The Lao flag was first used by anticolonialist forces from the mid-20th century. The white disk honored the Japanese who had supported the Lao independence movement, but it also symbolized a bright future. Red was said to stand for the blood of patriots and blue was for the promise of future prosperity. The flag was adopted on Dec. 2, 1975.
Official name: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxôn Lao (Lao People's Democratic Republic).
Form of government: unitary single-party people's republic with one legislative house (National Assembly ).
Chief of state: President.
Head of government: Prime Minister.
Population (1998): 5,261,000.
Population projection: (2000) 5,557,000; (2010) 7,168,000.
Natural increase rate per 1,000 population (1997): 30.6 (world avg. 15.7).
Gross national product (1996): U.S.$1,895,000,000 (U.S.$400 per capita).
Land use (1994): forested 54.4%; meadows and pastures 3.5%; agricultural and under permanent cultivation 3.9%; other 38.2%.