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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military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973.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
Location
Southeastern 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 coordinates
16 10 N, 107 50 E
18 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Area
total: 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 - comparative
about three times the size of Tennessee; slightly larger than New Mexico
about twice the size of Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Utah
Land boundaries
total: 4,616 km
border countries (3): Cambodia 1158 km, China 1297 km, Laos 2161 km
total: 5,274 km
border countries (5): Burma 238 km, Cambodia 555 km, China 475 km, Thailand 1845 km, Vietnam 2161 km
Coastline
3,444 km (excludes islands)
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
none (landlocked)
Climate
tropical 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)
Terrain
low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest
mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Elevation extremes
mean elevation: 398 m
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m
mean elevation: 710 m
lowest point: Mekong River 70 m
highest point: Phu Bia 2,817 m
Natural resources
antimony, phosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower, arable land
timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold, gemstones
Land use
agricultural land: 34.8% (2011 est.)
arable land: 20.6% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 12.1% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 2.1% (2011 est.)
forest: 45% (2011 est.)
other: 20.2% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 10.6% (2011 est.)
arable land: 6.2% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0.7% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 3.7% (2011 est.)
forest: 67.9% (2011 est.)
other: 21.5% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land
46,000 sq km (2012)
3,100 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards
occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta
floods, droughts
Environment - current issues
logging 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; air pollution; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; water pollution, most of the population does not have access to potable water
Environment - international agreements
party 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, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
note 1: extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point

note 2: Son Doong in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is the world's largest cave (greatest cross sectional area) and is the largest known cave passage in the world by volume; it currently measures a total of 38.5 million cu m (about 1.35 billion cu ft); it connects to Thung cave (but not yet officially); when recognized, it will add an additional 1.6 million cu m in volume; Son Doong is so massive that it contains its own jungle, underground river, and localized weather system; clouds form inside the cave and spew out from its exits and two dolines (openings (sinkhole skylights) created by collapsed ceilings that allow sunlight to stream in)

landlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
Population distribution
though it has one of the highest population densities in the world, the population is not evenly dispersed; clustering is 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
Population
98,721,275 (July 2020 est.)
7,447,396 (July 2020 est.)
Age structure
0-14 years: 22.61% (male 11,733,704/female 10,590,078)
15-24 years: 15.22% (male 7,825,859/female 7,202,716)
25-54 years: 45.7% (male 22,852,429/female 22,262,566)
55-64 years: 9.55% (male 4,412,111/female 5,016,880)
65 years and over: 6.91% (male 2,702,963/female 4,121,969) (2020 est.)
0-14 years: 31.25% (male 1,177,297/female 1,149,727)
15-24 years: 20.6% (male 763,757/female 770,497)
25-54 years: 38.29% (male 1,407,823/female 1,443,774)
55-64 years: 5.73% (male 206,977/female 219,833)
65 years and over: 4.13% (male 139,665/female 168,046) (2020 est.)
Median age
total: 31.9 years
male: 30.8 years
female: 33 years (2020 est.)
total: 24 years
male: 23.7 years
female: 24.4 years (2020 est.)
Population growth rate
0.84% (2020 est.)
1.44% (2020 est.)
Birth rate
14.5 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
22.4 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Death rate
6 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
7.2 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Net migration rate
-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
-1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 100.7 male(s)/female (2020 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: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 98.5 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
Infant mortality rate
total: 15.7 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
total: 45.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 50.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 40.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 74.4 years
male: 71.9 years
female: 77.1 years (2020 est.)
total population: 65.7 years
male: 63.6 years
female: 67.9 years (2020 est.)
Total fertility rate
1.77 children born/woman (2020 est.)
2.53 children born/woman (2020 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
0.3% (2019 est.)
0.3% (2019 est.)
Nationality
noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese
noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
adjective: Lao or Laotian
Ethnic groups
Kinh (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% (2009 est.)

note: 54 ethnic groups are recognized by the Vietnamese Government

Lao 53.2%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 9.2%, Phouthay 3.4%, Tai 3.1%, Makong 2.5%, Katong 2.2%, Lue 2%, Akha 1.8%, other 11.6% (2015 est.)

note: the Laos Government officially recognizes 49 ethnic groups, but the total number of ethnic groups is estimated to be well over 200

