Why the Embassy chauffeur in Laos speaks German: 60 years of diplomatic relations Lao People's Democratic Republic

Boats on the Mekong near Luang Prabang

Boats on the Mekong near Luang Prabang, © Imo/photothek.net

31.01.2018 - Article

Germany and Laos established diplomatic relations on 31 January 1958. Since then, the two countries have cultivated and steadily expanded their ties through the vicissitudes of history.

Vibrant exchange between Laos and the GDR

Why does the chauffeur of the German Ambassador in Laos speak German? Because he studied in Brandenburg. Around 2000 Lao studied or trained in the GDR, most of them in Saxony. Some of them are ministers today and speak German with a Saxon accent. The only other country outside Europe with a comparable number of German speakers is Mongolia.The two countries, far apart geographically, can now look back on 60 years of diplomatic relations. The around 30,000 Germans who visit the South-East Asian country as tourists every year can see how diverse the bilateral relations have been during the last six decades. Most tourists visit the oldest temple in the capital Vientiane, Wat Si Saket, which was recently restored with German expertise.

Renewable energies and tourism

Tourism is growing rapidly in Laos. The country’s tourism motto this year is “Visit Laos 2018”. Laos will have a prominent presence at the ITB Berlin from 7 to 11 March 2018. The

Street scene in the Lao capital, Vientiane
Street scene in the Lao capital, Vientiane© Imo/photothek.net

Federal Foreign Office has invited a Lao delegation to visit Germany on a guest programme trip focusing on sustainable tourism.
All in all, Laos’ economic development over the last few years has been impressive. In addition to tourism, there is potential for investment in the renewable energies sector. With an annual rate of around 7%, Laos has one of the highest levels of economic growth in the world.

Close cooperation in the education sector

 Laos is much more than an interesting tourist destination for Germany. The two countries have long since been cooperating on vocational training. The German-speaking embassy chauffeur is no exception. The vibrant exchange between the former GDR and Laos continued in the 1990s. To this day, alumni and friendship societies on both sides are carrying out successful projects together.
In future, this close cooperation is to be expanded at various levels. In May, for example, the Federal Foreign Office will be organising a training programme with young Lao diplomats. 

A focus of development cooperation

There are also close links between Laos and Germany in the field of development

Monks in Luang Prabang
Monks in Luang Prabang© Imo/photothek.net

cooperation. The cooperation between the two countries began in 1963 and has amounted to more than 400 million euros since then.
Today Laos is a focus of German development cooperation, which is mainly concentrated in two areas: rural development in poor regions of the country and sustainable economic development, for example through projects in the field of vocational training and the development of a microfinance sector.


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