Laos is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. Vientiane, the capital, is the site of the That Luang monument, where a reliquary reportedly houses the Buddha’s breastbone, plus the Patuxai war memorial and Talat Sao (Morning Market), a complex jammed with food, clothes and craft stalls.
Geography. Laos, a landlocked nation that covers 236,800 square kilometers in the center of the Southeast Asian peninsula, is surrounded by Burma, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its location has often made it a buffer between more powerful neighboring states, as well as a crossroads for trade and communication.
Key cities in Laos include Vientiane, Savannakheat, Pakxe, Thakhek, Muang Xai, Luang Prabang, Xam Neua, Phonsavan, Vang Vieng, and Muang Pakxan.
Historical, Cultural facts & Religion
Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang (Million Elephants), which was founded in the 14th century by a Lao prince Fa Ngum, who, with 10,000 Khmer troops, took over Vientiane. Within 20 years of its formation, the kingdom expanded eastward to Champa and along the Annamite mountains in Vietnam.
Animist traditions are also very strong in Laos with the belief in traditional spirits being a common cultural tie among the Lao Loum, Lao Theung and Lao Sung although such beliefs are strictly organized according to local traditions. Collectively the Lao belief in spirits is referred to as Santana Phi.
Brief Country History
The earliest inhabitants of Laos were hunter-gatherers. Later they were farmers growing rice and pulses. The first farmers used stone tools but from about 2,000 BC bronze was used in Laos and from about 500 BC iron.
However, unlike Vietnam, the people of Laos were influenced by Indian rather than Chinese culture. From the 1st century AD, Indian merchants introduced Theravada Buddhism into Laos. From the 9th to the 13th century the Khmers from Cambodia ruled much of what is now Laos. However, in the 14th century, the ancestors of today’s Laotians founded a kingdom called Lan Xang. The first king was the ambitious Chao Fa Ngum, who was succeeded by his son Phaya Samsenthai in 1373. He ruled until 1421 and under him Lan Xang became a prosperous kingdom. Unfortunately, his successors were less skillful rulers. In the 16th century, Lan Xang was threatened by Burma but it managed to retain its independence. In the 17th century, greatness was restored to Lan Xang by Souriyavongsa (1637-1694). His long reign is seen as a golden age. During it Lan Xang was powerful and prosperous. However, when Souriyavongsa died in 1694 he did not leave an heir.
In the early 18th century Lan Xang split into 3 regions centered on Luang Prang in the north, Vientiane in the middle and Champasak in the south. When it was divided in that way Laos was weakened and fell prey to Siam (Thailand). In 1779 Siamese forces occupied Vientiane. Afterward the three Laotian states were dominated by Siam (Thailand).
In 1804 Anouvong became king of Vientiane. By 1825 Anouvong was determined to overthrow Siamese domination and restore the kingdom of Lan Xang. In 1827 he advanced into Siam but was defeated and forced to retreat. Anouvong fled to Vietnam. Several months later he returned to Vientiane but was captured by the Siamese (Thais) ending all hope of a restored Lan Xang.
A full Communist regime was introduced. However, in 1988 the government of Laos introduced market reforms. As a result, the economy of Laos began to grow rapidly. Today Laos is still a poor country but it is developing rapidly and poverty is declining. Laos also has great potential for tourism. Meanwhile, Laos joined ASEAN in 1997. It joined the WTO in 2013. Today the population of Laos is 7 million.
Language (s) Written & Spoken
Vientiane Lao is the dialect that is widely understood and upon which the Lao vocabulary is based. Several languages used in Laos and Thailand are closely related to Lao such as Tai Daeng, Phu Thai, Tai Dam, and Nyaw.
Important Types of Commerce in Laos
The Lao PDR has relatively little industry. This sector employed only 3.3 percent of the workforce in 1995. There is no heavy industry and much of the country’s industry is comprised of smaller companies. In 1999, there were only 108 establishments in the whole country with more than 100 employees. However, there were 19,797 establishments with fewer than 9 employees. These small establishments are involved primarily in the production of textiles and handicrafts. Laos is well known for the high quality of its aesthetically attractive textiles. Even though the industry plays a small role in the Lao economy, its importance has increased significantly. In 1987, industry represented only 11 percent of the GDP of the Lao PDR, while in 1999, it represented 22 percent, doubling since the introduction of the New Economic Mechanism policy.
Language Services US and others will provide working with Laos
Whether in Laos for a conference, an exhibition or another business event professional language service is a must-have for ensuring smooth and well-informed business communications. A Vientiane Lao Language services provider is required to ensure access to well-translated documents as well as high-quality interpretations. Whether you require simultaneous interpretation services for an international summit at a Convention Center or plan to wine and dine special prospects and clients at the gorgeous Hotel, a Vientiane Lao language service provider will ensure all your materials are organized and that your presentations, speeches, and demos move forward without a hitch.
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