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
230,000 (2019 est.)
13,000 (2019 est.)
Religions
Buddhist 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 - deaths
5,000 (2019 est.)
<500 (2019 est.)
Languages
Vietnamese (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
Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95%
male: 96.5%
female: 93.6% (2018)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.7%
male: 90%
female: 79.4% (2015)
Major infectious diseases
degree of risk: very high (2020)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis
degree of risk: very high (2020)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
Education expenditures
5.7% of GDP (2013)
2.9% of GDP (2014)
Urbanization
urban population: 37.3% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 2.98% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 36.3% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 3.28% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Drinking water source
improved: urban: 98.6% of population
rural: 92.6% of population
total: 94.7% of population
unimproved: urban: 1.4% of population
rural: 7.4% of population
total: 5.3% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 94.4% of population
rural: 76.8% of population
total: 82.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 5.6% of population
rural: 23.2% of population
total: 17.9% of population (2017 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 96.9% of population
rural: 82.1% of population
total: 87.3% of population
unimproved: urban: 3.1% of population
rural: 17.9% of population
total: 12.7% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 98% of population
rural: 66.3% of population
total: 77.2% of population
unimproved: urban: 2% of population
rural: 33.7% of population
total: 22.8% of population (2017 est.)
Major cities - population
8.602 million Ho Chi Minh City, 4.678 million HANOI (capital), 1.618 million Can Tho, 1.300 million Hai Phong, 1.125 million Da Nang, 1.013 million Bien Hoa (2020)
683,000 VIENTIANE (capital) (2020)
Maternal mortality rate
43 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
185 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
13.4% (2017)
21.1% (2017)
Health expenditures
5.5% (2017)
2.5% (2017)
Physicians density
0.83 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
0.49 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed density
2.6 beds/1,000 population (2014)
1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
2.1% (2016)
5.3% (2016)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
77.5% (2016)
54.1% (2017)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 45.1
youth dependency ratio: 33.6
elderly dependency ratio: 11.4
potential support ratio: 8.8 (2020 est.)
total dependency ratio: 56.8
youth dependency ratio: 50.1
elderly dependency ratio: 6.7
potential support ratio: 15 (2020 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 type
communist state
communist state
Capital
name: Hanoi (Ha Noi)
geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: the city has had many names in its history going back to A.D. 1010 when it first became the capital of imperial Vietnam; in 1831, it received its current name of Ha Noi, meaning "between the rivers," which refers to its geographic location
name: Vientiane (Viangchan)
geographic coordinates: 17 58 N, 102 36 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: the meaning in Pali, a Buddhist liturgical language, is "city of sandalwood"
Administrative divisions

58 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 (Hanoi), Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

17 provinces (khoueng, singular and plural) and 1 prefecture* (kampheng nakhon); Attapu, Bokeo, Bolikhamxai, Champasak, Houaphan, Khammouan, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, Salavan, Savannakhet, Viangchan (Vientiane)*, Viangchan, Xaignabouli, Xaisomboun, Xekong, Xiangkhouang
Independence
2 September 1945 (from France)
19 July 1949 (from France by the Franco-Lao General Convention); 22 October 1953 (Franco-Lao Treaty recognizes full independence)
National holiday
Independence Day (National Day), 2 September (1945)
Republic Day (National Day), 2 December (1975)
Constitution
history: several previous; latest adopted 28 November 2013, effective 1 January 2014
amendments: proposed by the president, by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee, or by at least two thirds of the National Assembly membership; a decision to draft an amendment requires approval by at least a two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership, followed by the formation of a constitutional drafting committee to write a draft and collect citizens’ opinions; passage requires at least two-thirds majority of the Assembly membership; the Assembly can opt to conduct a referendum
history: previous 1947 (preindependence); latest promulgated 13-15 August 1991
amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership and promulgation by the president of the republic; amended 2003, 2015
Legal system
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state: President Nguyen Phu TRONG (since 23 October 2018); note - President Tran Dai QUANG (since 2 April 2016) died on 21 September 2018
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 confirmed by the National Assembly and appointed by the president
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 recommended by the president and confirmed by National Assembly; deputy prime ministers confirmed by the National Assembly and appointed by the president
election results: Nguyen Phu TRONG (CPV) elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 99.8%; Nguyen Xuan PHUC elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - 91%
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 branch
description: unicameral National Assembly or Quoc Hoi (500 seats - number following 2016 election - 494; number of current serving members - 484; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote; 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 -CPV 95.8%, non-party members 4.2%; seats by party - CPV 474, non-party CPV-approved 20, self-nominated 2; note - 494 candidates elected, 2 CPV candidates-elect were disqualified; composition - men 364, women 122, percent of women 26.6%
description: unicameral National Assembly or Sapha Heng Xat (149 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 March 2016 (next to be held in 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPRP 144, independent 5; composition - men 108, women 41, percent of women 27.5%
Judicial branch
highest courts: 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 upon the recommendation of the president for a 5-year, renewable term; deputy chief justice appointed by the president from among the judges for a 5-year term; judges appointed by the president and confirmed by the National Assembly for 5-year terms
subordinate courts: High Courts (administrative, civil, criminal, economic, labor, family, juvenile); provincial courts; district courts; Military Court; note - the National Assembly Standing Committee can establish special tribunals upon the recommendation of the chief justice
highest courts: 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 the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the president of the republic for a 5-year term; vice presidents of the People's Supreme Court appointed by the president of the republic upon the 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 leaders
Communist 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

