n a republic in SE Asia: first united as the kingdom of Lan Xang (``million elephants'') in 1353, after being a province of the Khmer Empire for about four centuries; made part of French Indochina in 1893 and gained independence in 1949; became a republic in 1975. It is generally forested and mountainous, with the Mekong River running almost the whole length of the W border. Official language: Lao. Religion: Buddhist majority, tribal religions. Currency: kip. Capital: Vientiane. Pop.: 5261000 (1998 est.). Area: 236800 sq. km (91429 sq. miles), (Official name)
Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos
Laotian adj, n
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