Laos – geography
Laos is a mountainous country and can naturally be divided into three geographical zones. To the north is a large highland with The clay pot plain. To the east, the Annamite Chain (Truong Song) mountain range forms the border with Vietnam. The area is sparsely populated and impassable; during the Vietnam War, the Ho Chi Minh Trail went here. To the west runs the Mekong surrounded by fertile river plains; over long stretches the river forms the border with Thailand. Here are most of the country’s agricultural areas, and here are the major cities.
Laos is located in the monsoon belt with rainy season from May to October. The precipitation varies from over 3000 mm in the eastern and northern mountains to 1000-1800 mm in Luang Prabang and on Lerkrukkesletten. In the winter months from November to February, temperatures can drop to freezing in the highest valleys, but the lower areas have tropical climates. More than half of the country is covered by forest, but increased deforestation, continued sweating and planned hydropower plants pose a serious danger to both forests and the previously rich wildlife. However, the lack of infrastructure in large areas means that much forest is intact.
In addition to the forest and the land, only a few of the country’s natural resources have been exploited. After the country reopened for foreign investment, geological studies have shown that iron, copper, tin, oil, zinc, phosphorus and precious stones are found in the subsoil. In addition, the mountains with heavy rainfall and deep valleys provide good opportunities for the construction of hydropower plants. The Nam Ngum dam north of Vientiane supplies the city and the province with electricity and produces enough for a significant export to Thailand. Two other large hydroelectric power plants in Saravan and Khammuan have also started exporting electricity to Thailand, while approximately 20 other hydropower plants and a large lignite-fired power plant are either under construction or on the drawing board.
The Nam Theun 2 dam east of Vientiane is under construction with Thailand (which will absorb most of the power), foreign power companies and the World Bank as investors. However, environmental, political and technical difficulties have delayed the huge project. For most years, electricity is the main commodity in Laos’ exports (32% in 2000).
Finance, infrastructure and aid
Although only 10% of the area can be cultivated, 80% of the population gets their livelihood from the land. The cultivation methods are outdated and the majority of the production is completely dependent on the rain. This is a strong contributor to the fact that more than half of the population lives on a subsistence level and that the country is among the poorest in the world. In the lowlands, rice, corn, wheat, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, pineapple, coffee and tea are grown. In addition, large areas are laid out for poppies and hemp for opium and marijuana production. Food production is unstable and significant quantities of rice have to be imported.
Another aspect of poverty and lack of development is the country’s infrastructure. There are no railways and no direct access to ports. The road network is only sparsely developed, and a large part of it is impassable during the rainy season. River transport on the Mekong and its many tributaries play a crucial role. In 1994, the 1240-meter-long Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, funded by Australia, opened between Nong Khai in Thailand and Vientiane.. In addition, a large part of the foreign aid is prioritized for road construction. An extension of the railway from Nong Khai over the Friendship Bridge to Vientiane has been planned. Foreign aid accounts for no less than two-thirds of the state budget. After the Communist takeover in 1975, most aid came from Russia and Eastern Europe. This assistance has now almost completely ceased and been replaced by the assistance of donors such as UNDP and UNICEF. Among the bilateral donors, Japan, France, the United States and Sweden are the most important. There is now a strong focus on tourism as a source of income, and foreign investors have built a number of hotels of international standard.
Laos – people
The indigenous people of Laos are represented by Khmer-speaking groups (primarily Khmhu), which today make up approximately 25% of the country’s population. They live predominantly on the mountain sides and feed mostly on sweat farms with rice as the main crop, but supplement the nutrition with fishing in the rivers as well as hunting and gathering. Their traditional religion is centered around the cult of local spirits. The majority of the country’s population (about 65%) consists of Thai-speaking peoples, as of 1100-t. and forward immigrated from Yunnan in southern China, and for whom it eventually succeeded in establishing itself as rulers in most parts of the country. The majority of the Tai people are Buddhists and belong to the ethnic grouplao, which also makes up the majority population of northeastern Thailand.
- Countryaah: Do you know how many people there are in Laos? Check this site to see population pyramid and resident density about this country.
During the 1800’s. additional people immigrated from the north. It was primarily the Sino-Tibetan tribes of Hmong and Yao who now live in the mountains of the northern and central parts of the country. They make their living by sweating, and the widespread cultivation of opium poppies for the extraction of opium in the Golden Triangle has intensified the antagonism of the Lao-dominated government. Other late immigrant peoples in the northern parts of the country include Tibeto-Burmese tribal peoples, including akha and lolo. The political and cultural dominance of the Thai/Lao people is indirectly reflected in the official ethnic description, according to which the country’s population is divided into three main groups: lao lum, which is the lowland population, ie. predominantly lao, and which is considered to feed exclusively on sum-price cultivation, lao theung, which inhabits the mountainsides, and which mainly includes the mon-khmer-speaking khmu, and lao sung, the highland peoples, viz. hmong and yao as well as the tibeto-burmese people. The latter two groups, which are predominantly swede users, are officially said to be responsible for the majority of forest deforestation in the country, while state and international consortia in fact account for a very significant share of deforestation.
Laos – language
The official language is Lao, spoken by approximately 1.5 million and acts as lingua franca. The Lao Lum population also includes other Tai languages, such as tai daeng, tai dam and tai neua (approximately 1 million). The Lao theung group (about 600,000) speaks predominantly Mon-Khmer languages. Most common is khmu; in addition, hat, bridge, kataang and kui. The Lao sung group speaks hmong-mien language(approximately 230,000) and Tibeto-Burmese languages (approximately 60,000). In addition, in the larger cities, Chinese- and Vietnamese-speaking minority groups. For culture and traditions of Laos, please check animalerts.