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Laos PDR in brief

The first lao kingdom, Lan Xang was founded in the 14 th century by king Fa Ngum after he conquered and unified the lands north of and including LuangPrabang, Xiengkhuang  and Korat plateau stretching into what is today Thailand. Luang Prabang remained the capital of Lan Xang until King Setthathirath moved Kingdom’s administrative seat to Vientiane in 1560. Therefore the capital moved to Vientiane. Luang Prabang remained the country’s spiritual and religious center. The country’s first contact with western emissaries occurred in the mid 15th century during the reigned of Surigna Vongsa. After the dead of Surigna Vongsa in 1694 Lan Xang broke up into three separate Kingdoms: Vientiane, Champasak and Luang Prabang. Part of French indochina during the 19th – early 20th colonial period Laos achieved complete independence in 1975 with founding of the Lao People’s Demorcatic Republic.

Today laos is comprised of 17 provinces. It is the least populated country in Southeast Asia, with nearly 6,000,000 inhabitants in 2008 or 25 people per km2. In comparason,Vietnam has a population density of 250 people per km2 and Thailand 120. Rougly 85 % of population lives in rural areas. Althrough few in absolute numbers, within the population of Laos there is tremendous ethnic diversity with 49 officially recognized ethnic groups.

Traveler Information
Climate
Laos generally enjoys a mild tropical climate, but it can get quite chilly in the cool season. Temperatures range from 10 – 40 degrees Celsius in the Mekong Valley, and may dip below zero in the mountains and on the Xieng Khouang and Bolaven Plateaus. There are three distinct seasons cool from November – February; hot from March – May and the rainy season which lasts from June – October.

Geography
Main geographic features in Laos are forested mountains, the Xieng Khouang and Bolaven plateaus and the Mekong River valley. Of the country’s 237,000 km2 about 70% is covered with mountains. The highest peak is Phou Bias reaching just over 2,800 meters.

Language
The national language is Lao as it is spoken in Vientiane, but English is commonly used in major tourist centers. Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai are widely understood. French, German, Russian and a number of other European languages are also spoken by ... reade more...