The government of Laos, or Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a one-party socialist state. The central government has been attempting to develop increased capitalist incorporation in response to globalization while also exercising a greater degree of economic control over traditional provincial autonomy. The economy is a free market system with the government playing an active role in central planning.
The Laotian government is based on Marxism, and it has close ties to its neighbor to the east, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. A one-party politburo dominated by military generals controls the government. Formerly under French rule, Laos gained independence under a constitutional monarchy in 1953, but a prolonged civil war ended in a communist takeover by the communist movement Pathet Lao in 1975. Along with Vietnam, China, North Korea and Cuba, Laos is one of the five remaining communist states in the world.
Located in Southeast Asia and bordered by Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and the People's Republic of China, Laos is a landlocked nation facing the challenge of an inadequate infrastructure, rough terrain and, except for a short link between the capital city and Thailand, no railways. As of 2014, almost 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Laos was heavily bombed during the Vietnam Conflict between 1964 and 1973 and millions of unexploded cluster bombs remain, posing a continuing threat to life and a deterrent to agriculture. Despite its many challenges, the Laotian government is working towards attracting foreign investment to develop the country's substantial mineral resources and hydroelectric power potential.