length of Laos is a major transportation network, along with other rivers around the country. Vientiane has an international airport that services the Southern Asian area.

The international time zone is GMT +7. The international dialing code is +856. The communications network is underdeveloped, and the government relies on a radiotelephone network to communicate with remote areas.

The state of health, the current immunisation status, location and the local disease situation lead to risk of contraction of malaria, rabies, polio and typhoid.

Medical services are limited and it is recommended that medical advice is sought before travelling to Laos.

Shaun Bakamoso

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