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Vietnam vs. Laos

Introduction

VietnamLaos
Background"The conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by communist forces under Ho Chi MINH. Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the communist North and anti-communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under communist rule. Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies, the persecution and mass exodus of individuals - many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants - and growing international isolation. However, since the enactment of Vietnam's ""doi moi"" (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The communist leaders maintain tight control on political expression but have demonstrated some modest steps toward better protection of human rights. The country continues to experience small-scale protests, the vast majority connected to either land-use issues, calls for increased political space, or the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. The small-scale protests in the urban areas are often organized by human rights activists, but many occur in rural areas and involve various ethnic minorities such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands, Hmong in the Northwest Highlands, and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region.
"
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

VietnamLaos
LocationSoutheastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia
Southeastern Asia, northeast of Thailand, west of Vietnam
Geographic coordinates16 10 N, 107 50 E
18 00 N, 105 00 E
Map referencesSoutheast Asia
Southeast Asia
Areatotal: 331,210 sq km
land: 310,070 sq km
water: 21,140 sq km
total: 236,800 sq km
land: 230,800 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
Area - comparativeabout three times the size of Tennesee; slightly larger than New Mexico
about twice the size of Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Utah
Land boundariestotal: 4,616 km
border countries (3): Cambodia 1,158 km, China 1,297 km, Laos 2,161 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
Coastline3,444 km (excludes islands)
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
none (landlocked)
Climatetropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)
tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
Terrainlow, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest
mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Elevation extremesmean elevation: 398 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m
mean elevation: 710 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Mekong River 70 m
highest point: Phu Bia 2,817 m
Natural resourcesphosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower, arable land
timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Land useagricultural land: 34.8%
arable land 20.6%; permanent crops 12.1%; permanent pasture 2.1%
forest: 45%
other: 20.2% (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 land46,000 sq km (2012)
3,100 sq km (2012)
Natural hazardsoccasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta
floods, droughts
Environment - current issueslogging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices contribute to deforestation and soil degradation; water pollution and overfishing threaten marine life populations; groundwater contamination limits potable water supply; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
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, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 - noteextending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point
landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
Population distributionthough it has one of the highest population densities in the world, the population is not evenly dispersed; clustering appears heaviest along the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin, with the Mekong Delta (in the south) and the Red River Valley (in the north) having the largest concentrations of people
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

VietnamLaos
Population95,261,021 (July 2016 est.)
7,019,073 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 23.84% (male 11,938,563/female 10,767,261)
15-24 years: 16.69% (male 8,240,861/female 7,658,711)
25-54 years: 45.22% (male 21,690,214/female 21,390,448)
55-64 years: 8.24% (male 3,610,716/female 4,238,569)
65 years and over: 6.01% (male 2,216,485/female 3,509,193) (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: 30.1 years
male: 28.9 years
female: 31.2 years (2016 est.)
total: 22.7 years
male: 22.4 years
female: 23 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate0.95% (2016 est.)
1.53% (2016 est.)
Birth rate15.7 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
23.9 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate5.9 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
7.5 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
-1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.11 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.85 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female
total population: 1 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: 17.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 18.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.4 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: 73.4 years
male: 70.9 years
female: 76.2 years (2016 est.)
total population: 64.3 years
male: 62.2 years
female: 66.4 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.82 children born/woman (2016 est.)
2.76 children born/woman (2016 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.48% (2015 est.)
0.26% (2014 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese
noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
adjective: Lao or Laotian
Ethnic groupsKinh (Viet) 85.7%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.8%, Muong 1.5%, Khmer 1.5%, Mong 1.2%, Nung 1.1%, Hoa 1%, other 4.3%
note: 54 ethnic groups are recognized by the Vietnamese Government (2009 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/AIDS255,100 (2015 est.)
11,100 (2014 est.)
ReligionsBuddhist 7.9%, Catholic 6.6%, Hoa Hao 1.7%, Cao Dai 0.9%, Protestant 0.9%, Muslim 0.1%, none 81.8% (2009 est.)
Buddhist 64.7%, Christian 1.7%, none 31.4%, other/not stated 2.1% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths8,900 (2015 est.)
500 (2014 est.)
LanguagesVietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.5%
male: 96.3%
female: 92.8% (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, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis (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)
Education expenditures5.7% of GDP (2013)
3.3% of GDP (2014)
Urbanizationurban population: 33.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.95% 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: 99.1% of population
rural: 96.9% of population
total: 97.6% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0.9% of population
rural: 3.1% of population
total: 2.4% 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: 94.4% of population
rural: 69.7% of population
total: 78% of population
unimproved:
urban: 5.6% of population
rural: 30.3% of population
total: 22% 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 - populationHo Chi Minh City 7.298 million; HANOI (capital) 3.629 million; Can Tho 1.175 million; Haiphong 1.075 million; Da Nang 952,000; Bien Hoa 834,000 (2015)
VIENTIANE (capital) 997,000 (2015)
Maternal mortality rate54 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
197 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight12.1% (2013)
26.5% (2012)
Health expenditures7.1% of GDP (2014)
1.9% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density1.18 physicians/1,000 population (2013)
0.18 physicians/1,000 population (2012)
Hospital bed density2 beds/1,000 population (2010)
1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate3.5% (2014)
3% (2014)
Child labor - children ages 5-14total number: 2,545,616
percentage: 16% (2006 est.)
total number: 175,138
percentage: 11% (2006 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate75.7% (2013/14)
49.8% (2011/12)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 42.5
youth dependency ratio: 32.9
elderly dependency ratio: 9.6
potential support ratio: 10.4 (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

