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Laos, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), is located in the middle of Southeast Asia. The landlocked country does not have any access to the sea and is separated by natural borders from its neighbours Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam. This fact hindered trading and thus the economical development of the country. Today Laos is one of the world's least developed countries.
The country which is also known as Land of a Million Elephants has a total area of 236,800 km² and about 6 million inhabitants. As one of Southeast Asia's ethnically most diverse countries, there are more than 50 ethnic groups in Laos. The average age of the population is 19 years and more than 40% of the population is under 15 years old.
The predominant religion is Theravada Buddhism which, along with the common Animism practiced among the mountain tribes, coexists peacefully with spirit worship.