LAOS: The World’s Most Heavily-Bombed Country

LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC (LAOS)                                 

Population: 6.59 million

More than 60 % of its population is under 24 years of age.

Fertility Rate:  6 children/woman (1970s) vs. 2.7 children/woman (2010)

Life Expectancy:  46 years (1970s) vs. 67 years (2010)

Infant mortality:  57.77 deaths / 1000 live births

Male/Female Ratio:  0.98 male  / female

Major Religions:  Buddhism, Animism 

– Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in the history of the world.  It also suffers the worst contamination from unexploded submunitions.  On average, Laos was hit with one B-52 bomb every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day for 9 years during the Vietnam War.   Between 1964 and 1973, the United States dropped 270 million cluster munitions over Laos, despite the fact that the country was not part of the conflict.  

 – An estimated 80 million cluster munitions did not explode on impact and currently lie dormant in rice fields, waterways and on roads, posing a daily threat to the lives of civilians. Over the last 50 years or so, more than 50,000 people have been killed or injured in accidents involving explosive remnants of war, half of whom have died in peace time. Most of the victims are children. 

 – Approximately 25 percent of all villages suffer from various degrees of UXO contamination.  Unexploded ordnance, or UXOs, are explosive weapons that did not explode when they were employed and still pose a risk of detonation, potentially many decades after they were used or discarded.   More than 200,000 hectares of prime agricultural land still have to be cleared of these UXOs.

– Two mothers and 20 newborn babies die everyday in Laos.  The country has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality in the world.  About 80 per cent of births take place outside of a hospital environment and many are assisted only by untrained birthing assistants.

 – Half of the children under 5 years old are stunted.  37% of children are underweight and have chronic malnutrition.

 – About 38% of women give birth before the age of 18 and contraceptive prevalence is at 35%.

 – The first gay pride event was held in June 2012.



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