VietnamLaos
Country name"conventional long form: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
conventional short form: Vietnam
local long form: Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam
local short form: Viet Nam
abbreviation: SRV
etymology: ""Viet nam"" translates as ""Viet south,"" where ""Viet"" is an ethnic self identification dating to a second century B.C. kingdom and ""nam"" refers to its location in relation to other Viet kingdoms
"
"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 typecommunist state
communist state
Capitalname: Hanoi (Ha Noi)
geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 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 divisions58 provinces (tinh, singular and plural) and 5 municipalities (thanh pho, singular and plural)
provinces: An Giang, Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Bac Lieu, Bac Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ben Tre, Binh Dinh, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Cao Bang, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Ha Nam, Ha Tinh, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hoa Binh, Hung Yen, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Kon Tum, Lai Chau, Lam Dong, Lang Son, Lao Cai, Long An, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Ninh Binh, Ninh Thuan, Phu Tho, Phu Yen, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Ninh, Quang Tri, Soc Trang, Son La, Tay Ninh, Thai Binh, Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, Thua Thien-Hue, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, Tuyen Quang, Vinh Long, Vinh Phuc, Yen Bai
municipalities: Can Tho, Da Nang, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
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
Independence2 September 1945 (from France)
19 July 1949 (from France)
National holidayIndependence Day (National Day), 2 September (1945)
Republic Day (National Day), 2 December (1975)
Constitutionseveral previous; latest adopted 15 April 1992, effective 1 January 1995; amended 2001, 2013 (2016)
previous 1947 (preindependence); latest promulgated 13-15 August 1991; amended 2003, 2015 (2016)
Legal systemcivil law system; note - the civil code of 2005 reflects a European-style civil law
civil law system similar in form to the French system
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Tran Dai QUANG (since 2 April 2016); Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc THINH (since 7 April 2016)
head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan PHUC (since 7 April 2016); Deputy Prime Ministers Truong Hoa BINH (since 9 April 2016), Vuong Dinh HUE (since 9 April 2016), Vu Duc DAM (since 13 November 2013), Trinh Dinh DUNG (since 9 April 2016), Pham Binh MINH (since 13 November 2013)
cabinet: Cabinet proposed by prime minister, appointed by the president, and confirmed by the National Assembly
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by National Assembly from among its members for a single 5-year term; election last held on 2 April 2016 (next to be held in spring 2021); prime minister appointed by the president from among members of the National Assembly, confirmed by National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by the prime minister, confirmed by National Assembly
election results: Tran Dai QUANG (CPV) elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 98.9%; Nguyen Xuan PHUC elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - 91.0%
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: unicameral National Assembly or Quoc Hoi (500 seats; members directly elected by absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 22 May 2016 (next to be held in May 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPV 475, non-party CPV-approved 19, self-nominated 2; note - 496 candidates were elected
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 People's Court (consists of the chief justice and 13 judges)
judge selection and term of office: chief justice elected by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the president for a 5-year, renewable term; other judges appointed by the president for 5-year terms
subordinate courts: Court of Appeals; administrative, civil, criminal, economic, and labor courts; Central Military Court; People's Special Courts; note - the National Assembly can establish special tribunals
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 leadersCommunist Party of Vietnam or CPV [Nguyen Phu TRONG]

