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The lao people's democratic republic (pdr), or Laos, is a nation of 6.4 million people and nearly 237,000 sq. km. situated in the heart of mainland Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China and Vietnam to its north and east, respectively; Myanmar and Thailand to the west; and Cambodia to the south. The climate is dominated by tropical monsoons, with a fairly well-defined rainy season from May through November alternating with a dry season from December through April. Laos is, by many socioeconomic measures (such as life expectancy, infant mortality, and literacy) one of the least-developed countries in the world.

Ethnically diverse and largely dependent on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods, the people of Laos practice rice paddy cultivation in the low-lying plains ...

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