Theme Week Laos

Monday, 21 September 2020 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage

Mekong River flowing through Luang Prabang © flickr.com - Allie Caulfield/cc-by-2.0

Mekong River flowing through Luang Prabang © flickr.com – Allie Caulfield/cc-by-2.0

Laos, officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao: Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxôn Lao), is a socialist state and the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. At the heart of the Indochinese peninsula, Laos is bordered by Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the southeast and Thailand to the west and southwest. It is a one-party socialist republic, espousing Marxism–Leninism governed by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, under which non-governmental organizations have routinely characterized the country’s human rights record as poor, citing repeated abuses such as torture, restrictions on civil liberties, and persecution of minorities. There is a distinct rainy season from May to November, followed by a dry season from December to April. Local tradition holds that there are three seasons (rainy, cold and hot) as the latter two months of the climatologically defined dry season are noticeably hotter than the earlier four months. The capital and largest city of Laos is Vientiane and other major cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and Pakse (Geography of Laos and List of cities in Laos). In 1993 the Laos government set aside 21 percent of the nation’s land area for habitat conservation preservation. The country is one of four in the opium poppy growing region known as the “Golden Triangle“. According to the October 2007 UNODC fact book Opium Poppy Cultivation in South East Asia, the poppy cultivation area was 15 square kilometres (5.8 sq mi), down from 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi) in 2006.

Present Laos traces its historic and cultural identity to Lan Xang, which existed from the 14th century to the 18th century as one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. Due to its central geographical location in Southeast Asia, the kingdom became a hub for overland trade, and became wealthy economically and culturally. After a period of internal conflict, Lan Xang broke into three separate kingdoms—Luang Phrabang, Vientiane, and Champasak. In 1893, the three territories came under a French protectorate and were united to form what is now known as Laos. It briefly gained independence in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but was recolonised by France until it won autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. A post-independence civil war began, which saw the communist resistance, supported by the Soviet Union, fight against the monarchy that later came under influence of military regimes supported by the United States. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the communist Pathet Lao came to power, ending the civil war. Laos was then dependent on military and economic aid from the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.

In Laos, the politically and culturally dominant Lao people make up 53.2% of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes live in the foothills and mountains. Laos’s strategies for development are based on generating electricity from rivers and selling the power to its neighbours, namely Thailand, China, and Vietnam, as well as its initiative to become a “land-linked” nation, as evidenced by the construction of four new railways connecting Laos and neighbours.Laos has been referred to as one of Southeast Asia and Pacific’s Fastest Growing Economies by the World Bank with annual GDP growth averaging 7.7% since 2009.

Champasak Palace Hotel in Pakse © Adam Carr Mekong River flowing through Luang Prabang © flickr.com - Allie Caulfield/cc-by-2.0 Muang Xay © Luisah Pha That Luang in Vientiane © flickr.com - Aaron Smith/cc-by-2.0 Vang Vieng viewed from hot air balloon © Tango7174/cc-by-sa-4.0 Vientiane © flickr.com - Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/cc-by-2.0
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Mekong River flowing through Luang Prabang © flickr.com - Allie Caulfield/cc-by-2.0
The tourism sector has grown rapidly, from 80,000 international visitors in 1990, to 1.876 million in 2010. Tourism is expected to contribute US$679.1 million to the gross national product in 2010, rising to US$1.5857 billion by 2020. In 2010, one in every 10.9 jobs was in the tourism sector. Export earnings from international visitors and tourism goods are expected to generate 15.5 percent of total exports or US$270.3 million in 2010, growing in nominal terms to US$484.2 million (12.5 percent of the total) in 2020. The official tourism slogan is “Simply Beautiful”. The main attractions for tourists include Buddhist culture and colonial architecture in Luang Prabang; gastronomy and ancient temples in the capital of Vientiane; backpacking in Muang Ngoi Neua and Vang Vieng; ancient and modern culture and history in the Plain of Jars region (main article: Phonsavan); Laos Civil War history in Sam Neua; trekking and visiting hill tribes in a number of areas including Phongsaly and Luang Namtha; spotting tigers and other wildlife in Nam Et-Phou Louey; caves and waterfalls near Thakhek; relaxation, the Irrawaddy dolphin and Khone Phapheng Falls at Si Phan Don or, as they are known in English, the Four Thousand Islands; Vat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple complex; and the Bolaven Plateau for waterfalls and coffee. The European Council on Trade and Tourism awarded the country the “World Best Tourist Destination” designation for 2013 for this combination of architecture and history.

Luang Prabang and Vat Phou are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, with the Plain of Jars expected to join them once more work to clear Unexploded ordnance has been completed. Major festivals include Lao New Year celebrated around 13–15 April and involves a Water Festival similar but more subdued than that of Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.

The Lao National Tourism Administration, related government agencies and the private sector are working together to realise the vision put forth in the country’s National Ecotourism Strategy and Action Plan. This includes decreasing the environmental and cultural impact of tourism; increasing awareness in the importance of ethnic groups and biological diversity; providing a source of income to conserve, sustain and manage the Lao protected area network and cultural heritage sites; and emphasizing the need for tourism zoning and management plans for sites that will be developed as ecotourism destinations. Laos is known for silk and local handicraft products, which are on display in Luang Prabang’s night market, among other places. Another specialty is mulberry tea.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on VisitLaos.org, LaosTourism.org, LonelyPlanet.com – Laos, History of Laos, Lao cuisine, Culture of Laos, Politics of Laos, Foreign relations of Laos, Human rights in Laos, Tourism in Laos, Wikitravel Laos, Wikivoyage Laos and Wikipedia Laos. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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