Lao People and Laos

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Laos

Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia which originates from the ancient 14th century kingdom of Lang Xang. Since the fall of the Lang Xang Kingdom, Laos has continually been under control of outside forces. Historically Laos has not been given the chance to grow and prosper as an individual country. After Laos was granted sovereignty in 1953 the neutral country was caught up in the Vietnam War until 1975 and suffered from devastating air strikes and bomb drops. In 1975, Laos was taken under control by the communist party Pathet Lao, forming the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao history). Finally under its own control, the people’s democratic republic of Laos now has the chance to grow and prosper. Laos’ GDP experienced substantial growth rates during the years after the Vietnam War, peaking at fifteen percent in 1981. This has since settled down to an average of six percent throughout the nineties and the twenty first century. With this continual growth in GDP, the purchasing-power-parity per capita GDP was able to continuously increase. Per capita GDP grew from 362 international dollars in 1980 to over two thousand international dollars in 2009 (Graph 1). But often during growth, the data is skewed as the rich become richer and the poor stay poor. This happened to Laos, and can be seen by looking at the income inequality in Laos as shown by the Gini coefficient. From 1992-93 the coefficient was 28.6. Five years later from 1997-98 the coefficient was 35.7. This is a 4.4 percent growth rate in the coefficient, caused from the first four quintiles losing their portion of the income, and the top quintile experiencing a 2.9 percent growth (Lengsavad, 2000). Over 6.5 million people live in Laos. According to the Social and Economic Developers Association of Laos, seventy-nine per cent of the population lives in rural mountainous and river regions, with the only twenty-one per cent living in urban areas. Officially, “Poverty is the lack...
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