Laos is a landlocked nation nestled at the center of the Indochinese Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Most parts of the country are hilly with Phou Bia as its highest elevation. The country is known for its highland tribe communities and Buddhist convents. Because the nation had been a French territory since 1904, French architecture is also noticeable in the country. With its strategic location, the country has become the heart for overland trade, making it economically and culturally rich. Its economy is dependent on trade and investments of its neighboring countries such as China, Vietnam, and Thailand.
In 1986, this one-party Communist state began decentralizing control and promoting private enterprise. It brought about a dramatic growth rate of 6% per year from 1988 to 2008. Although the country has a high growth rate, it is still behind in terms of infrastructure and facilities.
Introduction of the Lao Kip
The Lao Kip (LAK), which is sometimes referred to as the Laos dollar, is the national currency of Laos. Introduced four years before the socialist state finally gained its freedom from France, the Kip replaced the Indochinese piastre in 1945. Before it was named the Kip, the legal tender was known as the Free Lao Kip in 1946, the Royal Kip in 1955, the Pathet Lao Kip in 1976, and the Lao PDR Kip in 1979.
The Free Lao Kip banknotes were issued by the FL government in Vientiane in 10, 20, and 50 att and 100 kip denominations before the French government ruled the region again. The notes issued by the FL government were printed on poor-quality paper. As a result, the public called them “Katay dry banana leaf banknotes”, referencing Katay Don Sasorit who served as the finance minister during that period. Therefore, the country decided to revert to French Indochinese piastre notes.
In 1955, the French Indochinese was replaced with the reintroduction of the Royal Kip. It followed the country’s declaration of independence from France. When the communists assumed control over the country, the Royal Kip was replaced by the Pathet Lao Kip which was introduced in 1976 and on December 16, 1979, the Pathet Lao Kip was replaced by the People’s Democratic Republic Kip.
As a French protectorate, Lao banknotes were initially printed in France until 1975. After which, banknotes were mostly printed in China.
In 2010, a 100,000 banknote was released by the Central Bank to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Vientiane as the country’s capital as well as the 35th year of the establishment of the Lao PDR. This note features a statue of King Setthathirat on its obverse design and the Ho Phra Keo temple in Vientiane on the reverse.