Laos

By: Nathan Elder

Laos

Laos is a country located in Southeast Asia, and has a population of about 6.5 million people. It has many great tourist attractions like The Royal Palace and the Lao National Museum.

Geography and Travel

The thick forested landscape of Laos consists of rugged mountains, with some plains and plateaus. One of the most important rivers is the The Mekong River and it is instrumental in forming the western border with Thailand. In Laos the weather is controlled mostly by the monsoons that come and go. Along with this there is three distinct seasons, rainy, cold and hot. Also in Laos there is 21% of land that is reserved for the endangered animals facing extinction.

Government and Foreign Policies

Laos is a Democratic Republic and is one of the only remaining socialist states. The head of state is President Choummaly who is also the General Secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party. While the head of the government is Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong. The important government decision are dealt with by the council of minister.

Economy

The Lao economy depends mostly on investment and trade with it's neighbors like Vietnam, China, and Thailand. Just about 80% of Laos population practices subsistence agriculture and accounts for half of the GPD. The main crop that is grown is rice and most of the farms are self sufficient. Laos is rich with mineral resources. The government of Laos hopes to attract a foreign investment to develop coal, gold, tin, copper and many other valuable metals.

Social And Ethnic Groups

The Ethnic group is determined by the altitude of where they are located (lowlands, midlands and highlands). 60% of the population practices Lao. The Lao belong to the Tai group who began migrating southward from China while the other 20% of Laos population belong to the lowland groups. All of these groups are very distinct, and each have their own set of rules and leaders of the group.

Religion, Language and the Country Flag

In Laos 40-50% of the people followers of Theravada Buddhism while the remainder of the population belongs to at least 48 ethnic minority groups. Most of these ethnic minority groups are practicers of Animism, with beliefs that vary among groups. Animism is predominant among most groups and have been incorporated into the Theravada Buddhism practice. The official language is Lao, however only slightly more than half of the people in Laos can speak it fluently. French is still commonly used in the government system and some of the schools are teaching French. The Flag of Laos is below, and each color represents something. Their flag was adopted as the national flag. In the center of the flag there is a white circle and that represents the unity of the people under the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and the county's bright future. The red stripes stand for the blood shed by the people that fought for freedom. The blue stripe symbolizes their prosperity.

Traditional Holidays of Festivals, Traditional Clothing and Food

One of the largest holidays in Laos is the celebration in January called Bun Pha Wet. This is a festival in which the Buddha's important life, is recited. Also this is a time when the males of Lao are appointed into the monk-hood. The traditional clothing of Laos was originated millions of years ago and then were spread through the major ethnic groups over the years. Colorful patterns and bright colors are key in the design of these very original clothing pieces. Some of the traditional foods have been around for years, and it is a huge custom to invite others to feast on the food that have been prepared. One of these foods is called Larb. Larb is a spicy mixture of meat that has been marinated, with a variety of many herbs, greens, and spices.

Notable People and History

Chloe Dao is best known for participating and winning season two of Project Runway. She is a very popular fashion designer and is worn all around the world. Once she even had her designs showcased in the Smithsonian Museum. Laos was under the French's rule from the early 19th century to late 1955. This was when the gained independence and became their own state. Since then Laos has broke out in riots and fights, and is now the most heavily bombed places in the world.