Laos – The Small Country in the Heart of Asia
Laos is a small country situated at the Southeastern part of Asia, bordering with China, Cambodia and Vietnam. The country’s official name is People’s Democratic Republic of Lao and bears a long history dating back to the 14th century.
The country is influenced by all the other surrounding countries, especially China, Vietnam and Thailand. Although when founded by the Dynasty of the Lan Xang it was clearly different, its history throughout the centuries enhanced the influences of the other ethnicities. Laos gained its independence in 1950, after being a French colony for hundreds of years. It was part of the Indochine, along with Vietnam, since 1890. However, the problems for the country were not solved as a long and devastating civil war tormented the population until 1975.
The name of the country is Lao, as in the local dialect there is no –s at the end of the word. The –s was added by the French and stayed like that for foreigners; this is how the country is referred to in every travel guide. However, since there is a small ethnical group called Lao, the name Laos remained predominant in foreign affairs.
The country boasts two of the most important UNESCO world heritage sites, the Vat Phou and the Prabang, although the major tourist attractions in the country are the famous Plains of Jar. Tourists who travel to Laos have the chance to get to know the culture and religion of the Therevada Buddhism which is the predominant religion in the country; its influence is obvious everywhere: all cultural and art events depict something of this religion, while literature dedicates a big part of it to the tradition.
Although Laos is a remote country in the heart of Asia, it is considered to be one of the most visited countries, mostly by Western Tourists.