is a landlocked country in the center of Indochina. It shares borders with China
and Burma to
the north, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west and Vietname to the east.
Approximately 70% of its total area (236,800 square kilometers) comprises of mountain and plateaux areas. Mekong river (one of the longest rivers in the world) forms a natural border with Thailand. It flows through almost 1,900 kilometers of the territory of Laos.
It was estimated that, in 1999, the population of Laos was 4.8 million. Around 85% of the population are farmers and live in rural areas. There are 3 main ethnic categories: Lao Loum (low landers), Lao Thueng (lower mountain dwellers), and Lao Soong (high landers). The great majority of Lao are Buddhist.
Laos has a warm and tropical climate with two seasons: the rainy season from the beginning of May to the end of September and the dry season from October to April. The average temperature 29 degree centigrade. Maximum temperature can reach up to 40 degree centigrade. Temperatures can drop to as low as 15 degrees or even lower in mountains. Generally, tourists are recommended to visit Laos during the months of November to March because these are cool months and rainfall is lower than other periods.
The official language used in Laos is Lao language. However, the usage of the language can differ from north and south. English, French and Russian are spoken in business or by some senior government officials. Many shopkeepers can understand basic English and French.
Electricity & Water
Laos uses 220 volt (50 Hz) electricity for use with either two-pronged round or flat plugs. It is not recommended to drink directly from taps since it is not very clean. However, purified water is available throughout the country.
Lao national currency is Kip. There has been some devaluation of Lao Kip in the past few years. There are exchange booths available throughout town. Major credit cards are also accepted in large shops. You can also withdraw cash by using your credit cards, but it has to be done at a bank, since there is no automatic teller machine in Laos just yet.
Public phones are available in Vientiane and other major cities. You can also go to Lao Telecom office to call and fax overseas. Phone cards are widely available in most convenient stores. There are a number of Internet cafes in Vientiane and major cities. So you can be sure that you can always keep in touch with your family and friends.