International organization participation
ADB, 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 US
Ambassador Ha Kim NGOC (since 17 September 2018)
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(s): New York
Ambassador KHAMPHAN Anlavan (since January 2019)
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 US
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel KRITENBRINK (since 6 November 2017)
telephone: [84] (24) 3850-5000
embassy: 7 Lang Ha Street, Hanoi
mailing address: 7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; 4550 Hanoi Place, Washington, DC 20521-4550
FAX: [84] (24) 3850-5010
consulate(s) general: Ho Chi Minh City
chief of mission: Ambassador Peter HAYMOND (since 7 February 2020)
telephone: [856] 21-48-7000
embassy: Thadeua Road, Kilometer 9, Ban Somvang Tai, Hatsayfong District, Vientiane
mailing address: American Embassy Vientiane, Unit 46222, APO AP 96546-6222
FAX: [856] 21-48-7190
Flag description
red 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 participation
has 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
Citizenship
citizenship 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 - overview

Vietnam is a densely populated developing country that has been transitioning since 1986 from the rigidities of a centrally planned, highly agrarian economy to a more industrial and market based economy, and it has raised incomes substantially. Vietnam exceeded its 2017 GDP growth target of 6.7% with growth of 6.8%, primarily due to unexpected increases in 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 2015-16, including the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (which the EU has not yet ratified), the Korean Free Trade Agreement, and the Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement. In 2017, Vietnam successfully chaired the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference with its key priorities including inclusive growth, innovation, strengthening small and medium enterprises, food security, and climate change. Seeking to diversify its opportunities, Vietnam also signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Transpacific Partnership in 2018 and continued to pursue the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

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’s public debt to GDP ratio is nearing the government mandated ceiling of 65%.

In 2016, Vietnam cancelled its civilian nuclear energy development program, citing public concerns about safety and the high cost of the program; it faces growing pressure on energy infrastructure. Overall, the country’s infrastructure fails to meet the needs of an expanding middle class. Vietnam has demonstrated a commitment to sustainable growth over the last several years, but despite the recent speed-up in economic growth the government remains cautious about the risk of external shocks.

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 in the period 1988-2008, and Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia, averaging more than 7% per year for most of the last decade.

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 20% 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.

