Provinces of Laos

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Updates: 

Sorin Cosoveanu informs me that Xaisômboun is being reinstated as a province. The National Assembly approved this move on 2013-12-16, and it was implemented at the end of 2013.

Update 7 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS standard 10-4, was issued with the date 2012-02-01. It removes Xaisômboun and changes the spelling of Xiangkhoang to Xiangkhouang.

Xaisômboun special region was created in 1994-06. Change Notice 1 to FIPS PUB 10-4, dated 1998-12-01, lists a division of Laos into 16 provinces, one city, and one special zone. ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. It showed Xaisômboun special region, but called it a province. This error was corrected in ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-4, dated 2002-12-10. Xaisômboun special region was dissolved on 2006-01-13.

Erratum: "Administrative Subdivisions of Countries" says that Luang Prabang is the capital of Laos. It should be Vientiane. I don't know where the error originated. Source [7] says that the "administrative seat moved from Louangphrabang to Vientiane c. 1563 due to hostilities with Burmese and Thais". The Statesman's Year-Book (1959 edition) said that Luang Prabang was currently the royal capital, and Vientiane, the administrative capital.

Country overview: 

Short nameLAOS
ISO codeLA
FIPS codeLA
LanguageLao (lo), French (fr)
Time zone+7
CapitalVientiane

 

Laos was a French colony at the start of the 20th century. It was a union of two former kingdoms, Luang Prabang and Vientiane. The French administered it as a territory within the protectorate of French Indo-China. After World War II, French Indo-China was divided up into three independent countries within the French Union: Cambodia, Laos (independent on 1949-07-19), and Vietnam. See Cambodia for related information.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Laos
  2. Dutch: Laos, Lao Democratische Volksrepubliek (formal)
  3. English: Lao People's Democratic Republic (formal), Lanxang (obsolete)
  4. Finnish: Laos
  5. French: Laos m, République f démocratique populaire Lao
  6. German: Laos, Demokratische Volksrepublik f Laos n
  7. Italian: Laos m
  8. Lao: Saathiaranarath Prachhathipatay Prachhachhon Lao (formal)
  9. Norwegian: Den demokratiske folkerepublikk Laos (formal) (Bokmål), Den demokratiske folkerepublikken Laos (formal) (Nynorsk), Laos
  10. Portuguese: Laos m, República f Popular Democrática Lao (formal)
  11. Russian: Лаос, Лаосская Народно-Демократическая Республика (formal)
  12. Spanish: Laos, República f Democrática Popular Lao (formal)
  13. Swedish: Laos
  14. Turkish: Laos Demokratik Halk Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

ethnic name Lao, applied by Portuguese explorers in the plural

Primary subdivisions: 

Laos is divided into seventeen khoueng (provinces) and one kampeng nakhon (municipality or prefecture).

ProvinceHASCISOFIPSPcPopulationArea(km.²)Area(mi.²)Capital
AttapuLA.ATATLA0118112,09710,3203,985Attapu (Muang Samakhisai)
BokeoLA.BKBKLA2205145,2164,9701,919Ban Houayxay
BolikhamxaiLA.BLBLLA2311225,27216,4706,359Muang Pakxan
ChampasakLA.CHCHLA0216607,33315,4155,952Pakxé
HouaphanLA.HOHOLA0307280,89816,5006,371Sam Neua
KhammouanLA.KHKHLA1512337,31416,3156,299Thakhek (Muang Khammouan)
Louang NamthaLA.LMLMLA1603145,2899,3253,600Louang Namtha
LouangphrabangLA.LPLPLA1706407,01216,8756,515Louangphrabang
OudômxaiLA.OUOULA0704265,12815,3705,934Muang Xay
PhôngsaliLA.PHPHLA1802165,92616,2706,282Phôngsali
SaravanLA.SLSLLA1914324,30310,3854,009Saravan
SavannakhétLA.SVSVLA2013825,87922,0808,525Savannakhét (Muang Khanthabouly)
VientianeLA.VIVILA2710388,83319,9907,718Muang Phôn-Hông
Vientiane [prefecture]LA.VTVTLA2401698,2543,9201,514Vientiane
XaignabouriLA.XAXALA1308338,64611,7954,554Muang Xayabury
XaisômbounLA.XS39,416 Ban Mouang Cha
XékongLA.XEXELA261784,9857,6652,959Ban Phone (Muang Laman)
XiangkhoangLA.XIXILA1409229,52117,3156,685Phônsavan
18 divisions5,621,322230,98089,182
  • Province: Vientiane [prefecture] is a municipality.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Province codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a global context, prefix "LA-"
    to the code (ex: LA-SL represents Saravan).
  • FIPS: Code from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Pc: First two digits of postal codes.
  • Population: 2005-03-01 census (source [4]).
  • Area: Source [3].

