Laos. As the first US Secretary of State in 57 years, Hillary Clinton visited Laos in July. The legacy of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s was discussed, as was a disputed power dam construction in the Southeast Asian country (see below). The United States made extensive bombings across northern Laos during the war against Vietnam in an attempt to cut off the Vietnamese Communist guerrilla supply lines that passed through the northern part of Laos. There, moreover, a domestic communist guerilla had grown strong. The same guerrilla later took power in Laos in a 1975 coup.
In November, the Lao government gave green light to the construction of the disputed power plant dam at Xayaburi adjacent to the Mekong River. The plans had previously provoked protests from mainly environmental movements, but also from neighboring countries Vietnam and Cambodia, which are further downstream in the important Mekong race.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for Lao. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
In February 1993, the Supreme People’s Assembly met and appointed Nuhak Fumsavanh as Republican President and PPRL leader, Khamtay Sifandon as Prime Minister.
The country maintained its closed political system while capitalist-oriented economic reforms continued. In 1993, three former ministers remained in prison. In 1990, they had proposed the implementation of democratic reforms. In return, Prince Suvana Fuma was allowed to enter the country as a representative of foreign companies.
By the 1980s, annual inflation had reached 46%. Under IMF supervision it was now reduced to 10%. Gross domestic product increased 7%.
US state aid agency AID granted a $ 9.7 million loan to improve infrastructure in various parts of the country, arguing that improved access to markets would improve living conditions.
Forestry has become a major problem in the country. By 1964, 6,000 m 3 had been felled. By 1993, the figure had risen to 600,000 m 3. The same year, the government imposed export restrictions. Instead, illegal forestry, which in 1993 accounted for about half of total forestry, increased. In March 1994, the World Bank initially granted Laos $ 8.7 million to plant new forests.
Several international environmental organizations sharply criticized the project, which relied on direct funding from the central government, without contact with the local authorities, who thus had no security to participate in the project. The organizations also criticized the great emphasis placed on planting trees for commercial exploitation. A development that would further jeopardize the forests and their inhabitants.
On April 6, 1994, the “Friendship Bridge” was opened across the Mekong River between Thailand and Laos. The project was an expression of reconciliation between the two countries, and that Laos withdrew from Vietnam and approached closer economic and cultural cooperation with Thailand, which was a richer country.
In a short time, Thai banks, media, transport companies and factories came to dominate the economic investment in Laos, which was increasingly deprived of its socialist principles. In March, a law was passed that removed the remnants of planning economics. Another law guaranteed professional rights and updated the regulation of professional activity. Yet the government was determined to preserve its communist identity.
In mid-1995, Laos expressed its desire to become a full member of the Southeast Asian Cooperation Organization (ASEAN) within a two-year period. The opening to foreign countries was also reflected in the ratification of a border agreement with Myanmar. At the same time, the United States lifted its blockade of the country that had continued since the end of the Vietnam War and which had limited the financial assistance of the superpower.
In March 1996, Prime Minister Siphandon reaffirmed the PPRL’s status as the country’s only legal party at its 6th congress, while emphasizing liberalization, efficiency and economic growth.
At the December 1997 parliamentary elections, PPRL maintained its dominance as 99 MPs were elected. The election results were not surprising, as only 4 of the 159 candidates stood outside the unit party.
The stock market crisis affecting several of the countries in the region also had downsides in Laos, although the scale was smaller than in Thailand and Malaysia. The main impacts were price increases on imported goods and basic consumer goods such as food.
According to countryaah, the population of Laos in 2012 was 6,741,053, ranking number 106 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.530% yearly, and the population density was 29.2078 people per km2.