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)
$648.7 billion (2017 est.)
$607.4 billion (2016 est.)
$571.9 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$49.34 billion (2017 est.)
$46.16 billion (2016 est.)
$43.13 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
6.8% (2017 est.)
7.16% (2017 est.)
6.2% (2016 est.)
6.9% (2017 est.)
7% (2016 est.)
7.3% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$6,900 (2017 est.)
$6,600 (2016 est.)
$6,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$7,400 (2017 est.)
$7,000 (2016 est.)
$6,600 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 15.3% (2017 est.)
industry: 33.3% (2017 est.)
services: 51.3% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 20.9% (2017 est.)
industry: 33.2% (2017 est.)
services: 45.9% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
8% (2017 est.)
22% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 26.8% (2014)
lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 30.3% (2008)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
3.5% (2017 est.)
2.7% (2016 est.)
0.8% (2017 est.)
1.6% (2016 est.)
Labor force
54.659 million (2019 est.)
3.582 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 40.3%
industry: 25.7%
services: 34% (2017)
agriculture: 73.1%
industry: 6.1%
services: 20.6% (2012 est.)
Unemployment rate
3.11% (2018 est.)
2.2% (2017 est.)
0.7% (2017 est.)
0.7% (2016 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
34.8 (2014)
37.6 (2008)
36.7 (2008)
34.6 (2002)
Budget
revenues: 54.59 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 69.37 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 3.099 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 4.038 billion (2017 est.)
Industries
food 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 rate
8% (2017 est.)
8% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
rice, 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
$214.1 billion (2017 est.)
$176.6 billion (2016 est.)
$3.654 billion (2017 est.)
$2.705 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
clothes, shoes, electronics, seafood, crude oil, rice, coffee, wooden products, machinery
wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper, gold, cassava
Exports - partners
US 20.1%, China 14.5%, Japan 8%, South Korea 6.8% (2017)
Thailand 42.6%, China 28.7%, Vietnam 10.4%, India 4.4% (2017)
Imports
$202.6 billion (2017 est.)
$162.6 billion (2016 est.)
$4.976 billion (2017 est.)
$4.739 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery 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 - partners
China 25.8%, South Korea 20.5%, Japan 7.8%, Thailand 4.9% (2017)
Thailand 59.1%, China 21.5%, Vietnam 9.8% (2017)
Debt - external
$96.58 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$84.34 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$14.9 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$12.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
dong (VND) per US dollar -
22,425 (2017 est.)
22,159 (2016 est.)
22,355 (2015 est.)
21,909 (2014 est.)
21,189 (2013 est.)
kips (LAK) per US dollar -
8,231.1 (2017 est.)
8,129.1 (2016 est.)
8,129.1 (2015 est.)
8,147.9 (2014 est.)
8,049 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
1 October - 30 September
Public debt
58.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
59.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: official data; data cover general government debt and include 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 intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental 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

63.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
58.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$49.5 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$36.91 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.27 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$940.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
$12.478 billion (2019 est.)
$5.769 billion (2018 est.)
-$2.057 billion (2017 est.)
-$2.07 billion (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$220.4 billion (2017 est.)
$16.97 billion (2017 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$129.5 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$293.2 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$15.14 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$12.44 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$156.7 billion (29 December 2017 est.)
$87.95 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$52.39 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.012 billion (2012 est.)
$576.8 million (2011 est.)
Central bank discount rate
4.25% (7 October 2017)
15% (31 December 2011)
4.3% (31 December 2010)
4% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
7.07% (31 December 2017 est.)
6.96% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.5% (31 December 2017 est.)
18% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$313 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$277.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$9.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$8.623 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$85.96 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$73.48 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.131 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$85.96 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$73.48 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.131 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
24.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
18.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-6.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-5.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 6.9%
male: 6%
female: 7.9% (2018 est.)
total: 18.2%
male: 20.8%
female: 15.5% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 66.9% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 6.5% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 24.2% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 2.8% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 100% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -101% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 63.7% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 14.1% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 30.9% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 3.1% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 34.6% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -43.2% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving
29% of GDP (2017 est.)
29.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
27.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
22.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
21.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
15.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Energy

VietnamLaos
Electricity - production
158.2 billion kWh (2016 est.)
29.74 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption
143.2 billion kWh (2016 est.)
5.471 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports
713 million kWh (2017 est.)
8.469 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - imports
2.733 billion kWh (2016 est.)
2.5 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production
242,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)
0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
Oil - imports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - exports
324,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - proved reserves
4.4 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves
699.4 billion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Natural gas - production
8.098 billion cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption
8.098 billion cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity
40.77 million kW (2016 est.)
6.94 million kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels
56% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
28% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants
43% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
72% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources
1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production
153,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption
438,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
18,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports
25,620 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports
282,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)
17,460 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy
235.3 million Mt (2017 est.)
10.42 million Mt (2017 est.)
Electricity access
electrification - total population: 100% (2019)
electrification - total population: 95% (2019)
electrification - urban areas: 98% (2019)
electrification - rural areas: 93% (2019)

