Exploring Fascinating Insights into Laos, ASEAN's 2024 Chair

Exploring Fascinating Insights into Laos, ASEAN's 2024 Chair
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This year marks the third time that Laos will chair ASEAN. Laos officially took over the chairmanship of ASEAN from Indonesia at the closing of the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. This handover means that Laos, or the Lao People's Democratic Republic, will hold the position of ASEAN chair for the year 2024.

While Indonesia's previous ASEAN chairmanship focused on the theme "ASEAN Matters: Epicenter of Growth," Laos' leadership in ASEAN 2024 will emphasize the theme of "Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience." This theme aligns with Laos' commitment to building and achieving a more connected and resilient ASEAN.

As the ASEAN Chair in 2024, Laos brings some interesting facts that are less known to many. What makes it so interesting?

1. Socialist Republic Governance

Laos, which officially became an ASEAN member on July 23, 1997, stands out as one of the Southeast Asian countries with a one-party socialist republican system. In this system, the president serves as the head of state while the government is administered by the prime minister.

2. Experience as ASEAN Chair

Laos will chair ASEAN for the third time in 2024. Previously, Laos chaired ASEAN in 2004 and 2016. This reflects the country's significant role and contributions to regional dynamics and ASEAN diplomacy.

3. Landlocked country

Laos stands out as the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. In other words, Laos is entirely landlocked. This characteristic earns Laos the nickname of "landlocked country" due to its position surrounded by five major countries: Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam. As a result, Laos has no direct access to maritime waters.

4. Impressive economic growth

Despite being landlocked and without maritime access, Laos maintains its status as one of the ASEAN member states with impressive economic growth. According to CNBC Indonesia, Laos has the highest annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth among Southeast Asian countries. Its economic success is proof that Laos can overcome its maritime access limitations and make significant progress.

5. Diverse Export Commodities

Another interesting fact about Laos is the diversity of its export commodities. Laos sends a variety of agricultural products, mining products (including copper), gold, finished garments, electricity, and timber and timber products to the international market. Thailand, China, and Vietnam serve as the main import partners for Laos' commodities.

6. "Land of a Million Elephants"

Laos is known as the "Land of a Million Elephants". This nickname refers to the origin of the word Laos, which is derived from the term Lan Xang, which means elephants. Interestingly, in the eyes of the Lao people, elephants are a symbol of abundance and prosperity.

7. "Battery of Southeast Asia"

In addition to being nicknamed the "Land of a Million Elephants", Laos is also known as the "Battery of Southeast Asia". The government of Laos has significant ambitions to position the country as the "Battery of Southeast Asia" or "Powerhouse", serving as the primary energy source in the Southeast Asian region by maximizing its extraordinary hydropower potential. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines in Laos, the country has developed 94 power plants, including 81 hydropower plants, with a total installed capacity of more than 11,600 MW. The total energy output is expected to reach 27,024 GWh. In an effort to achieve its ambitious goals, Laos aims to export approximately 14,600 MW to neighboring countries by 2025.

8. Diverse languages

Although Lao is the official language of the country, Thai is also used in everyday conversation. Some Lao people also use English and French in their daily lives.

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