World and Its Peoples: Eastern and Southern Asia - Vol. 6

By Paul Bernabeo | Go to book overview

Laos

Although the Lao people have a long history, the nation-state of Laos is relatively
modern. Colonized by the French toward the end of the nineteenth century, Laos
comprised several small Lao states, which were eventually united into a single
kingdom that gained complete independence in 1954. Independent Laos suffered
civil war in which royalists fought Communist Pathet Lao forces. Vietnamese
Communists used Laos as supply route during the war in Vietnam in the 1960s
and 1970s, and the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam allowed the Pathet
Lao to seize power in Laos in 1975, establishing a Communist dictatorship. Since
the 1990s, Laos has undertaken economic reform, and the nation's economy is
now dominated by that of its larger western neighbor, Thailand.

GEOGRAPHY

LocationSoutheast Asia, between Thailand and Vietnam
ClimateTropical climate with little seasonal variation in temperature; wet monsoon season from May through November; dry season from December through April
Area91,429 sq. miles (236,800 sq. km)
CoastlineNone
Highest pointPhou Bia 9,248 ft (2,819 m)
Lowest pointBeside the Mekong River 230 ft (70 m)
TerrainMountains interspersed by plains and plateaus
Natural resourcesTimber, gypsum, tin, hydroelectric power potential

Wat Sayaphoum is the main temple of the city of Savannakhet.

FLAG

The national flag of Laos has three
horizontal bands: red at the top, blue
in the center, and red at the bottom
of the flag. The blue band is wider
than the red bands. There is a white
circle at the center of the blue band.
Red represents the blood shed by the
Communist Pathet Lao in their
armed struggle; blue represents
national wealth. The white circle is
variously said to represent national
unity, the future, or the full moon
shining over the Mekong River.

Land use
Arable land4.0 percent
Permanent crops0.3 percent
Other95.7 percent
Major riversMekong, Ou, Banghiang
Major lakeNgum reservoir
Natural hazardsFlooding, drought

NEIGHBORS AND LENGTH OF BORDERS

Cambodia338 miles (541 km)
China264 miles (423 km)
Myanmar (Burma)147 miles (235 km)
Thailand1,096 miles (1,754 km)
Vietnam1,331 miles (2,130 km)

-786-

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World and Its Peoples: Eastern and Southern Asia - Vol. 6
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 721
  • Contents 723
  • Geography and Climate 724
  • Cambodia 756
  • Laos 786
  • Vietnam 814
  • Further Research 858
  • Index 862
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