In 2002, Laos emerged from a period of economic turbulence and political insecurity. The economy showed signs of recovery from the 1997––98 Asian financial crisis. But economists noted some worrying long-term trends. Foreign donors demonstrated their confidence by continuing to provide development assistance. Domestic insurgency appeared on the decline. In February, Laos conducted trouble-free national elections. The Lao government also made some positive adjustments in its treatment of Christian minority groups. Externally, Laos gave priority to reinforcing relations with its immediate neighbors, Vietnam, Thailand, and China. The Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) is one of the world's least-developed countries and one of the last remaining socialist states in Asia. During 2002 the one-party regime continued to consolidate its hold on power. Domestic insurgency fell and there was no renewal of the urban bombing attacks that struck Laos in 2000––01. The Lao economy continued to recover from the aftershocks of the 1997––98 Asian financial crisis, although serious structural problems remained. No serious problems emerged in Laos's external relations. Bilateral relations with Vietnam were further strengthened.
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Errata: In the September/October 2016 issue (volume 56 number 5, pages 836 and 849), there was a technical printing error in Figures 1b and 2 of the article by Ajay Raina that resulted in a loss of data on the graphs. This online article contains the restored figures in their original, correct state. The error is regretted.