Laos is a dirt poor country[note 1] in Southeast Asia. Laos is a one-party communist republic, effectively a dictatorship and an oligarchy, and 80% of the population consists of subsistence farmers. The country's primary sources of income are mining and hydroelectric power. As is typical of communist countries, the press is government-run. The economy has been growing rapidly since decentralization in 1986, enough that they opened a stock exchange in 2011.
Relations with other countries
In the early 1960s, the United States recruited Hmong people to battle communist non-Hmong peasants. Then, from 1964 to 1973, as part of the Vietnam War, bombed known and suspected locations of the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail, a supply line from North Vietnam going through Western Laos and Cambodia into South Vietnam. The communists won the civil war anyway in 1975 and extirpated the monarchy. Many Hmong now live in the United States, since their involvement on its behalf against the communists has, shall we say, made them unpopular with the government.