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Länderinfo Laos


During the colonial times Laos was French colony. It was occupied by the japanese Army during the second world war which capitualted in 1945. In 1949 Laos became independant from its colonial power. During the war in Vietnam Laos remained in a neutral position but was nevertheless strongly bombed by the US Army. Even today old landmines are still a danger for the local population. After the end of the war in Vietnam Laos became the „Peoples Democratic Republic Laos“.

The population of Laos counts around 6.5 million inhabitants. Most of them live in the plains along the Mekong river, while the mountainous regions have a very low population density. Only around 30% of the population are living in the cities. The capital Vientiane has around 350,000 citizens and around 620,000 people live in the conurbation. The average age in Laos is 19 years with an annual growth rate of more than 2%. The population consists out of more than 100 different ethic groups. Largest groups are represented by the Lao, the Khmou and the Hmong. The national language is Lao which is quite near to Thai. The predominant religion is Buddhismus, but many tribes in the mountains practise also Animisme.

Education and Health
In 2001 the literacy rate was estimated to be 67%. The average life expectancy is currntly around 57 years. Important health problems are the high under five mortality rate as well as access to and provision of medical care. But also the provision of safe drinking water and proper disposal of sewage and waste remain unsolved problems for many regions. The most frequently seen diseases are malaria, tuberculosis, infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract as well as gastro-intestinal infections. 37% of all children in Laos suffer from moderate or severe malnutrition. The number of people infected with HIV is increasing but with 0.2% still relatively low.

My working place: Attapeu Province
My working place is the Attapeu Province in the south of Laos. Attapeu has around 112,000 inhabitants with 13 different ethnic groups. The population density is only 11 inhabitants per km². Approximatly 60% of the population lives in the mountainous regions and has only poor access to health services. The under five mortality rate in this region seems to be higher than in other regions of Laos. The project aims at training a team of local people as community health workers as well as further education of the staff in the existing health facilites. After their training the community health workers are supposed to spread knowledge and skills about diseases, prevention of diseases, nutrition and hygiene in their villages and to provide a basic health care for those without access to other health care facilities. The long-term effects of this project will hopefully be an improvement of the general health status of the population in this region.

The country

Laos is a landlocked country in south-east Asia. Neighbouring countries are Thailand, Myanmar, China, Vientam and Cambodia. The surface is similar to that of Great Britain but the population density is much lower. The capital of Laos is Vientiane. The Mekong river brings life to the whole country and renders the plains along its arms furtile for cultivation.

In contrast to the Mekong regions the rest of the country is rather mountainous. The highest mountain is the Phu Bia with an altitude of 2800 m. Around 50% of the country is wooded and especially the rainforests are giving living space for all kind of animals.


The climate

The climate in Laos is hot and humid, influenced by the monsoon: the average annual temperature is 31°C with an humidity of 85%. March and April are the months with the highest temperatures while November and February are the coldest months.



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