A French colony until 1953, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is a landlocked country in southeast Asia bordered by Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the southeast and Thailand to the west and southwest.
The economy depends heavily on investment and trade with Thailand, Vietnam and China. Although rich in mineral resources, the majority of Lao’s economy and employment still depends on subsistence agriculture. The tourism industry is also growing rapidly and is expected to contribute a much larger share to the national economy.
In Laos, the politically and culturally dominant Lao people make up the majority of the population, and reside mostly in the lowlands. The other ethnic groups represented, who reside mostly in the foothills and mountains are the Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes.