Laos. Like Vietnam and China, the poorer Laos tries to open the economy outwards without changing its one-party system. At the Laotian Revolutionary People’s Party (Pathet Lao) congress in March, party leader Khamtay Siphandone emphasized that state enterprises must become more efficient and bureaucracy shrink. As a target, he set an annual economic growth of about 8%. In December, the State Radio declared the year’s growth to 7.5%, despite the floods that hit agriculture.
82-year-old Nouhak Phoumsavanh left the Politburo, and Agriculture Minister Sisavath Keobounphanh became vice president to relieve Nouhak.
Laos also applied for full membership in the Association of Southeast Asian States, ASEAN. Through ASEAN, Laos hopes to to participate in the expansion of the Mekong border river and in the planned Singapore-Beijing railway line via Vientiane.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: What does LA stand for? In the field of geography, this two letter acronym means Laos. Check this to see its other meanings in English and other 35 languages.
In June 2007, 9 people were arrested in the United States, accused of being involved in planning a coup in Laos. Among those arrested was General Gen Pao, who in the 1970s with the support of the CIA had fought the communist partisans in Laos.
In late December 2009, the New York Times reported that the military dictatorship in Thailand planned to send 4,000 Laotian Hmong refugees back to Laos. The BBC later confirmed that repatriation was underway. The Thai military had already cut off all access to the refugees: foreign observers, MSF doctors and journalists were barred from access, and during repatriation, the Thai military jammed all mobile phone traffic in the area. During the Vietnam War, the United States used thousands of Laotian Hmong men to fight the communist guerrillas in the country. It has created considerable tensions between the government and the Hmongs since the end of the war. At the same time, conservative circles in the United States opposed allowing larger groups of Hmongs to come to the United States as refugees.
Tourism continued to grow. From 80,000 visitors in 1990 to 1.9 million in 2010. Every 11th part of the labor market is already working in the tourism sector, and the proportion is expected to increase. The growth is largely attributed to the country’s beauty and character of more indigenous Asia. This makes it different from neighboring Thailand, where tourism in many areas has deformed the original culture. Like other countries in Southeast Asia, during the first years of the new millennium, Laos’ economy was characterized by high economic growth. Growth rate in 2012 was 8.3%.
In 1997, Laos applied for membership in the WTO. The country was admitted in February 2013.
Choummaly Sayasone was re-elected as President of the National Assembly in June 2011. He had been re-elected as Secretary General of the ruling party for 3 months. The same year, the country ceased building the Xayaburi hydropower plant after both neighboring countries and NGOs objected to the plant’s environmental impact.
In 2012, Laos initiated the construction of the hydroelectric power plant and the Xayaburi dam in northern Laos. The construction was met by protests from environmental organizations, Vietnam and Cambodia as construction is expected to affect the lives of 60 million people in the region. The power plant will cost 3.8 billion. US $ and owned and built by Thai Ch. Karnchang Public Company. It is equipped with well over 1000MW turbines and is expected to be ready in 2019.
In May 2014, Defense Secretary General Douangchay Phichit was killed along with several other senior officers in a plane crash in Xiengkhouang province in the north of the country.
In August, work was suspended on the Xayaburi dam project for a 6-month period to address objections and protests from neighboring countries, environmental organizations and locals.
According to Countryaah.com, the population of Laos in 1996 was 4,846,372, ranking number 108 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.620% yearly, and the population density was 20.9986 people per km2.