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Country information - Laos
Country name - conventional long form : Lao People's Democratic Republic
Country name - conventional short form : Laos
Country name - local long form : Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
Country name - local short form : none
Government type : Communist state
Capital - name : Vientiane
Capital - time difference : UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
National holiday : Republic Day, 2 December (1975)
Population : 6,677,534 (July 2008 est.)
Nationality - noun : Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
Nationality - adjective : Lao or Laotian
Languages : Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages
Currency (code) : kip (LAK)
Currency code : LAK
Major infectious diseases - degree of risk : very high
Major infectious diseases - note : highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)

Laos is located Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam. The climate is tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April). The terrain is mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus.


This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Background : Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th Century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1986. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997.

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