Laos: The Kingdom of the “Milion Elephants”

General Information

Temples of Laos

Laos, also called the kingdom of the “Million Elephants” is a poor and fragile country, which is why those traveling in Laos must manifest all their respect by showing that the “foreigner” does not necessarily coincide with the concept of danger , so ‘as in the past when the US bombed the country without respect.

To fully appreciate the charm of the country you must be discreet, only on this way you can ‘capture the beauty of the temples that testify the former glory of the Lao Kingdom. Just so ‘you will love the wild mountain landscapes where they still live peoples who have not known the so-called’ civilization ‘. ” Laos is a country unique, offering the visitor a cultural trip or adventure, a country where the beauties of the past come together with a wild nature and where the different ethnic groups that inhabit the country contribute to make it absolutely charming and unique.

Paddies LaosLaos borders with five countries: China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar (formerly Burma), covers an area of ​​approximately 236,000 square kilometres and has a length from north to south of about 1000 km. Laos has a road network that extends for about 40,000 km of which only 10% is asphalted.

Population: The estimated population ‘of about 7.5 million inhabitants, and this makes Laos one of the least populated of the whole South-east Asia. With its 28 inhabitants per square km and Laos’ also one of the countries with the lowest population density.

Politics: the People’s Republic of Laos was officially proclaimed in 1975 and the executive power is exercised by the President and the Prime Minister. Legislative power and ‘exercised by the National Assembly consists of 115 members elected democratically by the people every five years.

Monks and Buddha sculptures in LaosEconomy: Laos agriculture remains the main source of income for about 78% of the population, production is rice which is also a staple food, followed by corn, tobacco, cotton and coffee. In addition to agriculture in Laos raises cows, pigs and buffalo. The industrial sector, although growing, for now is limited to the production of textiles due to low costs of production.

In Laos, the official language is Lao or Laotian which draws its origin from Sanskrit and Pali.

Nature in Laos

Laos has a wild nature that keeps intact all its biodiversity. The jungle of Laos is in fact populated by wild elephants, monkeys, tigers, pythons and bears blacks, while the freshwater dolphins live in the waters of the river Done Det. In the region of 4,000 islands were discovered several new species of animals including the rare striped rabbit of Annam, the snake and the rat Saola Laotian rock.

Ethnic groups of Laos

Ethnicities of LaosLaotian government has officially recognized 49 ethnic minorities, but the Laotians are divided into three main groups depending on the altitude at which they live.

Between different ethnic groups, we note the Lao Loum or “Laos of Basse Terre” that inhabit the plains, that is the most fertile land of Laos. These were originating in Thailand or the Shan from Myanmar. The Lao Loum account for 50-60% of the population and are mostly Theravada Buddhists, animists lesser extent.

Then there are the Lao Theung or “Laos of the Hills”, which are composed of different ethnic groups among which the most numerous are the Khamu that populate the north of Laos. Also on the north are the Htin ethnicity known for working with bamboo because of a cultural taboo that forbids them the use of metals.

Below we have the Lao Soung or “High Mountains of Laos” that inhabit the mountains more ‘high, including majority and’ represented by H’mong, people who have traditional clothes more ‘typical and colourful of Laos.

Kitchen and food of LaosReligion and Belief

The official religion in Laos is Theravada Buddhism, religion practised by about 70% of the population. This religion is based on the four Great Doubtful (birth, ageing, sickness and death) and was enacted in India by Siddhartha Gautama Buddha in the fifth century BC, Laotian Buddhists believe in reincarnation and the ideal is to reach Nirvana. The Laotians believe that doing good servant to ensure their good health. Doing good can precisely capture the merits (or boun), but because ‘this word also means “party”, many Laotians believe that it is enough to make the parties to acquire merits. In Laos the religious life is built around the monastic life and the monks have in general a very good prestige, are respected and even the government has always said that Buddhism is an integral aspect of Lao National.

Temples and nature in recent years LaosReligion is experiencing a true renewal and in fact we see the conversion of many animists who descended to the plains are fascinated by modern civilization especially under the influence of neighbour Thailand.

The animism or ancestor worship  is practised by about 30% of the population and one of the peculiarities of Laos is to live Buddhism with animist practices. The Laotians believe the fact phis (pronounced “pi”), this word means “spirit”. These spirits are respected and kept quiet building their small altars in the home garden and offering them food and drink so that they are happy and do no harm to ordinary mortals.

Health and vaccinations for Laos

In general there are no mandatory vaccines for travellers heading to Laos or Cambodia, but you should be covered with normal vaccinations (tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis).

It ‘s always recommended to bring with you some medicine against diarrhea, some painkillers, antibiotics and disinfectants bowel.

Mekong River in Laos LaosBest period to visit Laos ?

In Laos the tropical climate has only two seasons: the dry season from October to April, with temperatures averaging 26 ° C in the months from November to February and about 28 ° C in October and March. Between March and April in the lowlands, temperatures can rise up to 40 ° C.

The rainy season in Laos goes’ from May to September when the warm winds from the south take the humidity and rains, in this period, the North is the preferred destination.

The best time to visit Laos goes’ from November to March, when the temperature are more pleasing (24-28 ° C).

How to get a visa for Laos

The Visa for Laos you get at the airport or at the border of entry, you must have a photo ID and pay the government tax of $ 35.

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