The Ultimate Resource For All Things Laos
Situated in South East Asia, The Lao People’s Democratic Republic or Laos as it is more commonly called, is a landlocked country that is contiguous with Burma and China in the northwest, with Vietnam in the east, with Cambodia in South and with Thailand in the west. The country is home to 6.5 million people. The capital Of Laos is Vientiane, situated at the border of Thailand and the Mekong River. Often called ‘the city of moon’, the name of the city means ‘ambiguous’. Ever since it’s christening as the capital city in 1563, it has served as a tourist attraction. Further, the city is home to an estimated population of 802,000 people. The main attractions of Vientiane are That Luang (The Golden Temple), Haw Phra Kaew, Patuxai and the That Dam. The county’s latitudes range between 14 degrees to 23 N degrees, with a certain portion lying in the south of 14 degrees. And the longitudes of Laos lie between 100 degrees to 108E degrees.
• The official language of the country is Lao. The terrain of Laos is marked by thick forests. The richly forested landscape also consists of mountains along with some plains and plateaus. The highest mountain of the country is Phou Bia, situated at a height of 2818 meters. The Mekong River dominates the major portion of the landscape on the western border, which is shared with Thailand. Likewise, the Annamite Range is situated on the eastern border shared with Vietnam. Further, as far as the north- western border which is shared with the highlands of Thailand, is concerned, it houses the Luang Prabang Range. The two plateaus of Xiangkhoang Plateau and Bolaven Plateau are situated in the northern and southern ends respectively.
• The climate of Laos is mainly tropical and is affected greatly by the monsoon patterns. The rainy season stretches from the month of May to November followed by a cool dry spell which stretches from December to April. According to local tradition, there are three seasons, namely, cold dry and hot. The hot dry season occurs in March and April. Generally, monsoon kicks in at about the same time, throughout the country. Although, the period may vary substantially from one year to the other. The amount of rainfall experienced also differs from region to region, with the highest rainfall of 3700 millimeters on an annual basis, being experienced in the Bolaven Plateau situated in the Champasak Province. Further, temperature ranges from 40 degree Celsius along the Mekong River during March and April to around 5 degree Celsius in Xiangkhoang Plateau.
• The population of Laos boasts of a rich ethnic culture consisting of 94 ethnic groups. These ethnic groups are a subset of four prime linguistic families. The Mono-Khmer family includes 32 ethnic groups like Pray, Khmu, Try and Makong to name a few. The second one, Tibeto- Burmese family includes seven ethnic groups, of the like Ahka, Lahou and Lolo. Further, Hmong-Ioumien consists of only two races namely, Hmong and Ioumien. While there is no geographical symmetry exhibited by these ethnic groups, each of these ethnic groups has a culture of its own, specific to that group only. Generally seen as congenial, the people of Laos exhibit a heightened sense of respect and courtesy. The rich culture of the country is also seen in its ever popular folk music. One of the most widely used musical instruments is the Khaen, which is a wind instrument. It is made of two rows of bamboo-like reeds accommodated in a sound box made of wood.
• The architectural style of Laos is a confluence of a numerous other architectural styles that have evolved as distinct style of their own. One of the most notable architectural monuments is the That Luang or The Great Sacred Stupa. The Stupa which is designed like a dome, together with the superstructure with four corners, is a trademark of the architecture of ancient Laos. There is a strong relationship between literature and religion, as is seen in the holy book, Pha Lak Pha Lam.
• The country is a member of World Trade Organisation (WTO) as well as the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). A great achievement for the country was its inception as a signatory of the Asia -Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA). The country is run by a single party and is a socialist republican. The country is headed by the President. The country is making rapid progress as a major supplier of electricity to its neighbouring countries of China, Vietnam and Thailand, which considerably boosts the indigenous revenues. In the year of 1993, the country announced a landmark decision by chalking out 21% of the land of the country for habitat conservation or preservation. Further, the country is one of the four countries, namely Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, that form the Golden Triangle, a premium poppy producing area. The country’s total area under poppy cultivation in the year 2007, according to the UNODC’s statistics, was a modest 15 square kilometers, down from a staggering 18 square kilometers the previous year. This drop shows the humanitarian side of the otherwise meticulous government.
• A great contributor to the economy and one of the country’s most flourishing industries is the tourism industry. Every year, thousands of tourists flock to Laos to experience nature’s benevolence on the country’s landscapes. A beautiful landscape combined with its tropical climate is a big advantage that helps the country gain some leverage to attract tourists. With just 80,000 international visitors in the year of 1990, the country has made a big improvement on its infrastructural facilities that has resulted in a record 1.876 million tourists visiting it in the year of 2010. Further, revenues from the tourism industry were estimated to be US$679 million in the year 2010 and are expected to scale upto US$1585 million by the year 2020 which has led to an influx in Laos hotels across the major cities with Agoda being one site you can use to book hotels in Laos. Apart from revenue, the tourism industry employs the majority of the county’s population. According to statistics, one out of every ten people was employed by the tourism industry.