Laos is a small landlocked country in Southeast Asia bordering on Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Laos has an area of about 91,400 square miles (236,800 square kilometers), roughly the size of Idaho. It runs about 700 miles (1,126 kilometers) from north to south and averages about 150 to 200 miles (240 to 320 kilometers) across. The country is extremely mountainous, with only about 4 percent of the land suitable for farming. It has a tropical monsoon climate and most people engage in subsistence rice agriculture. The Lao make up two-thirds of the population, or somewhat over 3 million of the population of almost 5 million. They occupy the most desirable land in the river valleys and live clustered along the Mekong River across from northeast Thailand, most of whose people are Lao, and in the southern plateau. The Lao of northeast Thailand, together with Lao groups in northern Thailand, represent one-third of the whole population of Thailand, or about 20 million people—several times the number of Lao in Laos itself.

After the communists seized power in Laos in 1975, about 360,000 refugees left the country. Refugees were predominantly Lao, but included many Hmong and smaller numbers of other minority groups. Many of the French-speaking elite went to France, but most Lao went to the United States. They live scattered across the country, although southern California is a favorite location because of the warmer climate. Canada and Australia also received thousands of Lao refugees while thousands of others stayed illegally in Thailand, blending in with the Lao population of northeast Thailand.

Read more: Lao - Introduction, Location, Language, Folklore, Religion, Major holidays, Rites of passage, Relationships, Living conditions http://www.everyculture.com/wc/Japan-to-Mali/Lao.html#ixzz24hqskkpp