Country Profile: Laos
Other CitiesBan Nape, Salavan, Pakxe, Phongsali, Louangphrabang
AreaTotal 236,800 km2
Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. As a French colony at one time, Laos would gain their independence from France in 1949.
The economy of Laos relies heavily on investment and trade with its neighbors, Thailand, Vietnam, and, especially in the north, China.
The major roads connecting the major urban centres, in particular Route 13, have been significantly upgraded in recent years, but villages far from major roads are accessible only through unpaved roads that may not be accessible year-round. There is limited external and internal telecommunication, but mobile phones have become widespread in urban centres.
Farming and Agriculture
Agriculture is the main industry in Laos, with rice being the main product produced. Agriculture accounts for nealry half of the nation's GDP and employes over 80% of the total workforce. There are estimated to be over 1,000 different varieties of rice in Laos, this has attracted much scientific research to their small nation. Because of government created economic reform policies and foreign investment, the economy of LAOS has grown tremendously over the past decade and will continue to do so in the future as well.
Energy and Resources
Laos imports most of its energy, but hey are rich in terms of mineral resources. Metallurgy is also an important industry and the government hopes to attract foreign investment to develop the substantial deposits of coal, gold, bauxite, tin, copper and other valuable metals in the country. In addition, the country's plentiful water resources and mountainous terrain enable it to produce and export large quantities of hydroelectric energy. Due to the limited amounts of oil and natural gas in the country and becasue of the success of their hydroelectric industry, Laos has undergone research and studies to develop other forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar energy.
Culture and Tradition
One of the dominant cultural influences in Laos is Theravada Buddhism, it is reflected throughout the country from language to the temple and in art, literature, performing arts, etc. Many elements of Lao culture predate Buddhism, however. Furthermore, the country has two World Heritage Sites, Luang Prabang and Vat Phou. The government is seeking the same status for the Plain of Jars as well. Likewise, rice is the staple food and has cultural and religious significance. There are many traditions and rituals associated with rice production in different environments, and among many ethnic groups.
In the future, Laos looks to expand its economy and more specifically, its renewable energy and tourism industries. Aside from looking to become an Asian leader in the tourism industry, Laos sees their nation as well ahead of the rest of Asia in terms of hydroelectric power, a completely clean and renewable energy resource. Laos indeed has a very bright future ahead of them and will maintain their proud history and culture, while expanind their nation beyond new borders and goals.
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