Laos: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country Laos.

LAOS

NITTY GRITTY

Location--A landlocked nation in Southeast Asia, surrounded by Thailand, Burma, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

How Created--The Kingdom of Laos, originally Lane Xang (Land of a Million Elephants), was formed in the 14th century. Wars with neighboring peoples frequently altered its borders. In the early 19th century, the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand) established control over Laos, but the French seized it from the Thai in 1893. France made Laos part of its Union of Indochina and established the kingdom's current borders. In 1946 some Laotian leaders unsuccessfully declared independence but the French did not grant even limited independence until 1949.

Size--91,400 sq. mi. (236,800 sq. km.).

Population--3.2 million: Lao, 62.2%; Thai, 5.4%; Khmu, 5.4%; Phouteng, 5.4%; Miao, 3.2%; Sui including Alak, 3.2%; Loven, 3.2%; others and unknown, 12%. Mostly Buddhist and Animist.

Who Rules--Laos is a constitutional monarchy. Since September, 1973, it has been governed by a coalition of the leftist Pathet Lao and the rightist, pro-American factions that previously ran the Royal Lao Government. Before the cease-fire each group governed the zone it militarily controlled. A 13-man Cabinet, headed by pro-Western "neutralist" Prince Souvanna Phouma (Prime Minister), governs the country, but the 42-member Joint Political Consultative Council, headed by the Pathet Lao's Prince Souphanouvong, has an equal voice in setting policy.

"Pathet Lao" is the informal, historical name for the Lao Patriotic Front, the Neo Lao Hak Xat.

Who REALLY Rules--The Pathet Lao is the dominant force in Laos.

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