Laos. At the end of October, power began to be delivered from the Xayaburi power plant project, one of five planned major power plants in the Mekong River in Laos. The Thai-owned power plant, which cost $ 4.4 billion, began to be built in 2012. As a result of drought and other dam construction, the flow of the Mekong River decreased sharply downstream. See themakeupexplorer.com for trips to Laos.
Laos plans to expand hydropower and become Southeast Asia’s “battery” and export electric power to neighboring China, Thailand and Vietnam. Environmental organizations warn of the investments, which risk knocking out fisheries and ecosystems, while large population groups are forced to relocate.
Agriculture and development expert Sombath Somphone’s fate remained unknown. He disappeared in December 2012. He had questioned the dust projects and the acquisition of poor farmers’ land.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of LAO in general and in geography as Laos in particular.
Floods caused by the monsoon rains and a severe tropical storm in September affected over half a million people in southern Laos. At least 20 fatalities were reported. High water levels made it difficult to get emergency relief.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Laos in 2019 was 7,169,344, ranking number 105 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.530% yearly, and the population density was 31.0635 people per km2.
Laos remains the least densely populated country in South-East Asia, despite its demographic dynamics characterized by a high growth rate, which has remained unchanged in recent decades: the population has increased from 3. 585,000 residents of the 1985 census at 4. 581. 258 of that of 1995, to reach 5,163,000 residents according to a 1998 estimate. The distribution of the population is very irregular: in northern Laos, mountainous and with vast uninhabited areas, there are the lowest densities (2 ÷ 3 residents/km ²), while along the course of the Mekong there are the greatest densities, which are around 50 residents / km ².
The country’s largest urban, economic and industrial concentration is the capital, Vientiane, which had 528 at the 1995 census. 100 pop. (531,800 according to a 1996 estimate). The only other cities of some significance are Luang-Prabang, Savannakhet and Paksé, all lined up in the Mekong Valley, but none of them reach 100. 000 residents.
Despite an average annual growth rate of 6 % in GDP since the beginning of the 1990s, Laos is confirmed as one of the least developed states in the Indochinese region; moreover, according to international estimates, half of its residents still live below the poverty line. After the partial abandonment of the socialist economy at the end of the 1980s, a series of reforms favored the privatization of numerous sectors, thus encouraging foreign investment. To free itself from underdevelopment, the country has focused on the exploitation of its natural resources and on the creation of new transport and communication infrastructures: the financial needs for the realization of these objectives have been assessed in 1.5 billions of dollars for the five-year period ending in 2000. Starting from the mid-1990s, the first progress was made, including, in addition to the aforementioned GDP growth, the control of inflation (which however remains high) and the maintenance of the balance of payments deficit at a tolerable level (12 % of GDP). This favorable evolution, as well as the relaxation of relations with neighboring Thailand, brought Laos closer to ASEAN (Association of South-East Asia Nations), of which the country joined in 1997.
As for the different productive sectors, agriculture continues to be the mainstay of the economy of Laos, despite the cultivated area represents only 3, 8 % of the territory; moreover, according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, the contribution to GDP of the sector increased by an average of 6 % per year between 1990 and 1995. The traditional culture par excellence is rice, which occupies 77 % dell’arativo: its production increases with the progress of the privatization of land (from 1 million tonnes in 1988 to 1, 6 million in 1998), but yields still remain low (2700 kg / ha in 1998 against a world average of 3747 kg / ha). Valuable crops such as vegetables, coffee, tobacco and sesame are on the rise. Breeding mainly involves pigs and buffaloes, the latter also employed in rural work. The exploitation of precious wood is another important resource of the country, but indiscriminate cutting is dangerously depleting the forests, which fell from 55 % of the total area in 1991 to 45 % in 1998.
Electricity represents another important resource of the country: Laos has an installed power of 256. 000 million kW (and a production of 905 million kWh, of which 862 million of water), and has a capacity of 10 million kW of hydroelectric potential, i.e. over 40 times higher than that currently exploited and translated into energy. A large part of the water energy, produced thanks to the numerous and large barriers on the waterways, is sold to neighboring Thailand. Apart from some plants for the processing of tobacco, cement and wood, the industry is very little developed and aimed at the internal market; the only sector with some development prospects is the textile sector, whose products are destined for export.
The main communications always take place by water: in April 1994 a bridge over the Mekong (the country’s vital artery) was inaugurated, near Vientiane, which connects the road networks of Laos and Thailand.