Postal codes: 

Laos uses four-digit postal codes (source [1]). They don't seem to be much used. The system was probably implemented before Xaisômboun special region was created.

Further subdivisions:

See the Districts of Laos page.

The provinces are further subdivided into muong (districts).

Origins of names: 

  1. Bokeo: Lao for "gem mine"
  2. Vientiane: Lao vieng: city, chan: sandalwood

Change history: 

  1. 1904: Two Siamese (Thai) provinces, corresponding to modern Xaignabouri and parts of Louangphrabang and Vientiane, annexed to Laos. Stoeng Trêng province transferred from Laos to Cambodge.
  2. 1941: The same provinces were restored to Thailand under pressure from Japan.
  3. 1947: The same provinces reverted to Laos as pre-war boundaries were restored.
  4. 1966: Name of Nam Tha province changed to Houakhong.
  5. ~1969: Capital of Xiangkhoang moved from Xiangkhoang to Phônsavan after the former was destroyed by bombing.
  6. ~1972: Name of capital of Khammouan province changed from Thakhek to Muang Khammouan.
  7. 1973-11-20: Champhon province (capital Ban Kengkok) temporarily split from Savannakhét; Vangviang province (Muang Vangviang) temporarily created from parts of Louangphrabang and Vientiane.
  8. 1973-12-26: Hôngxa province (Muang Hôngxa) and Paklay (Muang Paklay) temporarily split from Xaignabouri.
  9. ~1976: (Capitals in parentheses.) Name of Houakhong province changed back to Louang Namtha; Borikhan province (Muang Pakxan) merged with Vientiane; Xédôn (Pakxé) and Sithandon (Muang Khong) provinces merged with Champasak (Champasak); Vapikhamthong province (Muang Khôngxédôn) merged with Saravan; Oudômxai province split from Louangphrabang.
  10. 1983: Bokeo province split from Louang Namtha (formerly FIPS=LA05); Bolikhamxai province formed from parts of Khammouan (LA04) and Vientiane (LA11) provinces; Xékong province split from Saravan (LA09).
  11. ~1987: Capital of Oudômxai province moved from Ban Nahin to Muang Xay.
  12. ~1989: Vientiane prefecture split from Vientiane province (LA21); capital of Vientiane province moved from Vientiane to Muang Phôn-Hông.
  13. 1994-06: Xaisômboun khetphiset (special region) formed from parts of Bolikhamxai, Vientiane, and Xiangkhoang provinces.
ProvinceHASCFIPSPop-2005Pop-1996Area(km.²)Capital
AttapuLA.ATLA01112,09787,70010,320Attapu (Muang Samakhisai)
BokeoLA.BKLA22145,216114,9006,196Ban Houayxay
BolikhamxaiLA.BLLA23225,272164,90014,863Muang Pakxan
ChampasakLA.CHLA02607,333503,30015,415Pakxé
HouaphanLA.HOLA03280,898247,30016,500Sam Neua
KhammouanLA.KHLA15337,314275,40016,315Thakhek (Muang Khammouan)
Louang NamthaLA.LMLA16145,289115,2009,325Louang Namtha
LouangphrabangLA.LPLA17407,012367,20016,875Louangphrabang
OudômxaiLA.OULA07265,128211,30015,370Muang Xay
PhôngsaliLA.PHLA18165,926153,40016,270Phôngsali
SaravanLA.SLLA19324,303258,30010,691Saravan
SavannakhétLA.SVLA20825,879674,90021,774Savannakhét (Muang Khanthabouly)
VientianeLA.VILA27388,833286,80015,927Muang Phôn-Hông
Vientiane [prefecture]LA.VTLA24698,254531,8003,920Vientiane
XaignabouriLA.XALA13338,646293,30016,389Muang Xayabury
XaisômbounLA.XSLA2539,416 7,105Ban Mouang Cha
XékongLA.XELA2684,98564,2007,665Ban Phone (Muang Laman)
XiangkhoangLA.XILA14229,521201,20015,880Phônsavan
18 divisions5,621,3224,551,100236,800
  • Province: Vientiane [prefecture] is a municipality and Xaisômboun is a special region.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are replaced by hyphens,
    these are the same as the province codes from ISO standard 3166-2, except for the
    special zone, whose ISO code is LA-XN.
  • FIPS: Code from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Pop-1996: 1996 estimates, based on 1995-03-01 census (source [3]).
  • Pop-2005: 2005-03-01 census (source [4]).
  • Area: Provided by Karem Abdalla.
  1. 2006-01-13: Xaisômboun special region dissolved. "Longsan, Xaysomboun, Phun, and Hom districts were added to Vientiane province while Thathon district was attributed to Xiengkhuang province" (source [2]). From this date until 2013, the HASC codes for Vientiane and Xiangkhoang provinces were LA.VN and LA.XK, respectively.
  2. 2013-12-31: Xaisômboun restored as a province. I haven't been able to get any details, so I've assumed it took the same borders and capital that it had in 2006.

