Laos

Asia

Country

Laos is located in South East Asia and is about the size of Victoria which is equivalent to 91,000 miles or 240,000 kilometres. It takes approximately 6 hours to get to Laos from Australia, if you traveled by plane. Laos is also one of the few landlocked countries in Asia which means it is surrounded by other countries and has no coastline. It has a mountainous terrain with many rivers. The biggest river is the Mekong River and actually forms the entire border between Laos and Thailand. Its capital is Vientiane.
Big image

Geography

Laos has a tropical climate with high temperature and humidity levels. Laos have their rainy season from May to November.


People

Population

Laos's current population is 6 533 008 with 3 261 180 males (49.9%) and 3 271 912 females (50.1%). So far this year there have also been 132 678 births.

Religion

Their main religion is Theravada Buddhism although animist beliefs are also common usually in mountainous areas. An animist belief is a belief in a supernatural power that organises and animates the material word.

Customs & Beliefs

Laos have many different customs and beliefs to Australia and here are some of them.

  1. In Laos there is a saying that your head is high and your feet are low because in Laos if your feet are used for anything but walking and playing sport it is considered rude even if you stepped over someone sitting on the floor.
  2. Monks are respected in Laos and women shouldn't touch a monk or their robe.
  3. Kissing, hugging and holding hands in public is impolite as it is believed that it should be done privately.
  4. The use of drugs is illegal and the consequences could be serve.
  5. Temples in Laos are considered holy and you must be dressed appropriately if you go inside. Your shoulders and knees should be covered as well as everything in between. Women who wear a traditional sihn (long skirt) in the streets or in a temple will find the gesture appreciated.
  6. In Laos you should also stay calm and prevent raising you voice when something goes wrong.
  7. When swimming women must wear a T- shirt and covering them from mid-thigh to shoulders, shorts are fine for men.


Language

Their language is Lao although French, English and other languages are also spoken.






History Highlights

Laos originated from the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang in the 14th century. For three hundred years this kingdom included parts of Cambodia and Thailand as we know it now. It also included all of what we know about Laos. Laos came under the control of Siam (now Thailand) from the late 18th century and in the late 19th century were under control of France. Communist forces ended the monarchy in Laos in 1975 which made them similar to Vietnam and the Soviet Union and were more isolated to the Western World. Laos has relaxed this policy concerning the Western World since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 although it remains poor and still relies on donations from international countries. It became a member of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) in 1997. Laos is one of the few remaining communist countries.


Economy

Agriculture is dominated by rice production on the floodplains of the Mekong River. Other crops include vegetables, fruit, spices and cotton. These crops provide for 80% if Laos's total employment. The government began encouraging private enterprise in 1986 and the economy has grown steadily except for the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Laos still remains one of the poorest countries in southeast Asia. It has basic roads, no train tracks and limited telecommunications. Electricity is only available in a few areas. Laos is currently working on road projects and a dam construction which will be used to generate electricity to export to Thailand. They also export clothing, coffee, tin and timber products with their main export partners being Vietnam, Thailand and France. Tourism is also growing.


Education

In 1985, primary school education was made compulsory and most children do attend classes, although, due to the lack of schools and trained teachers, especially in remote rural areas , means that education is limited.


Health

Laotians have poor health as they don't have clean drinking water. Another reason is that families live in one-roomed homes. They also don't eat as much as they should because of food shortages and they don't get a wide variety of what they do eat.


Living Conditions

Laotians's diet mainly consists of rice with spices and fresh vegetables although freshwater fish, poultry and pork are an important source of protein and are flavoured with either lime juice, lemongrass, chillies, garlic, mint or coconut milk. However, most poor families aren't able to afford nutritious food.

Many rural families find it hard to make a living on a small amount of land and are unaware that their farming techniques are often outdated. Laos is home to some tropical forests which are being logged rapidly which makes it difficult for farmers to produce healthy crops and leads into another problem, deforestation.

Many rural families live in one-roomed homes, made of bamboo or wood with a thatched or tin roof. These homes are built on stilts so their rooms are kept cool and so they avoid floods.

In rural areas the health services are also poor. They also have a lack of safe water and sanitation means that diseases like diarrhoea and malaria are major causes of illness and sometimes death, especially in young children. Traditional spirit healers remain important because of the absence of medical facilities.





Natural Resources

Laotians rely on natural resources such as rice, vegetables, fruit, spices, freshwater fish, poultry, pork, lemongrass, chillies, garlic, mint, coconut milk and water for either food, to flavour food or to drink. They also use other natural resources such as cotton, bamboo and wood for building homes or making clothes.


Environmental Issues

Laos have two main environmental issues. The first one is that they have a lack of safe drinking water and the second is deforestation. Laos is home to many tropical forests which cover most of the country, and are being logged rapidly.