Country of the World Laos

About the country Laos, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.

NATIONS AND THEIR RULERS

LAOS

NITTY-GRITTY

Lay of the Land: Laos is a landlocked nation nestled in the mountains of the Indochinese Peninsula of Southeast Asia. Most of the country is rugged, often densely forested, with the population concentrated in the Mekong River plains along the western border. The wet monsoon season, May to September, brings heavy rainfall.

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

Population: 3.5 million.

Who Rules: Since Dec. 2, 1975, Laos has been a People's Democratic Republic. Prince Souphanouvong, of the nation's traditional royal family, is president. Kaysone Phomvihan, leader of the Lao People's Revolutionary party, is prime minister.

Who REALLY Rules: The Lao People's Revolutionary party, formed by the Communist Pathet Lao in 1977 after a 23-year fight against the coalition government established after independence from the French in 1954, has firm control over much of the country. However, engineers and military personnel from the People's Republic of China dominate the northern section, where they are building a road, and right-wing guerilla fighters maintain control of some remote areas. Communist nations, including the U.S.S.R., Vietnam, and China, compete for influence in Laos, but the Pathet Lao developed most of their strength from their own people and thus are able to operate independently, while nonetheless courting the Russians more than the others.

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