Factsheet on Laos Population: 6.8 million Independence date: July 19th, 1949 (from

Factsheet on Laos

Population: 6.8 million

Independence date: July 19th, 1949 (from France)

Languages: Lao, French, English

Under 5 mortality rates: 61 out of every 1000 births (US = 6 out of every 1000)

Maternal mortality rate: 580 out of every 1000 births (US = 14 out of every 1000)

Buddhism arrived in the 13th century

American intervention in Laos (and the aftermath): The United States established full diplomatic relations with Laos in 1955, following its independence from France in 1954. Within a few years, Laos entered into civil war, and the United States supported the country’s royal government. For nearly a decade beginning in 1964, Laos was subjected to heavy U.S. bombing as part of the wider war in Indochina (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos). This was often viewed as a proxy war with the Soviet bloc.
Over two million tons of explosives were dropped by the Americans in a secret war in Laos between 1964 and 1973, leaving it as one of the most contaminated unexploded ordnance (UXO) countries in the world. An estimated 30 percent of the 270 million sub-munitions dropped on the country did not detonate. Undetonated bombs have killed or maimed as many as 55,000 civilians in Laos since 1964 (and 25,000 since 1973, after the war ended). About 60% of accidents result in death, and 40% of the victims are children. 
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Laos sought to improve relations with other countries. Full U.S.-Lao diplomatic relations were restored in 1992. In July 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Laos, marking the first visit by a Secretary of State in the modern era. President Obama became the first U.S. President to visit Laos in September 2016, when he and Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit announced a Comprehensive Partnership.
Accounting for American personnel missing in Laos and clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the war was the initial focus of the post-war relationship. US support to Laos has averaged $1-2 million per year. in stark contrast to the $13.3 million a day (in 2013 dollars), or $44 billion in total that the U.S. spent bombing Laos over a 9 year period. President Obama announced $90 million in UXO funding over three years during his visit. This funding has since been cut.

On Cluster Bombs: Cluster bombs are designed as anti-personnel, anti-armor weapons, but the primary victims have been innocent civilians. More than 98% of known cluster bomb victims are civilians and 40% are children, who are drawn to the small, toy-like metal objects. Cluster bomb casings release hundreds of bomblets—the size of a soup can or orange—over wide areas, frequently missing intended military targets and killing nearby civilians. Commonly used cluster bombs are designed to explode into hundreds of pieces of razor-sharp shrapnel that rip through bodies. Anywhere from 2% to 30% of modern cluster munitions do not detonate upon impact, leaving a deadly hazard for years to come.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions – prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. The international agreement, signed by 111 nations entered into force on August 1st, 2010. The U.S. has not signed the treaty. Every year since 2008, bills have been introduced in Congress to eliminate the use of cluster bombs. In each case, they have been prevented a vote on the floor. Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden have threatened to veto any legislation that does pass.

Recent use of Cluster Bombs:

2013 Syrian government used them against rebels
2009 – 2019 United States used cluster bombs in Yemen (quantity unknown)
2008 Russia in the South Ossetia conflict
2006 Israel dropped 4 million in Lebanon
2003 – 2013 United States dropped 2 million in Iraq
2001 – 2013 United States dropped 500,000 in Afghanistan

Questions for Laos:

1. As you watch, list 3 interesting facts:




2. Why were the French in Laos? Why did they leave?

3. Who has been most impacted by the American war in Laos? How?

4. What should be done to help the people of Laos? Who should help? Why?