October 12 – Laos Liberation Day

Posted on October 12, 2015

The Lao People's Democratic Republic is a landlocked nation—the only landlocked nation in Southeast Asia.

We are used to seeing scenes like these from Southeast Asian nations:
Burma (aka Myanmar)
Many of the countries of Southeast Asia are known for their beautiful beaches and coastlines.

But the water you see in pictures of Laos, such as this one, is in rivers and lakes, not oceans...

Being landlocked is usually not a great thing, because a landlocked nation has to depend on other nations in order to have access to worldwide shipping. There are other really bad things about Laos: it is one of the most corrupt nations in the world, with a bad human rights record and a low-income / high-poverty economy. About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line, and the nation ranks as the 25th hungriest nation in the world.

Reading a bit of history, we find that Thailand grabbed Laotian lands, then ceded the lands to the French, and that during World War II, Laos was occupied by Japan. When WWII was over, Laos declared its independence, but France stepped in to resume their earlier control. This holiday celebrates the Liberation of Laos from the French in 1954.

Of course, after becoming independent, things weren't necessarily peachy and peaceful; there was a civil war, and Laos got dragged into the Vietnam War – parts of Laos being invaded and occupied by North Vietnam, and those parts being bombed by the United States!

Despite all of this corruption and war and other disagreeable stuff, a huge influence on the nation is the relatively peaceful religion of Buddhism. Check out the amazing Buddhist temples and statues:

And of course there are other marvelous and beautiful things to see in Laos. Luang Prabang, for example, sounds great! 

It's one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and its nickname is the “Jewel in Laos Crown.” There are 33 temples, former royal palaces, beautiful waterfalls, and even a cave adorned with more than 4,000 Buddha icons!!

These caves have natural limestone-cave features (above)
PLUS more than 4,000 statuettes of Buddha (below).

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