What Is Laos and Where Is It Located?
Laos, officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is a socialist state and the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Capital, Vientiane; Lao People’s Democratic Republic covers 230,800 square kilometers of land and 6,000 square kilometers of water, making it the 84th largest nation in the world with a total area of 236,800 square kilometers. At the heart of the Indochinese peninsula, Laos is bordered by Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the southeast and Thailand to the west and southwest.
Laos in recent years has had its share of the terrible conflicts of the south-east Asian peninsula. Formerly French, it became independent in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong.
A post-independence civil war began, which saw the communist resistance, supported by the Soviet Union, fight against the monarchy that later came under influence of military regimes supported by the United States. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the communist Pathet Lao came to power, ending the civil war. Laos was then dependent on military and economic aid from the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.
Laos is a mountainous country with no sea coast and small population. There is plenty of timber, and rapid streams provide hydro electric power. But there is little or no industry and not much mining except for tin. Most of the people live in river valleys, growing rice and other crops to feed themselves. The Laotian people are of mixed descent, and there is some conflict between different groups, especially lowlanders and tribal mountain people.
In Laos, the politically and culturally dominant Lao people make up about 55% of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes live in the foothills and mountains. Laos has been referred to as one of Southeast Asia and Pacific’s Fastest Growing Economies by the World Bank with annual GDP growth averaging 7.7% since 2009.