Laos is a nation of around 6.8 million people located in Asia, surrounded by Thailand, Cambodia, China, Vietnam and Myanmar. The official name for the country is the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. How many of these Laos facts did you know?
- Muay Lao is recognized as Laos’ national sport: This form of martial arts is quite similar to Muay Thai, which is perhaps more well known internationally. However, in terms of popularity, soccer is the most followed sport in Laos.
- Sticky rice – also known as glutinous rice – is considered a key staple in the diet of Laotians: It is believed that cultivation of sticky rice began in Laos before spreading across other parts of Asia. Up to 85% of rice grown in the country is sticky rice.
- While the official language of Laos is Lao, only around half of the population can speak it: Those who cannot – particularly residents outside of cities – typically speak languages of ethnic minorities. The alphabet of the Lao language is quite similar to Thai script.
- There are no railways in Laos – with the exception of a short length of track on a bridge linking the country to Thailand: However, the nation does have several international airports, of which the largest is Wattay International Airport.
- Tourism is a major source of income for Laos, with the sector expanding rapidly in recent years: In 1990, Laos welcomed around 80,000 foreign arrivals, and this number grew to 1.88 million by 2010.
- Perhaps one of Laos’ most famous exports are the Beerlao beverages which are shipped to countries all over the world: Domestically, a form of rice whisky named Lao-Lao is particularly popular.
- Laos remains one of the few dedicated socialist states in the world, with the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party the only legal political party: While elections are periodically held, many observers question their validity.
- Across all of South-East Asia, Laos is actually the only nation completely landlocked: Laos is covered by many mountain ranges, the tallest peak in the country being Phou Bia at 2,819 metres.
- During the Laotian Civil War, the CIA set up a military base named Long Tieng close to Phou Bia: At its peak, the base was home to over 40,000 people – effectively making it the second most-populated city in Laos. A 2008 film titled The Most Secret Place on Earth was released that covered the history of the base.
- A cave in northern Laos was the site of the discovery of the oldest human fossil found anywhere in South-East Asia: The find was made in the Tam Pa Ling Cave in 2012 and was dated at 46,000 years old.