Title: The Lao People's Democratic Republic

Population: 7,574,356

Population Change: 1.48

National Average Age: 24

Urban Percentage: 36

Christian Population: 145,000

Christian Percentage: 2.2

Introduction: Laos is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for mountainous terrain French colonial architecture hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. Vientiane the capital is the site of the That Luang monument where a reliquary reportedly houses the Buddha’s breastbone plus the Patuxai war memorial and Talat Sao (Morning Market) a complex jammed with food clothes and craft stalls.

Overview: Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang established in the 14th century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975 the communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997 and the WTO in 2013.