Laos

Asia

Country

The capital city is Vientiane- population 21 million


Geography

Climate

Laos is a tropical place - Wet Season (May to November)

Dry Season (December to April)

The best time to go to Laos is in the dry season because in the wet season it rains alot

Size

Laos is approximate the same size as Victoria



People

Population- 6.68 million

Religion- Buddhism

Beliefs- animist

Language

There a many languages spoken there such as Lao, French and English


History Highlights

1893 - Laos becomes a French protectorate until 1945, when it is briefly occupied by the Japanese towards the end of World War II.

North Vietnamese troops and their South Vietnamese opponents fought on Laotian territory as the conflict spilled over in the 1960s

1946 - French rule over Laos is resumed.

1950 - Laos is granted semi-autonomy as an associated state within the French Union.

1954 - Laos gains full independence as a constitutional monarchy. Civil war breaks out between royalists and the communist group, the Pathet Lao.

1960s - Laos subject to extensive aerial bombardment by the United States in an attempt to destroy North Vietnamese sanctuaries and to rupture the supply lines known as the Ho Chi Minh trail. It's estimated that more bombs were dropped on Laos than were used during the whole of World War II.

1973 - Vientiane ceasefire agreement divides Laos between the communists and the royalists.

Communist take-over

1975 - The Pathet Lao - renamed the Lao People's Front - seizes power. King Savang Vatthana abdicates - he is later arrested and dies in captivity. The Lao People's Democratic Republic is proclaimed, with the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) the only legal political party. Kaysone Phomvihane becomes prime minister. "Socialist transformation" of the economy is launched.


1979 - Food shortages and the flight of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Thailand leads the government to modify its approach. Some private enterprise within agriculture is permitted.

1986 - Encouraged by the Gorbachev reforms in the Soviet Union, Laos introduces market-oriented reforms.

1989 - First elections held since 1975. All candidates have to be approved by the LPRP. Communists retain power.

1991 - Security and cooperation pact signed with Thailand. A new constitution is endorsed. Kaysone Phomvihane becomes president, Khamtay Siphandon becomes prime minister.

1992 - President Phomvihane dies. Siphandon becomes head of the LPRP.

1994 - "Friendship bridge" over the Mekong linking Laos and Thailand is opened.

1995 - US lifts its 20-year aid embargo.

1997 - Laos becomes a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). The Asian financial crisis decimates the value of the Lao currency, the kip.

1998 - Khamtay Siphandon becomes president

Economy

Laos is one of the poorest nations. Agriculture employs most of Laotian workforce and accounts for about half of its gross domestic product. Rice is by far the chief crop; sweet potatoes, vegetables, corn and peanuts are also grown. Commercial crops include coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton and tea

Education

5 years compulsory and free secondary education comprises a further 3 years as done "upper primary" education. Plans are afoot to increase the secondary phase to 4 years

Health

the health hub works with the ministry of public health and development partners to explore options for integrating the fragmented health financing mecharsims to improve health coverage

Living Conditions

Laos is one of the poorest countries in the world with an estimated income in the late 1990s of about $2,000 per year. The population is mainly rural with 85 percent depending on agriculture, mostly subsistence rice cultivation. The Lao are largely engaged in wet rice agriculture, depending on seasonal rains to flood their fields.

Water buffalo are used to plow, and agricultural practices have changed little centuries. Mechanization in the form of water pumps and small tractors is just e over the beginning.

Rural homes are built on stilts to avoid flooding. They are made of wood or bamboo, often with walls of bamboo matting, and roofs of thatch or corrugated tin. Lao houses usually have little or no furniture. People sit, eat, and sleep on mats on the floor. Village houses are built close together, and farmers walk to their fields outside the village. There are no secrets in a small village, and gossip is a potent weapon to keep people in line.

Villages rarely have electricity or running water. Laos has great potential for hydroelectric power and currently exports electricity to Thailand. But the Lao buy electricity back from the Thai for their cities across the Mekong River from northeast Thailand, as Laos has no national power grid.

There are few roads, and some of these are impassable quagmires in the rainy season. Most transportation is by boat along the rivers. Ox carts are still common.

Health facilities are limited. Malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, and parasites are major problems. Life expectancy is about fifty for men and fifty-three for women. The Lao undoubtedly do better than minority (mainly rural) populations, as they are more likely to live in or near the cities or along transportation routes, and they continue to favour themselves at the expense of minorities.



Natural Resources

timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold and gemstones

Environment Issues

unexploded ordnance; deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water