|Lao People's Democratic Republic|
|Motto: "ສັນຕິພາບ ເອກະລາດ ປຊາທິປະໄຕ ເອກະພາບ ວັດທະນາຖາວອນ"
"Peace, Independence, Democracy, Unity and Prosperity"
|Anthem: Pheng Xat Lao
(and largest city)
|Official scripts||Lao script|
Communist single-party state
|-||Prime Minister||Thongsing Thammavong|
|-||Date||19 July 1949|
|-||Total||236,800 km2 (83rd)
91,428.991 sq mi
|-||2009 estimate||6,320,000 (101st)|
|GDP (PPP)||2009 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
|Gini (2008)||34.6 (medium)|
|HDI (2007)||0.619 (medium) (133rd)|
|Drives on the||right|
Laos (, , or ), officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. As of 2009 the country's population was estimated at 6.3 million.
Laos traces its history to the Kingdom of Lan Xang or Land of a Million Elephants, which existed from the 14th to the 18th century. After a period as a French protectorate, it gained independence in 1949. A long civil war ended officially when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975. The official language is Lao. Most people are Buddhist with a significant proportion of indigenous religion as well. It is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), East Asia Summit and La Francophonie.
In the Lao language, the country's name is "Meuang Lao (ເມືອງລາວ)" which literally means "Lao Country." The French, who united the three separate Lao kingdoms in French Indochina in 1893, spelled it with a final silent "s," to signify the unity of multiple Lao kingdoms, hence "Laos". The Lao language itself has no final "s" sound, so Lao people pronounce it as in their native tongue though some, especially those living abroad, use the pronunciation ending in "s".
Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang (Million Elephants,) founded in the 14th century (1353) by Fa Ngum, himself descended from a long line of Lao kings, tracking back to Khoun Boulom. Lan-Xang prospered until the 18th century, when the kingdom was divided into three principalities, which eventually came under Siamese suzerainty.