In the heart of the Indochina peninsula, the Lao PDR is a landlocked country of about 236,800 square kilometers. Its longest borders are with Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the east; it is also bordered by China to the north, Cambodia to the south and Myanmar to the northwest.
The Lao PDR is heavily forested and mountainous. There is an abundance of rivers including a 1,900-kilometre section of Mekong River. The terrain is a mostly rugged mountain with its highest point at 2,820 meters, which gives the country hydroelectric potential
Forest and woodland cover 47% of the land area, The Lao PDR also has natural resources, including coal, hardwood timber, hydropower, gypsum, tin, gold and gemstones. These resources all play a significant part in the economy.
The climate is tropical monsoon and has three distinct seasons. The cool season lasts from October to February, when the average temperature drop to about 16 degrees Celsius. The hot season is from the end of February to April when the temperature in the south can reach 40 degrees. The rest of the year is the rainy monsoon season. 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 Lao PDR has a population of approximately 6.77 million. Around 80% are employed in agriculture and live in rural areas. There are 3 main ethnic categories: Lao Loum (Low Land Lao), Lao Thueng (Lower Mountain Dwellers), and Lao Soong (High Land Lao). The great majority of Lao are Buddhist.
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 (50Hz) 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. Kip is available in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000 and 100,000. Coins are not used. 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 the bank, since there is no automatic teller machine in Laos just yet.