Laos received the baton of ASEAN Chairmanship from Indonesia at the closing of the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. The baton handover indicates that Laos or the Lao People's Democratic Republic will become Chair of ASEAN 2024.
If Indonesia's Chairmanship in ASEAN carries the theme "ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth", Laos' Chairmanship in ASEAN 2024 will have the theme "Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience". This theme aligns with Laos' promise to build and achieve a more connected and resilient ASEAN.
Laos' Chairmanship period in ASEAN will focus further on the ASEAN community and creating opportunities in facing geopolitical and geo-economic challenges and changes. Then, Laos will develop a regional architecture for stability, peace, and development in the ASEAN region.
As Chair of ASEAN 2024, there are many interesting facts about Laos that most people still rarely know. What are they?
Adhering to the Socialist Republican System
Laos officially became a member of ASEAN on July 23, 1997. Laos is a country in Southeast Asia that adheres to a one-party socialist republic system as a form of government. It means the president is the head of state, while the prime minister governs the government. In 2024, it will be the third time for Laos to be Chair of ASEAN. Previously, Laos held the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2004 and 2016.
Country without Sea
Laos is the only country in Southeast Asia that does not have a sea. In other words, Laos only consists of land. It makes Laos nicknamed "Landlocked Country". Laos does not have a sea because of its position between five major countries: Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Myanmar (Burma region), Thailand, and Vietnam. This is what makes Laos have no access to water at all.
Rapid Economic Growth
Even though it has no water and is landlocked, Laos is still one of the ASEAN member countries with rapid economic growth. According to CNBC Indonesia, Laos has the highest annual GDP growth among other countries in Southeast Asia.
Another interesting fact about Laos can be seen from its export commodities. Laos exports agricultural, mining (including copper), gold, garments, electricity, and wood products. The leading importers of Laos commodities are Thailand, China, and Vietnam.
Nicknamed the "Country of a Million Elephants"
Laos is nicknamed the Land of a Million Elephants. This nickname comes from the country's name, Laos, derived from the word "Lan Xang" (elephant). Interestingly, Lao people also consider elephants to be animals that bring prosperity.