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The July 2012 visit of United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was initially hailed as something of a positive landmark in Laos relations with the US. Memories of non-stop American bombing during the Vietnam war are surprisingly fresh – not least because of the thousands of unexploded US bombs which still infest the Laos countryside. However, Mrs Clinton’s visit  saw renewed calls for the immediate release of detainees at the infamous Somsanga drug detention centre. Human Rights Watch (HRW) demanded that the US government should stop all funding and other support to the centre until the Lao government conducted an investigation into human rights abuses at the centre and took steps to prevent future abuses against those held there, including children. According to HRW both the Lao government and the US State Department claim that Somsanga is a modern healthcare centre, ‘but a decade of US funding hasn’t changed the fact that it’s a brutal and inhumane detention centre where the Lao government puts ‘undesirable’ people.

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- Timeline

- Political structure

- Population,

- Education  

- Health

- Welfare

- Main cities

- Languages spoken

- Media

- Economy

- Agriculture

- Industry and manufacturing

- Tourism

- Mining,

- Hydrocarbons

- Energy

- Financial markets

- Banking and insurance

- Time

- Geography

- Climate

- Dress codes

- Entry requirements

- Health (for visitors)

- Hotels

- Credit cards

- Public holidays

- Working hours

- Telecommunications

- Electricity

- Social customs and useful tips

- Security

- Getting there

- Getting about

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Key Facts

Key Facts:

Key Facts
Official name: Saathiaranarath Prachhathipatay Prachhachhon Lao (Lao People's Democratic Republic)
Head of State: President Lt. Gen. Choummaly Sayasone (since Jun 2006; re-elected 15 Jun 2011)
Head of government: Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong (from 23 Dec 2010; re-elected 15 Jun 2011)
Ruling party: Phak Paxaxôn Pativat Lao (Lao People's Revolutionary Party) (LPRP) (since 1975; re-elected 30 April 2011)
Area: 236,800 square km
Population: 6.90 million (2014)*
Capital: Vientiane
Official language: Lao (English is the business language of the Lao government)
Currency: New kip (Nk) = 100 at
Exchange rate: Nk8,160.00 per US$ (Sep 2015)
GDP per capita: US$1,693 (2014)*
GDP real growth: 7.41% (2014)*
GDP: US$11.68 billion (2014)*
Inflation: 4.13% (2014)*
Balance of trade: -US$755.80 million (2013)
* estimated figure

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