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Thailand vs. Laos

Introduction

ThailandLaos
BackgroundA unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonized by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US treaty ally in 1954 after sending troops to Korea and later fighting alongside the US in Vietnam. Thailand since 2005 has experienced several rounds of political turmoil including a military coup in 2006 that ousted then Prime Minister THAKSIN Chinnawat, followed by large-scale street protests by competing political factions in 2008, 2009, and 2010. THAKSIN's youngest sister, YINGLAK Chinnawat, in 2011 led the Puea Thai Party to an electoral win and assumed control of the government. A blanket amnesty bill for individuals involved in street protests, altered at the last minute to include all political crimes - including all convictions against THAKSIN - triggered months of large-scale anti-government protests in Bangkok beginning in November 2013.
In early May 2014, YINGLAK was removed from office by the Constitutional Court and in late May 2014 the Royal Thai Army, led by Royal Thai Army Gen. PRAYUT Chan-ocha, staged a coup against the caretaker government. PRAYUT was appointed prime minister in August 2014. The interim military government created several interim institutions to promote reform and draft a new constitution, which was passed in a national referendum in August 2016. Elections are tentatively set for mid-2018. King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet passed away in October 2016 after 70 years on the throne; his only son, WACHIRALONGKON Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun, ascended the throne in December 2016. He signed the new constitution in April 2017. Thailand has also experienced violence associated with the ethno-nationalist insurgency in its southern Malay-Muslim majority provinces. Since January 2004, thousands have been killed and wounded in the insurgency.
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, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997 and the WTO in 2013.

Geography

ThailandLaos
LocationSoutheastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma
Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates15 00 N, 100 00 E
18 00 N, 105 00 E
Map referencesSoutheast Asia
Southeast Asia
Areatotal: 513,120 sq km
land: 510,890 sq km
water: 2,230 sq km
total: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
Area - comparativeabout three times the size of Florida; slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming
about twice the size of Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Utah
Land boundariestotal: 5,673 km
border countries (4): Burma 2,416 km, Cambodia 817 km, Laos 1,845 km, Malaysia 595 km
total: 5,274 km
border countries (5): Burma 238 km, Cambodia 555 km, China 475 km, Thailand 1,845 km, Vietnam 2,161 km
Coastline3,219 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
none (landlocked)
Climatetropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid
tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
Terraincentral plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere
mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Elevation extremesmean elevation: 287 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,576 m
mean elevation: 710 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Mekong River 70 m
highest point: Phu Bia 2,817 m
Natural resourcestin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land
timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Land useagricultural land: 41.2%
arable land 30.8%; permanent crops 8.8%; permanent pasture 1.6%
forest: 37.2%
other: 21.6% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 10.6%
arable land 6.2%; permanent crops 0.7%; permanent pasture 3.7%
forest: 67.9%
other: 21.5% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land64,150 sq km (2012)
3,100 sq km (2012)
Natural hazardsland subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts
floods, droughts
Environment - current issuesair pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting
unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notecontrols only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore
landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
Population distributionhighest population density is found in and around Bangkok; significant population clusters found througout large parts of the country, particularly east / northeast of Bankok and in the extreme southern region of the country
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

