Laos is located in Southeast Asia, in the Indochinese peninsula, and shares borders with China to the North, Vietnam to the west, Cambodia to the South, Thailand to the West and a small border with Myanmar to the Northeast.The country occupies 236,800 km2 and counts 6,803,699 inhabitants divided into three main ethnic groups. The main ethnic group is the Lao group and represents as of 2005, 55% of the total population. The second ethnic group is the Khmu ethnic minority group, with 11% of the population, and the third group is the Hmong ethnic minority group that accounts for 8% of the population. The rest of the population (26%) is divided into numerous small ethnic minority groups as there are nearly 160 ethnic groups in Laos.
Despite the number of different ethnic groups, the main language in Laos is Lao. The other official language is French, even though a very small percentage of the population actually practices it. There are 82 different dialects in Laos, which is quite impressive for such a small country, as well as the number of ethnic groups.
The Lao People's Democratic Republic is ruled by a single-party, the Communist Party. Its functioning is similar to Vietnam's politics, with a President, currently Mr. Soumali Sayasone, and a Prime Minister, currently Mr. Thongsing Thammavong, in charge of the government, both high-ranked officials of the Lao people's Revolutionary Party. The legislative power is represented by the National Assembly that is elected by the members of the Lao government, which creates disagreements with ethnic minority groups
The capital of Lao People's Democratic Republic is Vientiane, the largest city in Laos, located in the center of the country and counting 196,731 inhabitants, followed by the city of Pakse with 88,332 inhabitants. The city of Savannaketh comes third with 66,553 and the fourth one is the beautiful city of Luang Prabang, counting only 47,378 inhabitants. Those cities have known a faster development than other cities for different reasons, with the capital attracting most of the Foreign Direct Investments and the second city's proximity to Thailand, rapid economic development has occurred. Pakse and Luang Prabang owe their development to their proximity with the mighty Mekong River and the development of tourism in Laos.
Laos climate is characterized by two very distinct seasons, a rainy season from May to November and a dry season from December to the end of April. March and April are much warmer than the previous months of the dry season. Some would argue that Laos actually has three seasons, a rainy season, a dry season, and a warm season.
Typology of Laos is relatively the same all over the country with mountainous ranges, such as to the East, forming a border with Vietnam to the Northwest, forming a border with Thailand. This border with Thailand is completed to the Southwest by the Mekong River. Two plains and plateaus are noticeable, to the north near China and to the south near Cambodia.