Laos in brief

Location

Lao PDR is in the heart of the Indochina peninsular in Southeast Asia. For centuries, it has been widely known by outsiders as the land of a million Elephants. Lao is a landlocked country and covered by high mountainous ranges but crises-crossed by many rivers and stream. The Mekong River flows through 1865 km of the country from north to south. And this inland waterway system provides great potential for hydropower development. Over half of the power potential in the lower Makong basin is contained within Lao.

With an area of some 236800 square kilometers, three-quarter of which is mountains and plateaus. The population of Lao PDR has reached 5,218,000. About 85% of the population is rural dwellers and the 1999 census revealed that there were 60.000 more women than men. The average population density is 21 per square kilometer and the lowest population density is in Saysomboun Special Zone at 8 per square kilometer while the highest population in Laos is in Vientiane municipality, with 149 per square kilometer.

Lao PDR shared border with China to the north, Cambodia to the south, Vietnam to the east, Thailand to the west and Myanmar to the northwest. The country stretches for 1,700 km north to south, with an east-west width of over 500 a km at its widest, only 140 km at the narrowest point.

Climate

Most of the year is hot and humid. Lao PDR has three distinct seasons– the dry or cool Season arrives end of October continue until February, with cooler weather and reduced humidity. Average temperature might drop to 12?c or 14?c. Summer from March to June, with temperature up to 41?c. Rainy during June to October with cloudy days and may through August. The average annual temperature is 29c ranging in Vientiane and 35c in April to 20c in December or January.

Time:

Time in Laos is 7 hours Greenwich Mean time (GMT * 7)

People

The population of Lao PDR today is about 6 millions consisting of 49 Ethnic Groups in four main linguistic families, according to preliminary figures given to Symposium on the name of ethic group on August 13-14/2000.

Religion

Buddhism first appeared in Laos during the eighth century A.D. as shown by both the Buddha image and the stone inscription founded at Ban talat (Talat village) near Vientiane, now exhibited at the Museumm of Ho Prakeo. After the foundation of the unified Kingdom of Lane Xang, King Fa Ngum (14th century) declared Buddhism as the state religion and urged the people to abandon animism or other beliefs such as the cult of spirits. His policy meant to develop the Lao culture based on a common faith: the Theravada Buddhism.

Today Theravada Buddhism is the professed religion of about 90 percent of Lao people. Buddhism is an inherent feature of daily life and casts as strong influence on Lao society. Lao women can be seen each morning giving alms to monks, earning merit to lessen the number of their rebirth. Lao men are expected to become monks for at least a short time in their lives. Traditionally they spend three months during the rainy season in a Vat, a Buddhist temple. But nowadays most men curtail their stay to one or two weeks.

Language

Lao language is the national language. Languages used widely particularly in Vientiane are French, English, Chinese and Vietnamese. French and English languages are used widely for commercial or telecommunicational languages. These languages are spoken in most hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and shops in main cities but some in local areas.

Play National Anthem of Laos

Play Duang Cham Pa