note: other parties proscribed
Lao People's Revolutionary Party or LPRP [BOUNNYANG Vorachit]
note: other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leaders8406 Bloc
Democratic Party of Vietnam or DPV
People's Democratic Party Vietnam or PDP-VN
Alliance for Democracy
note: these groups advocate democracy but are not recognized by the government
NA
International organization participationADB, APEC, ARF, ASEAN, CICA, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, 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 Pham Quang VINH (since 23 February 2015)
chancery: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 861-0737
FAX: [1] (202) 861-0917
consulate(s) general: Houston, San Francisco
consulate: 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 Ted G. OSIUS III (since 16 December 2014)
embassy: 7 Lang Ha Street, Hanoi
mailing address: 7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; 4550 Hanoi Place, Washington, DC 20521-4550
telephone: [84] (4) 3850-5000
FAX: [84] (4) 3850-5010
consulate(s) general: Ho Chi Minh City
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 descriptionred field with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center; red symbolizes revolution and blood, the five-pointed star represents the five elements of the populace - peasants, workers, intellectuals, traders, and soldiers - that unite to build socialism
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: ""Tien quan ca"" (The Song of the Marching Troops)
lyrics/music: Nguyen Van CAO
note: adopted as the national anthem of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945; it became the national anthem of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976; although it consists of two verses, only the first is used as the official 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
"
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)yellow, five-pointed star on red field; lotus blossom; national colors: red, yellow
elephant; national colors: red, white, blue
Citizenshipcitizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Vietnam
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

VietnamLaos
Economy - overviewVietnam is a densely populated developing country that has been transitioning from the rigidities of a centrally planned, highly agrarian economy since 1986 to a more industrial and market based economy, raising incomes substantially. In 2016, Vietnam missed its yearly growth target of 6.7% due to environmental issues – drought and salinization - impacting the agricultural sector and low oil prices affecting the extractive sector. However, annual GDP growth was 6.2%, reflecting strengthening domestic demand and strong manufacturing exports.

Vietnam has a young population, stable political system, commitment to sustainable growth, relatively low inflation, stable currency, strong FDI inflows, and strong manufacturing sector. In addition, the country is committed to continuing its global economic integration. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007 and concluded several free trade agreements in 2015-2016, including the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, the Korean Free Trade Agreement, and the Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement.

However, to continue its trajectory of strong economic growth, the government acknowledges the need to spark a ?second wave’ of reforms, including reforming state-owned-enterprises, reducing red tape, increasing business sector transparency, reducing the level of non-performing loans in the banking sector, and increasing financial sector transparency. Vietnam has demonstrated a commitment to sustainable growth over the last several years, but a recent slow-down in economic growth could test the government’s resolve.

