Our Work in Laos
Laos is an ethnically diverse country with approximately 6.5 million people comprised of 49 different ethnic groups. It was colonized by France in the early 1900s, but in 1954, the Vietnamese defeated the French, granting Laos full sovereignty from French rule. Unfortunately, during the next two decades Laos experienced political upheaval and much war, including the Second Indochina War (1954 to 1975). With the fall of Phnom Penh and Saigon to communist forces in 1975, the unstable Laos government gave way to the communist Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The new regime imposed strict security measures and established a harsh Soviet-style system, which caused 10% of the population to flee the country.
The Laos economy has struggled, as well. Laos has been plagued by inadequate infrastructure and underdeveloped human resources throughout much of its existence, which has caused widespread poverty throughout much of the country.