This landlocked, Southeast Asian country has a remarkable but turbulent history and fascinating culture. One of the last remaining socialist states, this communist nation is famous for its forested landscapes, natural beauty and friendly, laidback locals. So, whether you are planning a trip or are just curious to learn more. Here are some of the most interesting facts about Laos.
7 Interesting Facts about Laos
1. Laos is in Southeast Asia
Laos – officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic – is a country in Southeast Asia. This region is composed of eleven countries: Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. The capital and largest city of Laos is Vientiane. The population of Laos, as of January 2022, is 7,440,504. Laos has the youngest population of all Asian countries. Around 70 per cent of the population is under 30 years old.
2. Laos is landlocked
Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. All of the other countries in Southeast Asia have coastlines. Myanmar and China border Laos to the northwest. Vietnam is to the east, Cambodia to the southeast, and Thailand to the west and southwest.
3. Laos is a socialist state
Landlocked Laos is one of the world’s few remaining socialist states. There are just five remaining ‘communist’ countries in the world – Laos, North Korea, China, Vietnam and Cuba. Communist forces overthrew the monarchy in 1975, and they have been ruling ever since. The government has one legal political party – the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The head of state is President Thongloun Sisoulith, who is also the General Secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.
4. Dok Champa is the national flower of Laos
The pretty, yellow and white Dok Champa is the national flower of Laos. Scientifically known as plumeria rubra, you might know it by the name frangipani. The meaning of Dok Champa for Laotians is joy in life and sincerity. You’ll see these flowers all over monasteries in Laos or you might receive one as a welcome gesture.
5. Laos is the most bombed nation in history
Between 1964 and 1973, Laos became, per capita, the most heavily bombed country in the world. Americans dropped over two million tonnes of bombs during the Vietnam War — a tonne for each person living in Laos at the time. This is more than all the bombs dropped during WWII combined. The U.S. bombing of Laos was part of a “covert attempt by the CIA to wrest power from the communist Pathet Lao”, according to the History Channel.
6. The Laos flag is full of meaning
The Laos flag consists of three horizontal stripes – red, dark blue, and red. A white circle is in the centre of the blue stripe. The red stripes represent the blood shed by the people of Laos during the struggle for freedom and independence from the French. The blue stripe represents prosperity. The white circle represents justice and the unity of the Lao people. It also symbolises a full moon against the Mekong River. The current flag was adopted in 1975 and is one of the few communist-style flags not featuring a star.
7. The mighty Mekong River flows through Laos
The mighty Mekong River runs through Laos. It is 4,350km long and the longest river in Southeast Asia. It is the 7th longest river in Asia and the 12th longest in the world. In southern Laos, there is a group of islands in the Mekong River called Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands), many of which are underwater during monsoon season.