Telecommunications

VietnamLaos
Telephones - main lines in use
total subscriptions: 3,710,210
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3.79 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 1,526,232
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20.79 (2019 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular
total subscriptions: 138,256,733
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 141.23 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 4,466,375
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 60.84 (2019 est.)
Internet country code
.vn
.la
Internet users
total: 68,267,875
percent of population: 70.35% (July 2018 est.)
total: 1,845,437
percent of population: 25.51% (July 2018 est.)
Telecommunication systems
general assessment: despite being a communist country there are plans to part privatize the state’s holdings in telecom companies as well as a large number of other enterprises; competition is thriving in the market place; mobile dominates over fixed-line; FttH market growing, as is e-commerce; govt. is the driving force for growth and moving towards commercializing 5G services with test licenses issued in 2019; 5 major operators; Ho Chi Minh City to become the first smart city in Vietnam with cloud computing infrastructure, big data, data centers and security-monitoring centers (2020)
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; fixed-line 4 per 100 and mobile-cellular 141 per 100 (2019)
international: country code - 84; landing points for the SeaMeWe-3, APG, SJC2, AAE-1, AAG and the TGN-IA submarine cable system providing connectivity to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) (2020)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
general assessment: the government relies on a radiotelephone network to communicate with remote areas; the regulatory reform is below industry standards but is trying to strengthen its telecommunication infrastructure and subsequently attract foreign investment; low fixed-broadband penetration due to dominance of mobile platforms; strong boost in mobile broadband penetration but still low compared to other Asian markets; mobile sector growth held back by regulators trying to keep hold on pricing and open competition; development of mobile broadband Internet services given the expansion of 4G services (2020)
domestic: fixed-line 21 per 100 and 61 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions (2019)
international: country code - 856; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) and a second to be developed by China
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
Broadband - fixed subscriptions
total: 12,994,451
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2018 est.)
total: 45,379
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 less than 1 (2018 est.)
Broadcast media
government 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 several channels with 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 several channels and is repeated on AM, FM, and shortwave stations throughout Vietnam (2018)
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

Transportation

VietnamLaos
Roadways
total: 195,468 km (2013)
paved: 148,338 km (2013)
unpaved: 47,130 km (2013)
total: 39,586 km (2009)
paved: 5,415 km (2009)
unpaved: 34,171 km (2009)
Waterways
47,130 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)
Pipelines
72 km condensate, 398 km condensate/gas, 955 km gas, 128 km oil, 33 km oil/gas/water, 206 km refined products, 13 km water (2013)
540 km refined products (2013)
Merchant marine
total: 1,863
by type: bulk carrier 83, container ship 38, general cargo 1266, oil tanker 114, other 362 (2018)
total: 1
by type: general cargo 1 (2019)
Airports
total: 45 (2013)
total: 41 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways
total: 38 (2013)
over 3,047 m: 10 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2013)
total: 8 (2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)
Airports - with unpaved runways
total: 7 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2013)
under 914 m: 3 (2013)
total: 33 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2013)
under 914 m: 22 (2013)
National air transport system
number of registered air carriers: 5 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 224
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 47,049,671 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 481.37 million mt-km (2018)
number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 12
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,251,961 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1.53 million mt-km (2018)
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix
VN (2016)
RDPL (2016)

Military

VietnamLaos
Military branches
People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN): PAVN Ground Forces, PAVN Navy (includes naval infantry), PAVN Air Force and Air Defense, Border Defense Force, and Vietnam Coast Guard; Vietnam People's Public Security; Vietnam Civil Defense Force (2019)
Lao People's Armed Forces (LPAF): Lao People's Army (LPA, includes Riverine Force), Air Force, Self-Defense Militia Forces (2019)
Military service age and obligation
18-27 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service (females eligible for conscription, but in practice only males are drafted); conscription typically takes place twice annually and service obligation is 2 years (Army, Air Defense) and 3 years (Navy and Air Force) (2019)
18 years of age for compulsory or voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - minimum 18 months (2019)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP
2.3% of GDP (2018)
2.3% of GDP (2017)
2.5% of GDP (2016)
2.4% of GDP (2015)
2.3% of GDP (2014)
0.2% of GDP (2013)
0.2% of GDP (2012)
0.2% of GDP (2011)
note: no public figures available for 2014-2019

Transnational Issues

VietnamLaos
Disputes - international

southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of Asian swine fever; 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" eased tensions but differences between the parties negotiating the Code of Conduct continue; 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; in May 2018, Russia’s RosneftVietnam unit started drilling at a block southeast of Vietnam which is within the area outlined by China’s nine-dash line and Beijing issued a warning

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 drugs
minor 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 2015 was estimated to be 5,700 hectares, compared with 6,200 hectares in 2014; estimated potential production of between 84 and 176 mt of raw opium; unsubstantiated reports of domestic methamphetamine production; growing domestic methamphetamine problem

Source: CIA Factbook