Reflecting a People’s Tradition and Change
PART I – Land and People of Laos
Laos lies at the crossroads of Indochina sharing borders with Thailand, Vietnam, China, Myanmar, and Cambodia. The Mekong River flows through almost the entire length of the country from north to south, creating a natural border with Thailand. P 1: Map of Laos Of its total land area (236,800 km2), 70% are mountain and plateau areas, which in the north rise to a maximum elevation of 2,820m with Mount Bia. To the east, the thickly forested Annamite chain forms the border to Vietnam. In the south, heights reach about 1,980m, of which the Boloven Plateau, covered by open woodland, has generally fertile soil. The only extensive lowlands lie along the eastern bank of the Mekong River that flows through nearly 2000 kilometres of Lao territory and has always been a lifeline for the country in terms of fish sup- plies, transportation routes, and agriculture. Several hydroelectric facilities, situ- ated on the tributaries of the Mekong, generate electricity for export to Thailand. Laos has the typical tropical monsoon climate of the region; forests support a rich wildlife, including elephants, gaurs (wild oxen), deer, bears, tigers and leopards, monkeys, and a large variety of birds. Laos has a population of 5.62 million (2005 PART I – LAND AND PEOPLE OF LAOS 14 census), and an estimated 6.677.534 in 2008, of which one quarter live in moun- tainous regions, whereas the majority of the population lives along the Mekong River and its branches. Laos’ population density is one of the lowest...
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