Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam

Area total 236,800 sq. km (land 230,800 sq km; water 6,000 sq km)

Land boundaries Burma 238 km, Cambodia 555 km, China 475 km, Thailand 1845 km, Vietnam 2161 km

Coastline 0 km (landlocked)

Capital City: Vientiane (Viangchan)

etymology: the meaning in Pali, a Buddhist liturgical language, is "city of sandalwood"

Climate: tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)

Terrain: landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand

Elevation: highest point Phu Bia 2,817 m; lowest point Mekong River 70 m


Population:  7,574,356 (July 2021 est.)

Nationality: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)

Languages: Burmese (official)
note: minority ethnic groups use their own languages

Ethnic Groups: Lao 53.2%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 9.2%, Phouthay 3.4%, Tai 3.1%, Makong 2.5%, Katong 2.2%, Lue 2%, Akha 1.8%, other 11.6% (2015 est.). The Laos Government officially recognizes 49 ethnic groups, but the total number of ethnic groups is estimated to be well over 200

Religions: Buddhist 64.7%, Christian 1.7%, none 31.4%, other/not stated 2.1% (2015 est.)


0-24 years:  52%
25-54 years: 38%
55+ years: 10%

Median age:  24 years

Urbanization - 37% of total population (2021)

Most densely populated area is in and around the capital city of Vientiane; large communities are primarily found along the Mekong River along the southwestern border; overall density is considered one of the lowest in Southeast Asia



conventional long form: Lao People's Democratic Republic
conventional short form: Laos
local long form: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
local short form: Mueang Lao (unofficial)

etymology: name means "Land of the Lao [people]"

Independence: 19 July 1949 (from France by the Franco-Lao General Convention); 22 October 1953 (Franco-Lao Treaty recognizes full independence)

National holiday: Republic Day (National Day), 2 December (1975)

Government Type: Communist

Administrative Divisions

17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural) and 1 prefecture* (kampheng nakhon); Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan (Vientiane)*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun, Xekong, Xiangkhouang

Flag Description

three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band; the red bands recall the blood shed for liberation; the blue band represents the Mekong River and prosperity; the white disk symbolizes the full moon against the Mekong River, but also signifies the unity of the people under the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, as well as the country's bright future

National anthem

name: "Pheng Xat Lao" (Hymn of the Lao People)
lyrics/music: SISANA Sisane/THONGDY Sounthonevichit

note: music adopted 1945, lyrics adopted 1975; the anthem's lyrics were changed following the 1975 Communist revolution that overthrew the monarchy

National symbol(s): elephant; national colors: red, white, blue


mining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism

Exchange rate:  1 USD = 9,583 Laotian Kip (LAK), 2021 est


International: country code - 856

Internet country code - .la

Mobile cellular subscriptions: 4,362,183 (59 per 100 inhabitants, 2019 est.)
Internet users total: 1,845,437 (26% of population, 2018 est.)

SOURCE: CIA World Factbook