In 2016, Vietnam cancelled its civilian nuclear energy development program, citing public concerns about safety and the high cost of the program, and is facing growing pressure on energy infrastructure. Overall, the country’s infrastructure fails to meet the needs of an expanding middle class. As the 2017 APEC chair, Vietnam will lead the dialogue on key APEC priorities such as inclusive growth, innovation, food security and climate change.
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)$594.9 billion (2016 est.)
$560.7 billion (2015 est.)
$525.6 billion (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 rate6.1% (2016 est.)
6.7% (2015 est.)
6% (2014 est.)
7.5% (2016 est.)
7.6% (2015 est.)
7.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$6,400 (2016 est.)
$6,100 (2015 est.)
$5,800 (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: 17%
industry: 39%
services: 44% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 21.3%
industry: 32.5%
services: 39.4% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line11.3% (2012 est.)
22% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 30.2% (2008)
lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2008)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)2.8% (2016 est.)
0.9% (2015 est.)
0.7% (2016 est.)
1.3% (2015 est.)
Labor force54.93 million (2016 est.)
3.5 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 48%
industry: 21%
services: 31% (2012)
agriculture: 73.1%
industry: 6.1%
services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
Unemployment rate3.7% (2016 est.)
3.5% (2015 est.)
1.3% (2012 est.)
1.4% (2014 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index37.6 (2008)
36.1 (1998)
36.7 (2008)
34.6 (2002)
Budgetrevenues: $48.04 billion
expenditures: $57.21 billion (2016 est.)
revenues: $2.882 billion
expenditures: $3.822 billion (2016 est.)
Industriesfood processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, mobile phones
mining (copper, tin, gold, gypsum); timber, electric power, agricultural processing, rubber, construction, garments, cement, tourism
Industrial production growth rate7% (2016 est.)
8% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, coffee, rubber, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; pork; poultry; seafood
sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, tea, peanuts, rice; cassava (manioc, tapioca), water buffalo, pigs, cattle, poultry
Exports$169.2 billion (2016 est.)
$162.1 billion (2015 est.)
$3.075 billion (2016 est.)
$2.928 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesclothes, shoes, electronics, seafood, crude oil, rice, coffee, wooden products, machinery
wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
Exports - partnersUS 21%, China 13.2%, Japan 8.4%, South Korea 5.4%, Germany 4.1% (2015)
Thailand 30.4%, China 26.9%, Vietnam 17.5% (2015)
Imports$161 billion (2016 est.)
$154.7 billion (2015 est.)
$3.936 billion (2016 est.)
$4.058 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, petroleum products, steel products, raw materials for the clothing and shoe industries, electronics, plastics, automobiles
machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods
Imports - partnersChina 34%, South Korea 14.2%, Singapore 6.5%, Japan 6.4%, Hong Kong 5.1%, Thailand 4.5% (2015)
Thailand 60.9%, China 18.6%, Vietnam 7.3% (2015)
Debt - external$78.88 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$73.33 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$11.98 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.77 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesdong (VND) per US dollar -
22,347 (2016 est.)
21,909 (2015 est.)
21,909 (2014 est.)
21,189 (2013 est.)
20,859 (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 yearcalendar year
1 October - 30 September
Public debt54.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
54.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: official data; 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 not sold at public auctions
61.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
61.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$34.66 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$28.62 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.024 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.058 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance$9.432 billion (2016 est.)
$906 million (2015 est.)
-$2.35 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.114 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$200.5 billion (2016 est.)
$13.76 billion (2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$114.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$102.7 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$51.88 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$46.07 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$40.06 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.012 billion (2012 est.)
$576.8 million (2011 est.)
Central bank discount rate9% (31 December 2012)
15% (31 December 2011)
4.3% (31 December 2010)
4% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate6.8% (31 December 2016 est.)
7.12% (31 December 2015 est.)
16.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.2% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$285.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$239.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$8.135 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.231 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$74.94 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$62.92 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.161 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.132 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$300.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$256.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.782 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.196 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Taxes and other revenues24% of GDP (2016 est.)
20.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-4.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
-6.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 65.6%
government consumption: 6.5%
investment in fixed capital: 25.7%
investment in inventories: 3.9%
exports of goods and services: 89.6%
imports of goods and services: -91.3% (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 saving28.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
28.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
31.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
25% of GDP (2016 est.)
20% of GDP (2015 est.)
25.8% of GDP (2014 est.)

Energy

VietnamLaos
Electricity - production135 billion kWh (2014 est.)
16 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - consumption125 billion kWh (2014 est.)
3.9 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - exports1.5 billion kWh (2014 est.)
13 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - imports4.1 billion kWh (2014 est.)
1.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Oil - production333,400 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - imports0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Oil - exports163,100 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Oil - proved reserves4.4 billion bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
0 bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves699.4 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)
0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)
Natural gas - production8.99 billion cu m (2014 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - consumption8.99 billion cu m (2014 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - exports0 cu m (2013 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports0 cu m (2013 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity39 million kW (2014 est.)
3.4 million kW (2014 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels48.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
1.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants50.9% 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 sources0.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production141,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption392,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
3,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports27,740 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports211,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
3,480 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy142 million Mt (2013 est.)
500,000 Mt (2013 est.)
Electricity accesspopulation without electricity: 2,600,000
electrification - total population: 99%
electrification - urban areas: 100%
electrification - rural areas: 98% (2013)
population without electricity: 900,000
electrification - total population: 87%
electrification - urban areas: 97%
electrification - rural areas: 82% (2013)