Other names of subdivisions: 

In transcription from Lao, some sources break names at syllable endings (e.g. Boli Kham Xai)

  1. Attapu: Atpu, Attapeu, Attopei, Attopeu, Muang Mai (variant)
  2. Bolikhamxai: Bolikhamsai, Bolikhamxay, Borikhamzay (variant); Borikane, Borikhan, Borikhane (obsolete)
  3. Champasak: Bassac, Champassack, Champassak (variant); Champassac, Khong, Pakse (French)
  4. Houaphan: Hua Phan, Huaphanh (variant); Sam Neua, Xam Nua (obsolete)
  5. Khammouan: Khammouane, Khammuan, Khammuane (variant)
  6. Louang Namtha: Haut-Mekong (French-obsolete); Luangnamtha, Muong Luang Namtha, Namtha (variant); Hiuakhong, Houa Khong, Upper Mekong (obsolete)
  7. Louangphrabang: Loang Prabang, Louangphabang, Louang Prabang, Luang Phabang, Luangphrabang, Luang Prabang (variant)
  8. Oudômxai: Oudomsai, Oudomsay, Oudomxay, UdomXay (variant)
  9. Phôngsali: Fong Sali, Phongsaly (variant)
  10. Saravan: Salavan, Salavane, Saravane (variant)
  11. Savannakhét: Svannakhet (variant)
  12. Vientiane: Viangchan (variant)
  13. Vientiane [prefecture]: Kamphaeng Nakhon Viang Chan (formal); Vientián (Spanish)
  14. Xaignabouri: Sayaboury, Xaignabouli, Xayabouri, Xayabury (variant)
  15. Xaisômboun: Saysomboune, Xaysomboun (variant)
  16. Xékong: Sekhong, Sekong (variant)
  17. Xiangkhoang: Xiang Khouang, Xieng Khouang, Xiengkhuang, Xieng Khwang (variant)

Sources: 

  1. [1] The U.S. Postal Service page on Country Conditions for Mailing - Laos  (retrieved 2010-11-23) has a partial list of Laotian postal codes. (First retrieved from http://pe.usps.gov/text/Imm/immicl/immicllm_001.html, now a dead link, on 2007-09-02).
  2. [2] Socio-economic ATLAS of the Lao PDR, Section A: Geographical Overview . Page 6 has a map of the districts of Laos (retrieved 2010-11-23).
  3. [3] The Statesman's Yearbook 1997-98, ed. Brian Hunter. St. Martin's Press, New York 1997.
  4. [4] Dependency Ratio by Province, result from the population census 2005  (click on the "DependencyRatio" tab at the bottom; retrieved 2020-11-23). The two columns add up to the total population for each province.
  5. [5] German Development Cooperation with Laos  page has a mouse-sensitive map and some history of province formation (retrieved 2010-11-23). However, its data are in such perfect agreement with mine that I suspect they were acquired from the Statoids site; therefore, citing this page would be circular reasoning.
  6. [6] Library of Congress country study  (retrieved 1999).
  7. [7] Webster's New Geographical Dictionary, Third Edition. G. & C. Merriam, Springfield, MA, 1997.
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