Why is Laos called as the ‘Land of a million elephants’?
The name “A MILLION ELEPHANTS” comes from Lao history and culture. Laos used to be known as the Kingdom of Lan Xang (1354 to 1707), which translates to “Land of a Million Elephants”. As Laos had extensive forests and a sparse human population, wild herds of elephants roamed all over. Making the elephants the main mode of transportation for the royal family and the principal engines of war. Elephants were and are still considered as sacred animals, which Lao people believe will bring them prosperity.
Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia
All borders are surrounded by other countries and no coastline, Laos is completely landlocked. Having no coastline, Laos has been impacted economically in terms of trade. Laos is full of forests, rugged mountains, rivers, and plains. 80% of the population lives off subsistence agriculture, meaning they grow enough food to support themselves and don’t work for a profit. Rice is the main crop here. China is helping Laos’ economy by investing in the county’s rich mineral resources and hydroelectric energy sectors, which should see Laos flourish in the coming years.
Laos is a socialist state
Laos is one of the world’s 5 remaining ‘communist’ countries, alongside North Korea, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. After the civil war ended in 1975, the communist government overthrew the monarchy and has been ruling since. The official name of the country is the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The red communist flag with hammer and sickle can be seen on official buildings and everywhere in Laos.
Laos is the most heavily bombed place in history
Didn’t I say in the beginning? The history of Laos is quite tragic. Its like a universal law in a spiritual level- Anything beautiful has endured so much pain. Between 1964 and 1973, Laos suffered heavy bombings, in what in other words known as “America’s Secret War”. As part of America’s strategy against communism, American air force dropped an average of one attack every eight minutes for nine years, making Laos the most heavily bombed country in history per capita. This has resulted in a tenth of the country’s population being killed and on top of tens of thousands of more accidental deaths and injuries, which continue to this day. With millions of unexploded ordnance (UXO) still buried deep in the soil and scattered across the country, the Laotian people remain vulnerable and at risk. To date, less than one percent of the bombs have been removed.
With such technology and global power, Laos still remains as a poor country with a single party. But there is hope. It is also south east Asia’s fastest growing economies.
Laos is the world’s first consumer of sticky rice -“khao niaow”
Laotians are famed for being one of the highest consumers of sticky rice (khao niaow) in the world. Eating more than 345 pounds (156 kgs) a year, per person! Now THAT is a lot of sticky rice! They even refer to themselves as luk khao niaow, meaning: “children of sticky rice”. Sticky rice has a history in Southeast Asia of at least 4,000 years. the ancient method of making rice has changed over years, which includes the rice being sticky. But the Laotians are old school. They love sticky rice. They also make special sticky rice dishes for religious ceremonies and uncooked sticky rice grains are thrown into the air after prayers. Actually the main reason sticky rice is so popular in Laos is because, it is filling and takes longer to digest than white rice, plus, it’s yummy! If you are in Laos, tasting their sticky rice is a bucket list things to do.
Laotians drink coffee in a plastic bag
I know, not sustainable, but you and your UN can go just get wasted somewhere else because Laos doesn’t care. Their occupations, history, time, and ways have suffered unimaginable circumstances and it will take a while for the people (victims) here to sync with the global problems and the gender debate. This practice is kinda cool if you ask me. Both the Arabica and Robusta coffee varieties are grown in Laos, mostly on the Bolaven Plateau which has with enough rain and shade, which is ideal for growing coffee. The country generates about 15-20,000 tons a year! The majority of the Robusta coffee produced in Laos is exported to Thailand while Arabica is usually sold within the country. A traditional Laotian iced coffee from the local street stalls is served with a large dollop of condensed milk at the bottom, in a plastic bag with lots of ice and a straw. Make sure you dispose of the plastic in the bin though!