Adelais B., Laos: "Cambodia is a poor country. This means that most houses, especially in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, have no toilets, so women and young girls have to relieve themselves roadside. Cambodians are very polite by nature. They always look the other way. But there are now more and more Western men walking around in the outer parts of Phnom Penh. And usually they wear sunglasses so nobody knows what they are looking at. There are now two urgent measures to be undertaken to stop this intrusion into the privacy of young girls (which actually is a form of rape). First, the sale of sunglasses to Western men must be prohibited (except if they have a medical prescription). Second, the international community urgently must provide funds so that secure toilets can be build for girls and young women throughout Cambodia."


Photo: Laotian Family

According to Asiaweek's issue of December 1, 1995, the population of Laos, at that time, counted about 4.8 Million, which in terms of population makes Laos the third smallest country in Southeast Asia (after Brunei with 300,000 and Singapore with 3.1 Million).

About half of the country's population are Laotians, a people ethnically closely related to the Thais. The languages Thai and Laotian are also very similar.

Roughly one quarter of the population, mostly to the South, ethnically belongs, like the Cambodians, to the Mon-Khmer group, about 15 % are Thais, and various hill tribes make up another 10 % of the population.

Laos is one of the very few countries in Southeast Asia without significant ethnic tensions. The long-time leader of the communist movement in Laos, former Prime Minister Kaysone Phomvihan, was born of a Vietnamese and a Laotian parent.

The citizens of the country have a reputation for being extremely peaceful and friendly - even though Laos had been caught up in the Vietnam war and in a civil war lasting for years.


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