Demographics

ThailandLaos
Population68,200,824
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2016 est.)
7,019,073 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 17.18% (male 6,000,434/female 5,714,464)
15-24 years: 14.47% (male 5,030,930/female 4,839,931)
25-54 years: 46.5% (male 15,678,250/female 16,038,155)
55-64 years: 11.64% (male 3,728,028/female 4,208,624)
65 years and over: 10.21% (male 3,047,938/female 3,914,070) (2016 est.)
0-14 years: 33.4% (male 1,184,344/female 1,159,731)
15-24 years: 21.29% (male 742,073/female 751,983)
25-54 years: 36.1% (male 1,250,108/female 1,283,834)
55-64 years: 5.36% (male 184,183/female 192,298)
65 years and over: 3.85% (male 122,485/female 148,034) (2016 est.)
Median agetotal: 37.2 years
male: 36.2 years
female: 38.2 years (2016 est.)
total: 22.7 years
male: 22.4 years
female: 23 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate0.32% (2016 est.)
1.53% (2016 est.)
Birth rate11.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
23.9 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate7.9 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
7.5 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
-1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 9.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
total: 51.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 56.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 45.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 74.7 years
male: 71.5 years
female: 78 years (2016 est.)
total population: 64.3 years
male: 62.2 years
female: 66.4 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.51 children born/woman (2016 est.)
2.76 children born/woman (2016 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate1.12% (2015 est.)
0.26% (2014 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Thai (singular and plural)
adjective: Thai
noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
adjective: Lao or Laotian
Ethnic groupsThai 97.5%, Burmese 1.3%, other 1.1%, unspecified <.1% (2015 est.)
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%
note: the Laos Government officially recognizes 49 ethnic groups, but the total number of ethnic groups is estimated to be well over 200 (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS438,100 (2015 est.)
11,100 (2014 est.)
ReligionsBuddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.3%, Christian 1%, other <.1%, none <.1% (2015 est.)
Buddhist 64.7%, Christian 1.7%, none 31.4%, other/not stated 2.1% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths14,200 (2015 est.)
500 (2014 est.)
LanguagesThai (official) 90.7%, Burmese 1.3%, other 8%
note: English is a secondary language of the elite (2010 est.)
Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.7%
male: 96.6%
female: 96.7% (2015 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.9%
male: 87.1%
female: 72.8% (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria (2016)
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria (2016)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 16 years (2015)
total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2015)
Education expenditures4.1% of GDP (2013)
3.3% of GDP (2014)
Urbanizationurban population: 50.4% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.97% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
urban population: 38.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 4.93% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 97.6% of population
rural: 98% of population
total: 97.8% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2.4% of population
rural: 2% of population
total: 2.2% of population (2015 est.)
improved:
urban: 85.6% of population
rural: 69.4% of population
total: 75.7% of population
unimproved:
urban: 14.4% of population
rural: 30.6% of population
total: 24.3% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 89.9% of population
rural: 96.1% of population
total: 93% of population
unimproved:
urban: 10.1% of population
rural: 3.9% of population
total: 7% of population (2015 est.)
improved:
urban: 94.5% of population
rural: 56% of population
total: 70.9% of population
unimproved:
urban: 5.5% of population
rural: 44% of population
total: 29.1% of population (2015 est.)
Major cities - populationBANGKOK (capital) 9.27 million; Samut Prakan 1.814 million (2015)
VIENTIANE (capital) 997,000 (2015)
Maternal mortality rate20 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
197 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight9.2% (2012)
26.5% (2012)
Health expenditures6.5% of GDP (2014)
1.9% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density0.39 physicians/1,000 population (2010)
0.18 physicians/1,000 population (2012)
Hospital bed density2.1 beds/1,000 population (2010)
1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate9.2% (2014)
3% (2014)
Child labor - children ages 5-14total number: 818,399
percentage: 8% (2006 est.)
total number: 175,138
percentage: 11% (2006 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate79.3% (2012)
49.8% (2011/12)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 39.2
youth dependency ratio: 24.7
elderly dependency ratio: 14.6
potential support ratio: 6.9 (2015 est.)
total dependency ratio: 62.8
youth dependency ratio: 56.6
elderly dependency ratio: 6.2
potential support ratio: 16.1 (2015 est.)

Government

ThailandLaos
Country name"conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
conventional short form: Thailand
local long form: Ratcha Anachak Thai
local short form: Prathet Thai
former: Siam
etymology: ""Land of the Tai [People]""; the meaning of ""tai"" is uncertain, but may originally have meant ""human beings,"" ""people,"" or ""free people""
"
"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]""
"
Government typeconstitutional monarchy; note - interim military-affiliated government since May 2014
communist state
Capitalname: Bangkok
geographic coordinates: 13 45 N, 100 31 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
name: Vientiane (Viangchan)
geographic coordinates: 17 58 N, 102 36 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions76 provinces (changwat, singular and plural) and 1 municipality* (maha nakhon); Amnat Charoen, Ang Thong, Bueng Kan, Buri Ram, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chaiyaphum, Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Chumphon, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Krung Thep* (Bangkok), Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Lop Buri, Mae Hong Son, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Narathiwat, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Pattani, Phangnga, Phatthalung, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phetchaburi, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phrae, Phuket, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ranong, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Roi Et, Sa Kaeo, Sakon Nakhon, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Sara Buri, Satun, Sing Buri, Si Sa Ket, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Surat Thani, Surin, Tak, Trang, Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit, Yala, Yasothon
17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural) and 1 capital city* (nakhon luang, singular and plural); Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan (Vientiane)*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun, Xekong, Xiangkhouang
Independence1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)
19 July 1949 (from France)
National holidayBirthday of King Maha VAJIRALONGKORN, 28 July (1952)
Republic Day (National Day), 2 December (1975)
Constitutionmany previous; draft of latest completed 29 March 2016, approved by referendum 7 August 2016, signed by the king 6 April 2017; note - the final version has several changes not reflected in the one passed by referendum (2016)
previous 1947 (preindependence); latest promulgated 13-15 August 1991; amended 2003, 2015 (2016)
Legal systemcivil law system with common law influences
civil law system similar in form to the French system
Suffrage18 years of age; universal and compulsory
18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: King WACHIRALONGKON Bodinthrathepphayawarangkun (since 1 December 2016); note - King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet, also spelled BHUMIBOL Adulyadej (since 9 June 1946) died 13 October 2016
head of government: Interim Prime Minister Gen. PRAYUT Chan-ocha (since 25 August 2014); Deputy Prime Ministers PRAWIT Wongsuwan, Gen. (since 31 August 2014), THANASAK Patimaprakon, Gen. (since 31 August 2014), WISSANU Kruea-ngam (since 31 August 2014), SOMKHIT Chatusiphithak (since 20 August 2015), PRACHIN Chantong, Air Chief Mar. (since 20 August 2015), NARONG Phiphatthanasai, Adm. (since 20 August 2015)
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister, appointed by the king; a Privy Council advises the king
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; the House of Representatives approves a person for Prime Minister who must then by appointed by the King (as stated in the transitory provision of the 2017 constitution); the office of prime minister can be held for up to a total of 8 years
note: Prime Minister YINGLAK Chinnawat, also spelled YINGLUCK Shinawatra, was removed from office on 7 May 2014 after the Constitutional Court ruled she illegally transferred a government official; Thai army declared martial law on 20 May 2014 followed by a coup on 22 May 2014
chief of state: President BOUNNYANG Vorachit (since 20 April 2016); Vice President PHANKHAM Viphavan (since 20 April 2016)
head of government: Prime Minister THONGLOUN Sisoulit (since 20 April 2016); Deputy Prime Ministers BOUNTHONG Chitmani, SONXAI Siphandon, SOMDI Douangdi (since 20 April 2016)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the National Assembly
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 20 April 2016 (next to be held in 2021); prime minister nominated by the president, elected by the National Assembly for 5-year term
election results: BOUNNYANG Vorachit (LPRP) elected president; PHANKHAM Viphavan (LPRP) elected vice president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA; THONGLOUN Sisoulit (LPRP) elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - NA
Legislative branchdescription: in transition; following the May 2014 military coup, a National Legislative Assembly or Sapha Nitibanyat Haeng Chat of no more than 220 members replaced the bicameral National Assembly; expanded to 250 members in September 2016; elections for a permanent legislative body are currently unscheduled and probably will not occur until mid-2017; the 2017 constitution calls for a 250-member military-appointed Senate with 5-year terms and a 500-member elected House of Representatives with 4-year terms
elections: Senate - last held on 30 March 2014; House of Representatives - last held on 2 February 2014, but later declared invalid by the Constitutional Court
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA
description: unicameral National Assembly or Sapha Heng Xat (132 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote from candidate lists provided by the Lao People's Revolutionary Party; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 20 April 2016 (next to be held in 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPRP 128, independent 4
Judicial branchhighest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice (consists of court president, 6 vice-presidents, and 60-70 judges, and organized into 10 divisions); Constitutional Court (consists of court president and 8 judges); Supreme Administrative Court (number of judges determined by Judicial Commission of the Administrative Courts)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges selected by the Judicial Commission of the Courts of Justice and approved by the monarch; judge term determined by the monarch; Constitutional Court justices - 3 judges drawn from the Supreme Court, 2 judges drawn from the Administrative Court, and 4 judge candidates selected by the Selective Committee for Judges of the Constitutional Court and confirmed by the Senate; judges appointed by the monarch to serve single 9-year terms; Supreme Administrative Court judges selected by the Judicial Commission of the Administrative Courts and appointed by the monarch; judges appointed for life
subordinate courts: courts of first instance and appeals courts within both the judicial and administrative systems; military courts
highest court(s): People's Supreme Court (consists of the court president and organized into criminal, civil, administrative, commercial, family, and juvenile chambers, each with a vice president and several judges)
judge selection and term of office: president of People's Supreme Court appointed by National Assembly on recommendation of the president of the republic for a 5-year term; vice presidents of People's Supreme Court appointed by the president of the republic on recommendation of the National Assembly; appointment of chamber judges NA; tenure of court vice-presidents and chamber judges NA
subordinate courts: appellate courts; provincial, municipal, district, and military courts
Political parties and leadersChat Patthana Party or CPN (National Development Party) [WANNARAT Channukun]
Chat Thai Phatthana Party or CTP (Thai Nation Development Party) [THEERA Wongsamut]
Mahachon Party or Mass Party [APHIRAT Sirinawin]
Matuphum Party (Motherland Party) [Gen. SONTHI Bunyaratkalin]
Phalang Chon Party (People Chonburi Power Party) [SONTHAYA Khunpluem]
Phumchai (Bhumjai) Thai Party or PJT (Thai Pride) [ANUTHIN Chanwirakun]
Prachathipat Party or DP (Democrat Party) [ABHISIT Wechachiwa, also spelled ABHISIT Vejjajiva]
Prachathipatai Mai Party (New Democracy Party) [SURATIN Phichan]
Puea Thai Party (For Thais Party) or PTP [acting leader VIROT Paoin]
Rak Prathet Thai Party (Love Thailand Party) [acting leader Surapong WETCHAKORN]
Rak Santi Party (Peace Conservation Party) [Pol. Lt. Gen. THAWIN Surachetphong]
Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [BOUNNYANG Vorachit]
note: other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leadersMulticolor Group
People's Democratic Reform Committee or PDRC
Student and People Network for Thailand's Reform or STR
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship or UDD
NA
International organization participationADB, APEC, ARF, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, BIS, CD, CICA, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, PIF (partner), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMOGIP, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
ADB, ARF, ASEAN, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO (subscriber), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador PHISAN Manawaphat (since 23 February 2015)
chancery: 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 944-3600
FAX: [1] (202) 944-3611
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
chief of mission: Ambassador MAI Xaignavong (since 3 August 2015)
chancery: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-6416
FAX: [1] (202) 332-4923
consulate(s): New York
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador Glyn T. DAVIES (since 27 November 2015)
embassy: 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330
mailing address: APO AP 96546
telephone: [66] (2) 205-4000
FAX: [66] (2) 254-2990, 205-4131
consulate(s) general: Chiang Mai
chief of mission: Ambassador Rena BITTER (since 2 November 2016)
embassy: Thadeua Road, Kilometer 9, Ban Somvang Tai, Hatsayfong District, Vientiane
mailing address: American Embassy Vientiane, Unit 46222, APO AP 96546-6222
telephone: [856] 21-48-7000
FAX: [856] 21-48-7190
Flag descriptionfive horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red; the red color symbolizes the nation and the blood of life; white represents religion and the purity of Buddhism; blue stands for the monarchy
note: similar to the flag of Costa Rica but with the blue and red colors reversed
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: ""Phleng Chat Thai"" (National Anthem of Thailand)
lyrics/music: Luang SARANUPRAPAN/Phra JENDURIYANG
note: music adopted 1932, lyrics adopted 1939; by law, people are required to stand for the national anthem at 0800 and 1800 every day; the anthem is played in schools, offices, theaters, and on television and radio during this time; ""Phleng Sanlasoen Phra Barami"" (A Salute to the Monarch) serves as the royal anthem and is played in the presence of the royal family and during certain state ceremonies
"
"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
"
International law organization participationhas not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
National symbol(s)garuda (mythical half-man, half-bird figure), elephant; national colors: red, white, blue
elephant; national colors: red, white, blue
Citizenshipcitizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Thailand
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Laos
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Economy

ThailandLaos
Economy - overviewWith a relatively well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand is highly dependent on international trade, with exports accounting for about two-thirds of GDP. Thailand’s exports include electronics, agricultural commodities, automobiles and parts, and processed foods. The industry and service sectors produce about 90% of GDP. The agricultural sector, comprised mostly of small-scale farmers, contributes only 10% of GDP but employs about one-third of the labor force. Thailand has attracted an estimated 3.0-4.5 million migrant workers, mostly from neighboring countries.

Over the last few decades, Thailand has had strong growth and has reduced poverty substantially. In 2013, the Thai Government implemented a nationwide 300 baht (roughly $10) per day minimum wage policy and deployed new tax reforms designed to lower rates on middle-income earners.

Growth has slowed in the last few years, however, due to domestic political turmoil and sluggish global demand. Nevertheless, Thailand’s economic fundamentals are sound, with low inflation, low unemployment, and reasonable public and external debt levels. Tourism and government spending - mostly on infrastructure and short-term stimulus measures – have helped to boost the economy, and The Bank of Thailand has been supportive, with several interest rate reductions.

Over the longer-term, Thailand faces labor shortages, and domestic debt levels, political uncertainty, and an aging population pose risks to growth.
The government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. Economic growth averaged more than 6% per year from 1988-2008, and Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia, averaging nearly 8% per year for most of the last decade, but has declined over the past year and is expected to be around 6.8% in 2017, according to the IMF.

Nevertheless, Laos remains a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. It has a basic, but improving, road system, and limited external and internal land-line telecommunications. Electricity is available to 83% of the population. Agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 25% of GDP and 73% of total employment. Recently, the country has faced a persistent current account deficit, falling foreign currency reserves, and growing public debt, as slow recovery of the global economy, especially that of China, has driven down the prices of its mineral exports.

Laos' economy is heavily dependent on capital-intensive natural resource exports. The economy has benefited from high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower dams along the Mekong River, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction, although some projects in these industries have drawn criticism for their environmental impacts.

Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US in 2004 and applied for Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits in 2013 after being admitted to the World Trade Organization earlier in the year. Laos held the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2016. Laos is in the process of implementing a value-added tax system. The government appears committed to raising the country's profile among foreign investors and has developed special economic zones replete with generous tax incentives, but a limited labor pool, a small domestic market, and corruption remain impediments to investment. Laos also has ongoing problems with the business environment, including onerous registration requirements, a gap between legislation and implementation, and unclear or conflicting regulations.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$1.161 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.125 trillion (2015 est.)
$1.093 trillion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$40.96 billion (2016 est.)
$38.11 billion (2015 est.)
$35.43 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - real growth rate3.2% (2016 est.)
2.9% (2015 est.)
0.9% (2014 est.)
7.5% (2016 est.)
7.6% (2015 est.)
7.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$16,800 (2016 est.)
$16,300 (2015 est.)
$15,900 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$5,700 (2016 est.)
$5,400 (2015 est.)
$5,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 8.9%
industry: 35.9%
services: 55.3% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 21.3%
industry: 32.5%
services: 39.4% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line7.2% (2015 est.)
22% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 31.5% (2009 est.)
lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2008)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.2% (2016 est.)
-0.9% (2015 est.)
0.7% (2016 est.)
1.3% (2015 est.)
Labor force38.45 million (2016 est.)
3.5 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 31.8%
industry: 16.7%
services: 51.5% (2015 est.)
agriculture: 73.1%
industry: 6.1%
services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
Unemployment rate0.9% (2016 est.)
0.9% (2015 est.)
1.3% (2012 est.)
1.4% (2014 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index44.5 (2015)
48.4 (2011)
36.7 (2008)
34.6 (2002)
Budgetrevenues: $76.69 billion
expenditures: $86.94 billion (2016 est.)
revenues: $2.882 billion
expenditures: $3.822 billion (2016 est.)
Industriestourism, textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing such as jewelry and electric appliances, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics, automobiles and automotive parts, agricultural machinery, air conditioning and refrigeration, ceramics, aluminum, chemical, environmental management, glass, granite and marble, leather, machinery and metal work, petrochemical, petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, printing, pulp and paper, rubber, sugar, rice, fishing, cassava, world's second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer
mining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism
Industrial production growth rate3.1% (2016 est.)
8% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, cassava (manioc, tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, palm oil, pineapple, livestock, fish products
sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc, tapioca), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Exports$215.3 billion (2016 est.)
$214.4 billion (2015 est.)
$3.075 billion (2016 est.)
$2.928 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesautomobiles and parts, computer and parts, jewelry and precious stones, polymers of ethylene in primary forms, refine fuels, electronic integrated circuits, chemical products, rice, fish products, rubber products, sugar, cassava, poultry, machinery and parts, iron and steel and their products
wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
Exports - partnersUS 11.2%, China 11.1%, Japan 9.4%, Hong Kong 5.5%, Malaysia 4.8%, Australia 4.6%, Vietnam 4.2%, Singapore 4.1% (2015)
Thailand 30.4%, China 26.9%, Vietnam 17.5% (2015)
Imports$194.7 billion (2016 est.)
$202.7 billion (2015 est.)
$3.936 billion (2016 est.)
$4.058 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and parts, crude oil, electrical machinery and parts, chemicals, iron & steel and product, electronic integrated circuit, automobile’s parts, jewelry including silver bars and gold, computers and parts, electrical household appliances, soybean, soybean meal, wheat, cotton, dairy products
machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partnersChina 20.3%, Japan 15.4%, US 6.9%, Malaysia 5.9%, UAE 4% (2015)
Thailand 60.9%, China 18.6%, Vietnam 7.3% (2015)
Debt - external$131.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$131.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$11.98 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.77 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesbaht per US dollar -
35.4 (2016 est.)
34.248 (2015 est.)
34.248 (2014 est.)
32.48 (2013 est.)
31.08 (2012 est.)
kips (LAK) per US dollar -
8,190.2 (2016 est.)
8,147.9 (2015 est.)
8,147.9 (2014 est.)
8,049 (2013 est.)
8,007.3 (2012 est.)
Fiscal year1 October - 30 September
1 October - 30 September
Public debt50.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
46% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are sold at public auctions
61.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
61.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$171.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$156.5 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.024 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.058 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance$46.41 billion (2016 est.)
$32.15 billion (2015 est.)
-$2.35 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.114 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$406.8 billion (2016 est.)
$13.76 billion (2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$197.4 billion (31 Decenber 2016 est.)
$188.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$15.14 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$12.44 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$348.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$430.4 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$354.4 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.012 billion (2012 est.)
$576.8 million (2011 est.)
Central bank discount rate1.5% (31 December 2016)
1.5% (31 December 2015)
4.3% (31 December 2010)
4% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate6.4% (31 December 2016 est.)
6.56% (31 December 2015 est.)
16.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.2% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$501.5 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$486.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$8.135 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.231 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$50.36 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$49.27 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.161 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.132 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$518.1 billion (31 Decenber 2016 est.)
$512.5 billion (31 Decenber 2015 est.)
$7.782 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.196 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Taxes and other revenues18.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
20.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-2.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
-6.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 50.9%
government consumption: 17.9%
investment in fixed capital: 24.1%
investment in inventories: -1.4%
exports of goods and services: 65.4%
imports of goods and services: -56.9% (2016 est.)
household consumption: 62.6%
government consumption: 14.1%
investment in fixed capital: 33.1%
investment in inventories: 1%
exports of goods and services: 47.2%
imports of goods and services: -58% (2016 est.)
Gross national saving34.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
32% of GDP (2015 est.)
27.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
25% of GDP (2016 est.)
20% of GDP (2015 est.)
25.8% of GDP (2014 est.)

Energy

ThailandLaos
Electricity - production177.6 billion kWh (2014 est.)
16 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - consumption164 billion kWh (2014 est.)
3.9 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - exports1.6 billion kWh (2014 est.)
13 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - imports12 billion kWh (2014 est.)
1.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Oil - production248,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - imports897,800 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Oil - exports30,010 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Oil - proved reserves400 million bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
0 bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves219.5 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)
0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)
Natural gas - production42.15 billion cu m (2014 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - consumption53.75 billion cu m (2014 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - exports0 cu m (2013 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports11.6 billion cu m (2014 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity40 million kW (2014 est.)
3.4 million kW (2014 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels90.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
1.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants6.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
98.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources3.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production1.273 million bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption1.231 million bbl/day (2014 est.)
3,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports241,800 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports75,400 bbl/day (2013 est.)
3,480 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy301 million Mt (2013 est.)
500,000 Mt (2013 est.)
Electricity accesspopulation without electricity: 700,000
electrification - total population: 99%
electrification - urban areas: 99.7%
electrification - rural areas: 98.3% (2013)
population without electricity: 900,000
electrification - total population: 87%
electrification - urban areas: 97%
electrification - rural areas: 82% (2013)

Telecommunications

ThailandLaos
Telephones - main lines in usetotal subscriptions: 5.309 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (July 2015 est.)
total subscriptions: 962,497
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (July 2015 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellulartotal: 84.797 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 125 (July 2015 est.)
total: 3.727 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 54 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: high quality system, especially in urban areas like Bangkok
domestic: fixed-line system provided by both a government-owned and commercial provider; wireless service expanding rapidly
international: country code - 66; connected to major submarine cable systems providing links throughout Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Pacific Ocean) (2015)
general assessment: service to public is generally improving; the government relies on a radiotelephone network to communicate with remote areas
domestic: mobile cellular network coverage including 3G is relatively widespread, although usage has slowed as the regulator imposed a strict policy on pricing and competition is effectively discouraged; network performance has suffered because of insufficient maintenance and upgrades
international: country code - 856; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) and a second to be developed by China (2017)
Internet country code.th
.la
Internet userstotal: 26.726 million
percent of population: 39.3% (July 2015 est.)
total: 1.258 million
percent of population: 18.2% (July 2015 est.)
Broadcast media26 digital TV stations in Bangkok broadcast nationally, 6 terrestrial TV stations in Bangkok broadcast nationally via relay stations - 2 of the stations are owned by the military, the other 4 are government-owned or controlled, leased to private enterprise, and all are required to broadcast government-produced news programs twice a day; multi-channel satellite and cable TV subscription services are available; radio frequencies have been allotted for more than 500 government and commercial radio stations; many small community radio stations operate with low-power transmitters (2017)
6 TV stations operating out of Vientiane - 3 government-operated and the others commercial; 17 provincial stations operating with nearly all programming relayed via satellite from the government-operated stations in Vientiane; Chinese and Vietnamese programming relayed via satellite from Lao National TV; broadcasts available from stations in Thailand and Vietnam in border areas; multi-channel satellite and cable TV systems provide access to a wide range of foreign stations; state-controlled radio with state-operated Lao National Radio (LNR) broadcasting on 5 frequencies - 1 AM, 1 SW, and 3 FM; LNR's AM and FM programs are relayed via satellite constituting a large part of the programming schedules of the provincial radio stations; Thai radio broadcasts available in border areas and transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are also accessible (2012)

Transportation

ThailandLaos
Roadwaystotal: 180,053 km (includes 450 km of expressways) (2006)
total: 39,586 km
paved: 5,415 km
unpaved: 34,171 km (2009)
Waterways4,000 km (3,701 km navigable by boats with drafts up to 0.9 m) (2011)
4,600 km (primarily on the Mekong River and its tributaries; 2,900 additional km are intermittently navigable by craft drawing less than 0.5 m) (2012)
Pipelinescondensate 2 km; gas 5,900 km; liquid petroleum gas 85 km; oil 1 km; refined products 1,097 km (2013)
refined products 540 km (2013)
Airports101 (2013)
41 (2013)
Airports - with paved runwaystotal: 63
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 6 (2013)
total: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runwaystotal: 38
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 26 (2013)
total: 33
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 22 (2013)

Military

ThailandLaos
Military branchesRoyal Thai Armed Forces (Kongthap Thai, RTARF): Royal Thai Army (Kongthap Bok Thai, RTA), Royal Thai Navy (Kongthap Ruea Thai, RTN, includes Royal Thai Marine Corps), Royal Thai Air Force (Kongthap Agard Thai, RTAF) (2017)
Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA, includes Riverine Force), Air Force (2011)
Military service age and obligation21 years of age for compulsory military service; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; males register at 18 years of age; 2-year conscript service obligation (2012)
18 years of age for compulsory or voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18-months (2012)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP1.45% of GDP (2015)
1.42% of GDP (2014)
1.41% of GDP (2013)
1.38% of GDP (2012)
1.49% of GDP (2011)
0.2% of GDP (2013)
0.22% of GDP (2012)
0.23% of GDP (2011)

Transnational Issues

ThailandLaos
Disputes - internationalseparatist violence in Thailand's predominantly Malay-Muslim southern provinces prompt border closures and controls with Malaysia to stem insurgent activities; Southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Laos but disputes remain over several islands in the Mekong River; despite continuing border committee talks, Thailand must deal with Karen and other ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities; Cambodia and Thailand dispute sections of boundary; in 2011, Thailand and Cambodia resorted to arms in the dispute over the location of the boundary on the precipice surmounted by Preah Vihear temple ruins, awarded to Cambodia by ICJ decision in 1962 and part of a planned UN World Heritage site; Thailand is studying the feasibility of jointly constructing the Hatgyi Dam on the Salween river near the border with Burma; in 2004, international environmentalist pressure prompted China to halt construction of 13 dams on the Salween River that flows through China, Burma, and Thailand; approximately 105,000 mostly Karen refugees fleeing civil strife, political upheaval and economic stagnation in Burma live in remote camps in Thailand near the border
southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Thailand but disputes remain over islands in the Mekong River; Cambodia and Laos have a longstanding border demarcation dispute; concern among Mekong River Commission members that China's construction of eight dams on the Upper Mekong River and construction of more dams on its tributaries will affect water levels, sediment flows, and fisheries; Cambodia and Vietnam are concerned about Laos' extensive plans for upstream dam construction for the same reasons
Illicit drugsa minor producer of opium, heroin, and marijuana; transit point for illicit heroin en route to the international drug market from Burma and Laos; eradication efforts have reduced the area of cannabis cultivation and shifted some production to neighboring countries; opium poppy cultivation has been reduced by eradication efforts; also a drug money-laundering center; minor role in methamphetamine production for regional consumption; major consumer of methamphetamine since the 1990s despite a series of government crackdowns
estimated opium poppy cultivation in 2008 was 1,900 hectares, about a 73% increase from 2007; estimated potential opium production in 2008 more than tripled to 17 metric tons; unsubstantiated reports of domestic methamphetamine production; growing domestic methamphetamine problem (2009)
Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; victims from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, China, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, and India, migrate to Thailand in search of jobs but are forced, coerced, or defrauded into labor in commercial fishing, fishing-related industries, factories, domestic work, street begging, or the sex trade; some Thai, Burmese, Cambodian, and Indonesian men forced to work on fishing boats are kept at sea for years; sex trafficking of adults and children from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Burma remains a significant problem; Thailand is a transit country for victims from China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Burma subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Russia, South Korea, the US, and countries in Western Europe; Thai victims are also trafficked in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, authorities investigated, prosecuted, and convicted fewer traffickers and identified fewer victims; some cases of official complicity were investigated and prosecuted, but trafficking-related corruption continues to hinder progress in combatting trafficking; authorities’ efforts to screen for victims among vulnerable populations remained inadequate due to a poor understanding of trafficking indicators, a failure to recognize non-physical forms of coercion, and a shortage of language interpreters; the government passed new labor laws increasing the minimum age in the fishing industry to 18 years old, guaranteeing the minimum wage, and requiring work contracts, but weak law enforcement and poor coordination among regulatory agencies enabled exploitive labor practices to continue; the government increased efforts to raise public awareness to the dangers of human trafficking and to deny entry to foreign sex tourists (2015)
current situation: Laos is a source and, to a lesser extent, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Lao economic migrants may encounter conditions of forced labor or sexual exploitation in destination countries, most often Thailand; Lao women and girls are exploited in Thailand’s commercial sex trade, domestic service, factories, and agriculture; a small, possibly growing, number of Lao women and girls are sold as brides in China and South Korea and subsequently sex trafficked; Lao men and boys are victims of forced labor in the Thai fishing, construction, and agriculture industries; some Lao children, as well as Vietnamese and Chinese women and girls, are subjected to sex trafficking in Laos; other Vietnamese and Chinese, and possibly Burmese, adults and girls transit Laos for sexual and labor exploitation in neighboring countries, particularly Thailand
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Laos does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; authorities sustained moderate efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders; the government failed to make progress in proactively identifying victims exploited within the country or among those deported from abroad; the government continues to rely almost entirely on local and international organizations to provide and fund services to trafficking victims; although Lao men and boys are trafficked, most protective services are only available to women and girls, and long-term support is lacking; modest prevention efforts include the promotion of anti-trafficking awareness on state-controlled media (2015)

Source: CIA Factbook