|Official Country Name:||Lao People's Democratic Republic|
|Region (Map name):||Southeast Asia|
|Language(s):||Lao, French, English,|
Laos, located in Southeast Asia northeast of Thailand and west of Vietnam, was settled between the fourth and eighth centuries and was known as the Lane Xang, or Million Elephants Kingdom. The French took control of the government in 1893—Europeans had been trading with Laos for more than 200 years—but the monarchy continued until Communists took control of the government and deposed the monarch in 1975. The state is headed by a President, who appoints a Prime Minister to preside over the unicameral, 99-seat National Assembly. The official language is Lao, but French is used in diplomacy and English and ethnic languages are also spoken. The approximate population is approximately 5.6 million, and the literacy rate is only 57 percent. Laos is a land-locked country with a primitive infrastructure. Its economy is dominated by fishing, forestry, and agriculture.
Because Laos is a Communist country, the government owns and supervises all media outlets, and it considers the role of the media to be furthering the national political agenda. Laos supports two daily newspapers, both of which are written in Lao. Pasason ("The People") is the national newspaper. Its approximate circulation is 10,000. The country's second daily, Vientiane Mai ("Vientiane Message"), predominantly serves the capital, Vientiane, and its circulation is approximately 5,000. Enjoying much smaller circulations are the Vientiane Times, a bi-weekly English-language newspaper, Vientiane Business-Social, a weekly English-language newspaper, and Le Rénovateur, a weekly newspaper published in French. Pasason Van Athit publishes every Sunday. The government also issues weekly and monthly publications sponsored by various government branches like the army and the Education Ministry.
There are 13 radio stations, 12 AM and one FM, for 730,000 radios. Two national television stations broadcast to 52,000 televisions. There is one Internet service provider.
"Laos." CIA World Fact Book . Directorate of Intelligence, 2001. Available from http://www.cia.gov .
"Mass Media News Organization," Lao News Agency, n.d. Available from http://asean.kplnet.net .
Jenny B. Davis