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Somewhat smaller than Oregon, Laos is a mountainous Southeast Asia country ruled by communists. The population of this little country is about 3 and a half million people.

One of the poorest and most underdeveloped nations of the world, Laos depends on aid from other countries to import the food and other goods its people need to survive. Most of the people are rice farmers. Few can read and write.

Over 80 percent of the country is rugged jungle terrain. The main river is Mekong River - used in the system of irrigation.

Now I'd like to tell you about the history of Laos. First Laotian territory was the seat of the Buddhist kingdom of Lan Xang, founded in 1353 by King Fa Ngum. Laos was invided by France in 1893 and by Japanese forces in 1941. During the World War II King Sisavang Vong proclaimed himself king of all Laos.

A new coalition government under Premier Souvanna Phouma that included 5 members of the communist Pathet Lao was sworn in on April 5, 1974.

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