The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) has common borders with Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. Its population was estimated to be around 6.8 million in 2014. The capital city is Vientiane.
Lao people make up approximatively 60% of the population mostly living in the lowlands and Mon-Khmer groups and the Hmong and other indigenous hill tribes accounting for 40% of the population who live in the foothills and mountains.
Going back to history, the Lao prince Fa Ngum of the Kingdom of Lan Xang (Million Elephants) took over Vientiane in the 14th century. In 1637, Sourigna Vongsa ascended the throne.
In the late 19th century, Vientiane and the Kingdom of Champasak were part of the Protectorate of French Indonesia.
Then, the First Indochina War led to French defeat which liberated Laos at the Geneva Conference of 1954.
According to the anti-corruption non-governmental organization Transparency International, Laos remains one of the most corrupted countries in the world. As a result, this discouraged foreign investors to deal with Laos knowing the difficulties with business regulations.
This corruption generated a huge poverty with a third of the population currently living below the international poverty line (living on less than US$1.25 per day).
Laos knows environmental problems, particularly with deforestation for commercial and infrastructural reasons as well as the massive use of plants and wild animals for medical purpose.
Lao culture is mainly influenced by the Theravada Buddhism which is present in many cultural aspects such as language, temples, art, literature and performing arts.
Notwithstanding poverty, Laos has become a very touristic country (1.876 million tourists in 2010) especially the famous sites Luang Prabang and Wat Phu which are both part of the UNESCO World Heritage.