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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Laos \Laos\ prop. n. a country in Southeast Asia.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

Southeast Asian land, from the name of legendary founder Lao. Related: Laotian.


Laos, ( , Pa Thēt Lāo) officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, (Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ, Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao) or commonly referred to its colloquial name of Muang Lao ( Lao: ເມືອງລາວ, Muang Lao) is a landlocked country in the heart of the Indochinese peninsula of Mainland Southeast Asia, bordered by Myanmar (Burma) and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west.

Present day Laos traces its historic and cultural identity to the kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao (Kingdom of a Million Elephants Under the White Parasol), which existed for four centuries as one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. Due to Lan Xang's central geographical location in Southeast Asia, the kingdom was able to become a popular hub for overland trade, becoming wealthy economically as well as culturally.

After a period of internal conflict, Lan Xang broke off into three separate kingdoms— Luang Phabang, Vientiane and Champasak. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three territories uniting to form what is now known as Laos. It briefly gained independence in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but returned to French rule until it was granted autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ended the monarchy, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975.

Laos is a one-party socialist republic. It espouses Marxism and is governed by a single party communist politburo dominated by military generals. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnam People's Army continue to have significant influence in Laos. The capital city is Vientiane. Other large cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and Pakse. The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up approximately 60 percent of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes, accounting for 40 percent of the population, live in the foothills and mountains.

Laos' ambitious strategies for development is based on generating electricity from its rivers and selling the power to its neighbors, namely Thailand, China, and Vietnam, as well as its initiative to become a 'land-linked' nation, shown by the planning of four new railways connecting Laos to those same countries. This, along with growth of the mining sector, Laos has been referred to as one of East Asia and Pacific's fastest growing economies by the World Bank, with annual GDP growth averaging 7% for the past decade.

It is a member of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), East Asia Summit and La Francophonie. Laos applied for membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1997; on 2 February 2013, it was granted full membership.

According to the anti-corruption non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Laos remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world. This has deterred foreign investment and created major problems with the rule of law, including the nation's ability to enforce contract and business regulation. This has contributed to a third of the population of Laos currently living below the international poverty line (living on less than US$1.25 per day). Laos has a low-income economy, with one of the lowest annual incomes in the world. In 2014, the country ranked 141st on the Human Development Index (HDI), indicating lower medium development. According to the Global Hunger Index (2015), Laos ranks as the 29th hungriest nation in the world out of the list of the 52 nations with the worst hunger situation(s). Laos has also had a poor human rights record.

Laos (disambiguation)

Laos is a country in southeast Asia.

Laos or LAOS may also refer to:

  • Lao River, a river of southern Italy
  • Laüs, an ancient Greek colony situated on the above river
  • Galangal, aka Laos, an oriental spice
  • Popular Orthodox Rally, known as LAOS, Greek right-wing populist/nationalist political party

Usage examples of "laos".

These alliterative expressions, collected by the linguist Martha Ratcliff, give some inkling of the intimate relationship the Hmong of Laos had with the natural world.

In Laos, the French colonial government encouraged them to pay their taxes in raw opium in order to supply the official lowland network of government-licensed opium dens.

No wonder that when Christian missionaries first came to Laos, they often found small, meticulously wrapped balls of opium in their offering plates.

In the 1950s, it was estimated that the Hmong of Laos were burning about four hundred square miles of land a year and, by letting the topsoil leach away, causing enough erosion to alter the courses of rivers.

Geneva Accords of 1954, signed after the French lost the battle of Dien Bien Phu, had recognized three independent states in what had formerly been French Indochina: Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, which was temporarily partitioned into northern and southern zones that were supposed to be reunited within two years.

In 1961, on his last day in office, Eisenhower told President-elect Kennedy that if Laos were to fall to communism, it would be only a matter of time before South Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma fell too.

The United States was anxious to support an anticommunist government in Laos and to cut the military supply line that the North Vietnamese ran to South Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a complex of roads and pathways in southeastern Laos, near the Vietnam border.

CIA recruited the most remote ethnic minority in Laos, one notorious for its lack of national consciousness, instead of the dominant lowland Lao.

In Laos, they had already proven their mettle as guerrillas during the Second World War, when they fought on the side of the Lao and the French during the Japanese occupation, and after the war, when, similarly allied, they resisted the Vietminh.

The CIA thus conveniently inherited a counterinsurgent network of Hmong guerrillas that the French had organized in northern Laos two decades earlier.

Finally, many Hmong had a huge personal stake in the war because they lived in the mountains surrounding its most crucial theater of operation: the Plain of Jars, a plateau in northeastern Laos through which communist troops from the north would have to march in any attempt to occupy the administrative capital of Vientiane, on the Thai border.

Some were forced into combat because bombing in northern Laos had obliged them to abandon their fields, and there was no other employment.

Hmong military base at Long Tieng, in northern Laos, to markets in Vientiane.

More than two million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos, mostly by American planes attacking communist troops in Hmong areas.

By 1970, forced to adapt their migratory habits to wartime, more than a third of the Hmong in Laos had become refugees within their own country.