Lao - Facts about Laos


Vientiane. Population: 663,000 (UN estimate 2001).


GMT + 7 Area: 236,800 sq. km (91,400 sq. miles).


Laos is a noncoastal country bordered to the north by China, to the east by Vietnam, to the south by Cambodia, and to the west by Thailand and Myanmar. Apart from the Mekong River plains, along the border of Thailand the country is mountainous, commonly in the north, and in places is thickly forested.


The official language is Lao. Though, many tribal languages are also spoken. French, Vietnamese, and some English are in circulation.


The Laos-Lum (Valley Laos) people follow the Hinayava (Theravada) form of Buddhism. The religions of the Laos-Theung (Laos of the mountain tops) categorized from traditional Confucianism to animism and Christianity.


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Social Conventions:

Religious attitude should be respected. Lao people should not be touched on the head. Handshaking is not that common, Lao people greet each other with their palms together and a slight bowing of the head. Be careful when talking politics and related subjects in conversation not to cause offense. During temple tour, shorts or daring clothes are not acceptable. It is advice to always carry an ID document or a passport, and penalties for not having one for identifications. The Lao Government not allowing sexual relationships, including sexual contact between foreign citizens and Lao nationals, except when the two parties have been married in subject with Lao family law. Penalties for forgetting to register a relationship range from fines to imprisonment.