Landlocked in the center of the Indochinese peninsula, Laos borders China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. It covers an area of 236,800 km², stretching almost 1,500 km from north to south.
The Mekong, an essential route for trade and communication crosses the country over a distance of 1,898 km (4,350 km for the entire river), and forms the border with Thailand for the most part.
The Laotian territory is made up of two main regions, built around large limestone or sandstone plateaus :
The northern half of the country is generally quite mountainous and largely forested. It is crossed by the Mekong River from the west and its many tributaries, giving life to the Lao people. The capital, Vientiane, and the city of Luang Prabang are located here. The capital is home to 1/3 of the country's urban population and is the administrative capital of Laos.
The southern half of the country, narrow and elongated, is only a hundred kilometers wide in places. It is bounded to the west by the Mekong River and to the east by the Annamite Cordillera, which forms the border with its' neighbor, Vietnam. Furthermore, situated in the south of the country lies The Bolaven Plateau. A fertile, temperate region, ideal for high-altitude crops such as coffee. In the far south of the country, the Mekong divides into a multitude of arms, forming several hundred islands and a magnificent waterfall.
Laos is a sparsely populated country (17 inhabitants per km²). The population is unevenly dispatched over the entire country and is more than 78% rural.
Laos has about 80 ethnic groups that can be grouped into 3 large families. Each of them speaking their own dialect, has their own customs, traditions and religious beliefs.
Lao-Lum (75% of the population, inhabitants of the lower plains)
Lao- Theung (inhabitants of the middle-altitude lands)
Lao-Soung (inhabitants of the mountains)
Elderly Laotian Lady