The People's Democratic Republic of Laos is located in southeast Asia, and is one of the least densely populated Asian countries. The population is multicultural, with ethnic Lao, Chinese, and Vietnamese being the largest of the nation's ethnic groups. Buddhism is the predominant religion.

Women enjoy relatively high social status and equal constitutional rights but are expected to be subservient to men. Poverty, the sex trade, and health issues negatively impact many women's lives. Marriage and childbirth represent a girl's passage into adulthood. Laotians generally select their own marriage partners with parental approval. Patrilineal ethnic groups emphasize parental involvement in the process more than matrilineal ethnic groups. Dowery payments are still prevalent, and polygyny exists among some ethnic groups. The nation's fertility rate is high at ...

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