A landlocked country of 7 million between the Mekong River and Annamite Cordillera, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR or Laos) has the lowest population density in Southeast Asia.[1] Officially, over 81% of land is classified as forest, and only 6.5% is arable land.[2] Actual natural forest cover, however, is estimated by the government at 40%, with a target to increase to 70% by 2020.[3] Some of the remaining area, considered as “damaged forest”, is sloping land used for cultivation.

Most members of the 49 recognized ethnic minority groups in Laos have traditionally subsisted from shifting (swidden) agriculture and forest products. Patterns of land use have been transformed through population displacements during and after the Indochina wars;[4] government policies to eradicate opium and swidden cultivation;[5] and relocation of hundreds of thousands of residents to new villages closer to roads and public services.[6]

The government of the Lao PDR prioritizes economic growth and poverty alleviation through “sustainable development of the nation’s rich natural capital and land,” particularly through encouraging private investment and granting concessions of state land to investors.[7] Forest, land, water, and mineral resources together make up more than half of the country’s wealth.[8] The national strategy to “turn land into capital”[9] has brought mining, hydropower, and agri-business land concessions to large areas of rural Laos, frequently turning small-scale farmers into landless laborers in the process. This represents an unprecedented transfer of land access from farmers to foreign investors.[10]

Source of the narrative

Disclaimer: The data displayed on the Land Portal is provided by third parts indicated as the data source or as the data provider. The Land Portal team is constantly working to ensure the highest possible standard of data quality and accuracy, yet the data is by its nature approximate and will contain some inaccuracies. The data may contain errors introduced by the data provider(s) and/or by the Land Portal team. In addition, this page allows you to compare data from different sources, but not all indicators are necessarily statistically comparable. The Land Portal Foundation (A) expressly disclaims the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any data and (B) shall not be liable for any errors, omissions or other defects in, delays or interruptions in such data, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Neither the Land Portal Foundation nor any of its data providers will be liable for any damages relating to your use of the data provided herein.


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Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF)

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  • Very Good Practice
  • Good Practice
  • Weak Practice
  • Very Weak Practice
  • Missing Value

Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure

Legend: National laws adoption of the VGGT principle
  • Fully adopt
  • Partially adopt
  • Not adopted
  • Missing Value

Note: The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (The VGGTs) were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security in 2012.

The "VGGT indicators" dataset has been created by Nicholas K. Tagliarino, PhD Candidate at the University of Groningen. The indicators of this dataset assess national laws against Section 16 of the VGGT standards on expropriation, compensation, and resettlement.

Each indicator relates to a principle established in the VGGTs.

Answering the questions posed by these indicators entails analyzing a broad range of national-level laws, including national constitutions, land acquisition acts, land acts, community land acts, agricultural land acts, land use regulations, and some court decisions.


Latest News

Obama urged to press Laos on human rights at regional summit

By: Alisa Tang
Date: August 31st 2016
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Activists have called on U.S. President Barack Obama to press Laos on its human rights record on issues such as illegal land concessions and forced evictions, when he visits the Communist country next week.

Obama is due to attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the capital Vientiane, becoming the first U.S. president to visit Laos.

Group Warns of Rising ASEAN Land Grab Conflicts

By: Ron Corben & Bryan Lynn
Date: August 1st 2016
Source: VOA

An international human rights organization says Southeast Asia is facing increasing conflicts and violence over land grab activity. A “land grab” relates to taking land quickly, forcefully and often illegally.

Press Release: Mekong Regional Land Forum 2016

“Bringing Land Governance into ASEAN Economic Integration”

The G8 World Summit in 2003 stated that “Weak land governance and property rights systems can lead to opaque land deals.” It further states that “increasing security of land rights and transparency of land governance fosters participation of citizens, contributes to government accountability, reduces costs for businesses, and strengthens the climate for responsible investment”.

Latest Blog

Latest Events

Enhancing Open Access to Knowledge, Information & Data in the Mekong: Open Data Festival and Regional Capacity-building Workshop

Sunday, February 26, 2017 to Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Best Western Green Hill Yangon

Over the last 30 years, the nation states in the Mekong region have taken steps to reform their land policy to facilitate the efforts to end poverty, create wealth and grow their economies. To do this most effectively in this modern age requires the leveraging of technical innovations and data.


Recognition of Customary Tenure in the Mekong Region: a Dialogue

Monday, February 13, 2017 to Friday, February 24, 2017
Natalia Scurrah
Terry Parnell

From 13-24 February 2017, the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project and the Land Portal will co-facilitate an online dialogue on the Recognition of Customary Tenure in the Mekong Region.





Displaying 1 - 6 of 193

Genealogies of the Political Forest and Customary Rights in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand

ABSTRACTED FROM INTRODUCTION: How have national and state governments the world over come to “own” huge expanses of territory under the rubric of “national forest,” “national parks”, or “wastelands”? The two contradictory statements in the above epigraph illustrate that not all colonial administrators agreed that forests should be taken away from local people and “protected” by the state. The assumption of state authority over forests is based on a relatively recent convergence of historical circumstances.

Resource information

December 2001

USAID Country Profile: Property Rights and Resource Governance - Lao PDR

OVERVIEW: The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a landlocked country situated in Southeast Asia, bordering Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar. Despite a recent increase in the rate of urbanization and a relatively small amount of arable land per capita, most people in Lao PDR live in rural areas and work in an agriculture sector dominated by subsistence farming. Lao PDR’s economy relies heavily on its natural resources, with over half the country’s wealth produced by agricultural land, forests, water and hydropower and mineral resources.

Resource information

December 2011

Land-Taking Disputes in East Asia: A Comparative Analysis and Implications for Vietnam

ABSTRACTED FROM INTRODUCTION: Many of the economic, demographic, and social changes animating land disputes in Vietnam are also sweeping across other countries in East Asia. The aim of this Report is to provide comparative insights into land-taking disputes in three East Asian countries—China, Indonesia, and Cambodia—that are relevant to Vietnamese conditions. It is not the intention of this Report to provide a comprehensive account of land-taking disputes, but rather to identify trends in dispute resolution.

Resource information

December 2014

Exploring the Trade Patterns and Developmental Implications of Land Concessions: The Case of Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Thailand

ABSTRACTED FROM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This report deals with land concessions in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Thailand – a much contended topic which leads discussants from issues such as land ownership and utilization to social structures, human rights and beyond. Overall, this report aims to examine changes in relative competitiveness in selected tradable commodities of Thailand and whether they are impacted through increases of land concession in selected countries in the subregion.

Resource information

December 2014

Shifting cultivation, livelihood and food security

PUBLISHER'S ABSTRACT: The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 September 2007. Since then, the importance of the role that indigenous peoples play in economic, social and environmental conservation through traditional sustainable agricultural practices has been gradually recognized.

Resource information

December 2015

Falling Rubber Prices in Northern Laos: Local Responses and Policy Options

ABSTRACTED FROM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Rubber prices in northern Laos have fallen significantly over the last few years, eroding much of the enthusiasm developed by both farmers and government officials in the 1990s and early 2000s about rubber providing a way out of poverty for poor upland farmers.

Resource information

December 2016