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Basic Indicators

Source: UNICEF: The State of the World's Children Report

Population: 6,320,0000 (2009)
National language: Lao
Per capita income: US$ 880/year (2009)
Life expectancy: 65 (2009)
% of population using
improved drinking water sources:
57% (2008)
% of population using
adequate sanitation facilities:
53% (2008)
Under 5 Mortality Rate: 59/1,000 live births (2009)

Sponsor a child today! Laos, one of the world's few remaining communist states, is one of Southeast Asia's poorest and least developed countries. Slightly larger than Utah, it is also one of the few landlocked countries in Asia, with a landscape dominated by rivers and mountains.

Agriculture, mostly subsistence rice farming, accounts for about half the country’s economy and employs about 75 percent of the workforce. Tourism in Laos has grown rapidly and is now the second largest sector.

About half the country's people are ethnic Lao, the principal lowland inhabitants as well as the politically and culturally dominant group. Ethnic minorities predominate in the highlands, where there is more poverty, worse health indicators and fewer services available. Ethnic diversity in Laos presents a major challenge in health care delivery and education due to cultural and linguistic barriers.

Plan opened its Laos office in the capital, Vientiane, in November 2006. We work with communities and government education services to provide children with high quality, stimulating preschool and primary education. Plan aims to serve the poorest areas of the country. Of Laos' 142 Districts, 47 are officially designated as “poorest” and these are almost all in mountainous areas, with very difficult communications.

Except in emergency situations, Plan does not provide direct assistance. Instead, we help communities develop, grow and, ultimately, support themselves.


Hear from the children

An essential part of Plan's work is empowering children to discuss the issues that matter to them and to take part in decisions that affect their lives. To help you learn about these issues, the children in Plan communities have put together a series of publications called "See Our World": Read what the children have to say about their lives.