Laos – Land of Million Elephant
Area: 236,800 sq km
Population: 6,7 Million Nationals of Laos are known as Lao(s) or Laotian(s). The main ethnic groups are Lao (50%), tribal Thai (20%) and Phoutheung (15%). The predominant religion is Buddhist (85%).
The Temples, Monasteries and French villas of Vientiene and Luang Prabang set the scene in this timeless land. Except for lowlands along the Mekhong River, where most of the people live and there sparsely populated plateaus, the terrain is mountainous and thickly forested. From the fertile lowlands of the Maekong River valley to the rugged anamite highlands, travelers who have made it to Laos tend to agree that this country is the highlight of South- East Asia.
One of the world's poorest nations, Laos has had a Communist centrally planned economy with government ownership and control of productive enterprises of any size. In recent years, however, the government has been decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise. Laos is a landlocked country with a primitive infrastructure; that is, it has no railroads, a rudimentary road system, limited external and internal telecommunications, and electricity available in only a limited area. Subsistence agriculture is the main occupation, accounting for over 60% of GDP and providing about 85-90% of total employment. The predominant crop is rice. For the foreseeable future the economy will continue to depend for its survival on foreign aid from the IMF and other international sources; aid from the former USSR and Eastern Europe has been cut sharply.
The dry cool season begins end of October and lasts until end of
February, its necesary to bring pullover or jacket during this time as it can be very cool at night, especially in the mountainous areas such as Luang Prabang, the plain of jars, sevavane and Houeixai.
The hot season lasts from March – June, light cotton clothing and hat are recommended.
The rainy season starts in June and ends in October.
For visitors traveling between end of March and beginning of April, please note the mountainous areas where the slash and burn cultivation remained, the weather may be worse caused by smoke and domestic flights might by delayed or cancelled.
International Day : January 1
International Women Day : March 8
Lao New Year Day : April 13-15
Labor Day : May1
Boat Racing Festival Viengtiane : October 30
Laos National Day :December 2
The official language of Lao PDR is Lao. It is spoken in different part of the country the Vientiene dialect is understood throughout the country. In spite of the colonial past, French remains the second official language. English is in common use among business sectors and young generations.