Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) is a land-locked country bordering Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. About 7.5 million people live in its 18 provinces, with most people – 67 percent – still living in rural areas. However, urbanization is occurring at a rate of 4.9 percent each year. The country is largely mountainous (about 70%), with the most fertile land found along the Mekong plains. The river flows from north to south, forming the border with Thailand for more than 60 percent of its length. Despite being landlocked, Lao PDR has the highest per capita water supply in Asia.
Lao PDR follows a communist one-party system. The Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP), through its powerful 11-member Politburo and the 69-member Central Committee, is responsible for setting broad policy guidelines, while the government manages the day-to-day administration. Important government decisions are vetted by Politburo. The present Lao Constitution was promulgated on 15 August 1991. The Head of State is the President, who normally is also the General Secretary of LPRP. Prime Minister heads the Government.
The economy of Laos is essentially a free market system with active central planning by the government. It is based on natural resources exports in hydropower, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction. The majority of employment is dependent on agriculture especially rice cultivation. Natural resources comprise forests, agricultural land, hydropower, mineral deposits –tin, lead, gravel, gypsum, and salt, smaller deposits of coal, iron ore, and gold. The major exports from Lao PDR include copper, gold, timber, garments, electricity, coffee, cassava, rice, bananas, etc. Major imports to Lao PDR comprise capital goods, machinery, and equipment, vehicles, fuel, consumer goods, etc.
India is ranked as No. 14th amongst the countries that have invested in Laos. Major items of exports from India to Laos are Parts of generators, hydraulic turbines including regulators, Motor car, AC generators, Generating sets with a diesel engine, Overhead traveling cranes, medicine and vaccine, Boneless meat of bovine animals frozen. Major items of Imports from Laos to India are Gold, processed wood – veneer/ plywoods, non-processed coffee, furniture, etc.
Conservation and Restoration of Vat Phou: A team from ASI is assisting in the restoration of the UNESCO world heritage site at Vat Phou, an ancient Khmer Shiva Temple in two phases (2009-17) and (2018-28). Eight seasons of restoration work in Phase-I were completed in May 2017. As per ASI, restoration work of the Northern Quadrangle of the Vat Phou premises is complete. Phase-II of the Project commenced in November 2018. The second season of Phase- II of restoration of Vat Phou was completed in July 2020. Photographs attached.
VVIP visit: (a) Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Vientiane (Laos) from 07-08 September 2016 to attend the 14ASEAN-India Summit and the 11East Asia Summit.
(b) Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of Lao PDR visited New Delhi in January 2018 to attend the ASEAN India Commemorative Summit.