Lao PDR, or Laos, if you want a not-so-formal name, is a landlocked country that borders vietnam, Thailand, China, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Lao PDR is a multi-ethnic country where the majority of inhabitants are devout Buddhists. The dominant language is Lao and French, with a single party Marxist-Leninist government. While still not in that stage to be truly an international destination, the country has its own charm to attract intrepid visitors in search of something different from the typical tourist routes. Laos was the Best Tourist Destination in the World for 2013. That’s a big accolade for a still-developing country.

GEOGRAPHY AND POPULATION

For a landlocked country, and the only one in such a position in Southeast Asia, Laos still gets enough water to nourish its farms. Forested mountains comprise most of Laos. It is a tropical country and also in the path of the monsoon belt. The dry season is from December until April. From May to November, the season turns rainy. Laos, home to 6.25 million people, is subdivided into 16 provinces and one prefecture that divides a total area of 236,800 square kilometers or 91,428.991 square miles. Most of the population live in the capital city of vientiane and the district of Savannakhet.

HISTORY

hmongfrau in Laos

Hmongfrau in Laos

Laos has an ancient history and a tumultuous past, characterized by a succession of royal rulers, both benevolent and ruthless ones, invasions from neighboring countries, civil strife including rebellions and military uprisings. Late in the 19th century, it became a Protectorate of French Indochina. For a brief period during the Second World War, Laos came under Japanese rule before the country declared itself independent on October 2, 1945. However, the French only granted them independence as a constitutional monarchy on October 22, 1953. The Lao People’s Revolutionary Party is the single ruling party in Lao PDR since 1972.

PEOPLE

There is a French saying that the vietnamese plant rice while Cambodians watch the rice grow. However, the Lao listen to the rice grow. That is how visitors view the Lao people, laid-back and enjoying a slower pace of life. In Swahili, you say “hakuna matata,” in Lao, they say “baw pen nyang.” Both phrases mean “no problem” and that is how they approach life.

Lao PDR has 49 recognized ethnic communities. Broadly they are categorized as the Lao Loum from the lowlands, comprising 70% of the population, the Lao Theung from the upland and the Lao Soung or the highland Lao. The latter includes the H’mong people, the most well-known among all the ethnic groups in the country.

More than one million international tourists visited Lao PDR in 2010, compared to 80,000 in 1990. Its ancient Asian charm is its biggest attraction, as well as its colonial architecture, Buddhist culture, ancient temples, cultural sites and its cuisine. It is known for its weaving, traditional handicraft, silk and mulberry tea.

 

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