On the way to Laos, its old capital, Luang Prabang, with its gold-decorated Buddhist temples and processions of orange-clad monks, forms an idyllic stopover.
Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia, where you can still see a glimpse of the splendor of the former kingdom. The Buddhist monastic tradition is still in force. Early in the morning you can see a queue of orange-clad monks and novices advancing rapidly on the otherwise still quiet streets and gathering their food from the locals who gather for the street with rice bowls and fruit.
- Abbreviationfinder: lists typical abbreviations and country overview of Lao, including bordering countries, geography, history, politics, and economics.
Laos. On January 24, a bomb exploded at a border crossing between Laos and Thailand. Eleven Thai tourists were injured. Authorities said the bombing was sparked by a quarrel between two men, while independent judges were convinced that hostile rebel forces were behind it. The bombing was one in the line of similar attacks.
Lao’s ruling Communist Party held its seventh congress March 12-14. A few younger party members were elected to the leadership, but on most of the posts the old representatives were re-elected. President Khamtay Siphandone was re-elected chairman of the party’s Central Committee. Congress decided to focus on agricultural development and preparations for modernization and industrialization.
At the end of March, the Legislative Assembly elected a new government under Prime Minister Boungnang Volachit, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. The new government was reported to be a last-minute compromise solution between the party’s civilian and military faction. The choice of prime minister, leader of the civilian faction, was liked by foreign lenders.
In November, a Belgian EU parliamentarian, along with four other people, were sentenced to two years in prison for participating in a demonstration for democracy in Laos. They were also expelled from the country.
According to Countryaah, the population of Laos in 2001 was 5,751,565, ranking number 106 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.560% yearly, and the population density was 24.9206 people per km2.
Laos is one of the four protectorates of French Indochina and corresponds to the middle basin of the Mekong, but only on the left side, since the river marks for a good stretch the border between French Laos and the one, first Burmese, then, further downstream, Siamese. The protectorate, in the area of 231,000 sq. Km., Therefore includes the narrow strip that joins the Tonkin and the northern and central Annam to the west up to the Mekong, directed from the NW. to SE. for a length of about 1100 km. and for a maximum width to N. of 400 km., which then reduces towards S., between Annam and Mekong, to only 110-120 km.
Physically, the country can be divided into two regions: upper Laos and lower Laos; while this occupies the western flank of the Annamite mountain range, Upper Laos embraces a complex impervious area of high lands, with peaks even higher than 2000 m., covered with dense forests, of an almost tropical character up to 1500 m. about, and, higher up, of conifers, and deeply engraved by numerous rivers.
In the heart of northern Laos stands the Tranninh plateau, healthy, wooded and mining (coal, tin, lead, silver), but impervious, sparsely populated (less than 2 residents per sq. Km) and not exploited, than at the top highest (Phu-bia) reaches 2850 meters.
In southern Laos, which is less elevated and more regular, there are also extensive arid arenaceous plateaus covered with sparse wood, among whose essences are well represented the Borassus flabelliformis in S., the pines and dipterocarps in North.
The most important part of Laos, however, is the Mekong valley, which marks the most notable route of penetration and along which the main centers are also distributed. The frequent rapids and straits distributed along the river’s course do not prevent the natives from driving their rafts and pirogues even in the most dangerous stretches and at any time of the year, while on the other hand the Mekong is always navigable only for vapors. in the stretch from Savannaket to Vien-tiane. The Mekong, like its left tributaries, is affected during the SW monsoon. to very strong and sudden floods that in certain points can rise by over 12 m. the normal water level.
The population (944,000 residents In 1931; 4 per sq. Km.) Is made up of three main groups very different from each other in terms of language, customs and standard of living. The most fertile districts are inhabited by the Lao or Laotians (Thai) who by civilization are superior to other indigenous peoples. In the mountainous areas, on the other hand, there are Austronesian populations (Mon-Khmer family), who are divided into many subgroups. Various tribes of Meo (of Chinese origin) also live isolated in the most inaccessible areas of Tran-ninh. The predominant religion in the country is Buddhism; the mountain tribes, however, are animist.
There are 518 Europeans and they live gathered in the major centers; of which worthy of mention are, in addition to the capital Vien-tiane (10,000 residents), Louang-prabang and Xieng-khouang in northern Laos; Thakhek, Savannaket, Saravane, Paksé and Khung in the south. The country, mountainous in the N., sterile in the S., sparsely populated, without good roads, has for now little economic importance. Rice, grown in mountain hollows and along rivers, is the most important agricultural product. Of less importance are cotton and tobacco. Notable is the breeding of cattle in the highlands of southern Laos and that of sheep in the Tran-ninh and Hua-panh regions. The forests are rich in precious wood, including teak, resins and rubber. However, the scarcity of ordinary routes (3930 km.) and the lack of railways does not allow adequate exploitation of the region, which is also rich in mineral deposits. For the bibl., V.Indochina.