In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government, ending a six-century-old monarchy. Initial closer ties to Vietnam and socialization were replaced with a gradual return to private enterprise, a liberalization of foreign investment laws, and the admission into ASEAN in 1997.

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Surface Area: 236,800 square km
Population: 6,068,118 (July 2004 est.)
Located in: Southeastern Asia
Capital City: Vientiane
Head of State: Gen. KHAMTAI Siphandon
Prime Minister: BOUNGNANG Volachit
Independent since: 19 July 1949 (from France)
Currency: Kip (LAK)
Flag (image):