Telecommunications

VietnamLaos
Telephones - main lines in usetotal subscriptions: 5.9 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (July 2015 est.)
total subscriptions: 962,497
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (July 2015 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellulartotal: 122 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 129 (July 2015 est.)
total: 3.727 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 54 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: Vietnam is putting considerable effort into modernization and expansion of its telecommunication system
domestic: all provincial exchanges are digitalized and connected to Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City by fiber-optic cable or microwave radio relay networks; main lines have been increased, and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly
international: country code - 84; a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3, the C2C, and Thailand-Vietnam-Hong Kong submarine cable systems; the Asia-America Gateway submarine cable system, completed in 2009, provided new access links to Asia and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) (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.vn
.la
Internet userstotal: 49.741 million
percent of population: 52.7% (July 2015 est.)
total: 1.258 million
percent of population: 18.2% (July 2015 est.)
Broadcast mediagovernment controls all broadcast media exercising oversight through the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC); government-controlled national TV provider, Vietnam Television (VTV), operates a network of 9 channels with several regional broadcasting centers; programming is relayed nationwide via a network of provincial and municipal TV stations; law limits access to satellite TV but many households are able to access foreign programming via home satellite equipment; government-controlled Voice of Vietnam, the national radio broadcaster, broadcasts on 6 channels and is repeated on AM, FM, and shortwave stations throughout Vietnam (2008)
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

VietnamLaos
Roadwaystotal: 195,468 km
paved: 148,338 km
unpaved: 47,130 km (2013)
total: 39,586 km
paved: 5,415 km
unpaved: 34,171 km (2009)
Waterways47,130 km (30,831 km weight under 50 tons) (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 72 km; condensate/gas 398 km; gas 955 km; oil 128 km; oil/gas/water 33 km; refined products 206 km; water 13 km (2013)
refined products 540 km (2013)
Airports45 (2013)
41 (2013)
Airports - with paved runwaystotal: 38
over 3,047 m: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 9 (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: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2013)
total: 33
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 22 (2013)

Military

VietnamLaos
Military branchesPeople's Armed Forces: People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN, includes Vietnam People's Navy (with Naval Infantry), Vietnam People's Air and Air Defense Force, Border Defense Command, Coast Guard) (2013)
Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA, includes Riverine Force), Air Force (2011)
Military service age and obligation18-25 years of age for male compulsory and voluntary military service; females may volunteer for active duty military service; conscription typically takes place twice annually and service obligation is 18 months (Army, Air Defense), 2 years (Navy and Air Force); 18-45 years of age (male) or 18-40 years of age (female) for Militia Force or Self Defense Force service; males may enroll in military schools at age 17 (2013)
18 years of age for compulsory or voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18-months (2012)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP2.36% of GDP (2015)
2.29% of GDP (2014)
2.18% of GDP (2013)
2.16% of GDP (2012)
1.98% of GDP (2011)
0.2% of GDP (2013)
0.22% of GDP (2012)
0.23% of GDP (2011)

Transnational Issues

VietnamLaos
Disputes - international"southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; Cambodia and Laos protest Vietnamese squatters and armed encroachments along border; Cambodia accuses Vietnam of a wide variety of illicit cross-border activities; progress on a joint development area with Cambodia is hampered by an unresolved dispute over sovereignty of offshore islands; an estimated 300,000 Vietnamese refugees reside in China; establishment of a maritime boundary with Cambodia is hampered by unresolved dispute over the sovereignty of offshore islands; the decade-long demarcation of the China-Vietnam land boundary was completed in 2009; China occupies the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; Brunei claims a maritime boundary extending beyond as far as a median with Vietnam, thus asserting an implicit claim to Lousia Reef; the 2002 ""Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea"" has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding ""code of conduct"" desired by several of the disputants; Vietnam continues to expand construction of facilities in the Spratly Islands; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands; Economic Exclusion Zone negotiations with Indonesia are ongoing, and the two countries in Fall 2011 agreed to work together to reduce illegal fishing along their maritime boundary
"
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 drugsminor producer of opium poppy; probable minor transit point for Southeast Asian heroin; government continues to face domestic opium/heroin/methamphetamine addiction problems despite longstanding crackdowns; enforces the death penalty for drug trafficking
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)

Source: CIA Factbook