About Lao PDR
Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th Century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. A gradual return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997.
Laos is a landlocked country, having Cambodai, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam as its bordering neighbors. The thickly forested landscape consists mostly of rugged mountains, with some plains and plateaus. The Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand, whereas the mountains of the Annamite Chain form most of the eastern border with Vietnam. The elevation spans from 70 m. to 2817 m. above the sea level.
The climate is tropical monsoon type with two seasons: the rainy season from the beginning of May to the end of September and the dry season from October to April. The average temperature is at 29 degree centigrade.
Vientiane is the Capital of Lao PDR, other significant cities are Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakxe.
The population of Laos was estimated at 7.1 million in 2019, dispersed unevenly across the country. Most people live in valleys of the Mekong River and its tributaries; urban population is around 33%. The main ethnic groups are Lao (55%), Khmou (11%), and Hmong (8%).
Median age is 20.7 years, the life expectancy 62 years.
The predominant religion in Laos is Theravada Buddhism. There are also a small number of Christians, mostly in the Vientiane area, and Muslims, mostly in the Myanmar border region.
The official language is Lao, a tonal language of the Tai linguistic group. The written language is based on Khmer writing script. While French language is used due to historical reasons, English language has become increasingly studied in recent years.
Economy and Industry
The government of Laos began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. As a result the growth averaged 6% per year from 1988-2008. Despite this high growth rate, a further development of the infrastructure is needed, particularly in rural areas. Electricity is available in urban areas and in many rural districts. The economy has benefited from high foreign investment in hydropower, mining, and construction. Laos is taking steps required to join the World Trade Organization, such as reforming import licensing.
Substance agriculture dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 30% of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. Industry accounts for 33% of the GDP and service sector for 37%. Exports from Laos are mainly commodities: wood products, coffee, electricity, tin, copper and gold. Imports consist of machinery and equipment, vehicles, fuel and consumer products.
Theravada Buddhism has a dominant influence in Lao culture. It is reflected throughout the country from language to the temples and in art, literature, performing arts, etc. The national instrument, the Khaen, a type of bamboo flute that has prehistoric origins, dominates Laotian music. The Khaen traditionally accompanied the singer in lam, the dominant style of folk music. Among the various lam styles, the lam sarevane is probable the most popular.
Lao cuisine has common characteristics with the Northeastern Thai (Isan) food. Sticky rice is characteristic staple food and has cultural and religious significance to the Lao people.