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Laos, Population and Society

Laos has a population of 5,777,180 (2002 estimate), yielding a population density of 24 people per sq km (63 per sq mi). The population is increasing rapidly at a rate of 2.47 percent per year. Births, at 37 per 1,000, significantly exceed deaths, at 13 per 1,000, while life expectancy at birth is 54 years. These trends have created a youthful nation: More than 45 percent of Laosís people are under the age of 15. If the current rate of growth continues, Laos will have a population of nearly 10 million by the year 2025. About one-quarter of Laosís people live in mountainous regions. The rest live in upland valleys or on the flood plains of the Mekong and its tributaries. Just over three-quarters of the population live in rural areas, although the proportion of people living in urban areas is steadily increasing.

Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos. Louangphrabang, the former royal capital, is an increasingly popular tourist destination. Other major cities are the regional capitals of Savannakhet in central Laos and Pakxe in the south.

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