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GEOGRAPHICAL BRIEFING

Location and area

  The Lao's People Democratic Republic is located in Indochina, between latitude 14-23 degrees North and longitude 100-108 degrees East. It has common borders with China (505km), Cambodia (435km), and Vietnam (2,069km).  

Lao PDR is 236,800 square km, the major part being mountainous and forested. The country is divided into three geographical areas: the Northern, the Central, and the Southern areas.  

The Mekong river flows through 1,865 km of Lao PDR territory and forms the major portion of the border with Thailand (1,835 km). 60% of the water entering this major river system originates in Lao PDR.  

The three highest "phu" (mountains) are all located in Xieng Khuang province. The highest is Phu Bia (2,820 km), then Phu Xao (2,690 km), and Phu Xamxum with 2,620 m. 


Population

  Lao PDR has a population of 4,474,000 inhabitants (projected 1993) comprising over 47 different ethnic groups, such as Hmong, Khmer, Yao, A'kha, Ikoh, Lu etc. Each tribe has its own distinctive customs, dialects and costumes.  
These minorities can be classified into three groups: 56% in Lao Lum (Lowlanders), 34% in Lao Theung (uplanders), and 9% Lao Soung (hill tribes 
The population density is 19.0 persons per square km, with a life expectancy of 50.9 years, and an adult literacy of 50% in 1992. 

Climate

Lao PDR has a tropical climate with only two distinctive seasons. From the early May to the end of September it's the rainy season, and from October to April it's the dry season.
The average temperature is about 28 degrees centigrade, but in may raise up to 38 degrees centigrade in April. In the mountainous area, however, the weather is cold from December to February, in the neighborhood of 15 degrees centigrade. 


Language

 
Travel, Voyage 
The official language is the LAO 
but English and French are also used, often for business purpose.