39 Quick Facts about Laos

Laos is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for its mountainous terrain. Vientiane, the laid-back capital, is the site of That Luang, plus the Patuxai war memorial and Talat Sao Morning Market. Here are 39 interesting facts about Laos.

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    Laos Flag

    Three horizontal bands of red (top), blue (double width), and red with a large white disk centered in the blue band; the red bands recall the blood shed for liberation; the blue band represents the Mekong River and prosperity; the white disk symbolizes the full moon against the Mekong River, but also signifies the unity of the people under the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, as well as the country's bright future

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    The People

    The mountainous, landlocked region of present-day Laos was inhabited by the end of the first millennium AD by the Lao people, who belong to the Tai language group. They are believed to have migrated from southern China. In fact, Laos forms an ethnic mosaic with its numerous highland groups. Each of them has their own belief systems and cultural expressions, including ceremonies and dances.

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    Laos is surrounded by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma. It is twice the size of Pennsylvania. Laos is a mountainous country, especially in the north, where peaks rise above 9,000 ft (2,800 m). Dense forests cover the northern and eastern areas. The Mekong River, which forms the boundary with Burma and Thailand, flows through the country for 932 mi (1,500 km) of its course.

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    Theravada Buddhist is the major religion in this country. With just over five million inhabitants, Laos is one of the least populated countries in the region.

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    Main Occupation

    Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. They rely on the rich fertile soil along the 1,865 kilometers segment of the Mekong River that flows through Laos. The Mekong is therefore the country’s main thoroughfare.

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    Mekong River

    At around 2,703 miles, the Mekong River is the twelfth longest river in the world and the seventh longest in Asia. It flows through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Its source is the Lasagongma Spring near Mount Guozongmucha in China. It ends at the South China Sea.

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    Lao kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Kao

    Fa Ngum established the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Kao in 1354 AD. Loosely translated this name means 'Land of a Million Elephants under the White Parasol' and referred to the kingdom's military prowess. In ancient times elephants were like the tanks of today and considered the ultimate weapon. To claim to be the 'Land of a Million Elephants' meant you were claiming near invincibility.

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    Plain of Jars

    Plain of Jars is an area where there are over 300 giant jars of unknown origin. The jars vary in size and weight and from 2.5 to 11 meters in height. It is thought they must be over 1000 years old and used as a burial ground, although this is just a theory.

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    That Luang Shrine

    That Luang Shrine, which means great Sacred Stupa, is a golden dome believed to contain a relic of Lord Buddha. The Luang Festival occurs annually on the full moon of November and continues for seven days and nights with traditional performances.

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    The official language of Laos is Lao, which sounds similar to Thai. Many of the older generation speak French, while the younger generation speak English as well as their native languages.

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    Mittaphab Bridge

    The construction of the bridge began in 1991 and officially opened in April 1994. It is 1,240 meters in length with 1,174 meters over water and 12.7 meters wide and spans across the Mekong River between Laos-Thailand. In English the name means "The Friendship Bridge".

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    The Khmu People

    Khmu villages can be very big with up to 150 families. They are traditionally settled on forested slopes, between 400 and 800 meters above the sea level. A river and a large territory for sticky rice growing are the main criteria for choosing a village's location.

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    Lao People's Democratic Republic

    Laos gained independence in 1949 after a period as a French protectorate. Laos traces its history back to the Kingdom of Lan Xang, which existed from the 14th-18th centuries.

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    Wat Phou Hindu temple

    Wat Phou, sometimes spelt Wat Phu, is a Khmer Hindu temple in south Laos. It is located at the foot of Mount Phu Kao, about six km from the Mekong River.

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    Nong Fa Lake

    Nong Fa Lake is a volcanic crater lake located about 3,786 feet above sea level in the mountains about 39 miles from the border of Vietnam. Although its depth is reported to be 256 feet, the locals claim the depth is unknown. They also believe the lake is home to a giant snake-pig that will eat anyone who bathes in the water.

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    Phou Bia

    Phou Bia is 2,819 meters high and is in the Xiangkhouang Province. The mountain sees extremely few outside visitors, due to the fact that it is a restricted area near the unused Long Chen air base. The area is covered by jungle, and has been used by Hmong guerilla soldiers.

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    The Bokeo Province is located in northwestern Laos. Sapphires have been mined in the province since the fourteenth century. One of the best known mines is Ban Huay Xai. The mining is an important part of the economy.

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    The Lamvong is a dance in which people rotate around in a circle, slowly moving arms, legs and bending fingers to the music. You move your hands in opposite directions, one to the left and one to the right and also move your legs in time to the rhythm.

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    Internet services are available in big cities and tourist sites. But the connection sometime is not so smooth. Currently the charge is between 01 to 02 US dollars per hour.

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    Pimai, the Lao New Year, is the country’s most important holiday. The three-day celebration usually takes place in mid-April and is characterized by the ceremonial washing of Buddha statues in temples. Other festivals include the Baci ceremony, the Rocket festival, the October Water Festival on the Mekong River, and the weeklong That Luang Festival.

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    Wat Si Muang

    Wat Si Muang is one of Vientiane’s popular tourist destinations. This Buddhist temple is built on the ruins of an earlier Khmer Hindu shrine, traces of which can still be seen. The current temple, built in 1563, is said to be guarded by a spirit: that of a pregnant local girl named Nang Si, who is said to have been sacrificed at the time the temple was built.

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    City of Sandalwood

    Historically, Vientiane’s name meant “City of Sandalwood”, but these days the capital of Laos is better known as the “City of the Moon”. The Moon and sandalwood may not, at first, seem to have much in common, but the association comes from the fact that the words for both “Moon” and “sandalwood” are spelled and pronounced identically.

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    Laos has a single-party communist government, in which the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) is the only legal political party. An eleven-member Politburo and a 61-member Central Committee make all laws and policies for the country.

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    The Republic of Laos has approximately 6.5 million citizens, who are often divided according to altitude into lowland, midland, and upland Laotians.

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    The climate of Laos is tropical and monsoonal. It has a rainy season from May to November, and a dry season from November to April.

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    Lao Kip is the currency of Laos since 1952. It is further divided into 100 att. The first Lao Kip was introduced in 1945-46, just before the region came under the control of French authorities.

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    Literacy Rate

    The total literacy rate of Laos is 73%. The National University of Laos is the Laos state's public university.

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    National Emblem of Laos

    The national emblem of Laos depicts the shrine of Pha That Luang. It also pictures a dam, which is a symbol of power generation, an asphalt street and a stylized watered field. On the bottom is the gear wheel and the inscription on the left reads, “Peace, Independence, Democracy” and on the right , “Unity and Prosperity”. The emblem was modified in 1991 by replacing the communist red star, hammer and sickle by Pha That Luang.

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    New Year

    The Laotian New Year celebration is a 3-day-long festival held from April 13 to 15.

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    World’s Most Bombed Country

    Laos has been tagged as the “World’s Most Bombed Country.” Over two billion tons of bombs were dropped in Laos during the Vietnam War.

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    Highest Point

    The highest point in Laos, the Phou Bia, is unfortunately not open to tourists because it is filled with un-exploded ammunition.

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    Most meals in Laos are based on sticky rice. The locals roll it into balls in the palm of their hand and then dip it in delicious sauces. This more or less means you can play with your food in public.

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    When shopping in Laos, you can pay not only with the Laotian currency, the Lao kip, but also with Thai bahts and US dollars.

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    Laotian Lattes

    Laos is home to the best coffee is South East Asia. In fact, coffee is its biggest export. The fact that they serve it with condensed milk takes it to a whole new level of sweet-trippin’-caffeine-shaky goodness.

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    Khone Phapheng waterfall

    The Khone Phapheng waterfall situated in Laos is the largest waterfall in whole of Southeast Asia.

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    Sports in Laos is quite primitive as people play Kataw, which is like Volley Ball but instead of using the hands to play the sport, these people use their feet to kick a ball made up of woven bamboo to cross the net. Another sport is rhinoceros-beetle wrestling in which people bet on beetles to predict the last beetle standing.

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    King Cobra

    One of the few mystical creatures which reside in the wilds of Laos is one of world’s longest venomous snakes, King Cobra, which measures fourteen foot in length. Along with it, Irrawaddy Dolphins also are found in abundance here.

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    Oldest modern human fossil

    The oldest modern human fossil was found in a cave in northern Laos and is believed to have been 46,000 years old.

  39. 39


    Source: beer-lao.co.uk

    Beer Laos is one of Laos’ most internationally renowned exports. It also happens to be extremely cheap. One could even say dangerously cheap… A sneaky cold one will set you back just one measly buck.

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