Natural, Historic, and Religious Heritage     

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Land use and human environment

The land use map is like a negative of the forest cover map. Crop areas in the mountains and east of Savannakhet Plain account for less than 3% of the total, with two exceptions. The proportion of crop areas is higher on the Bolovens Plateau, which, unlike the Xiengkhuang Plateau, was not as heavily bombed, and along the southern roads of Oudomxay and Luangphrabang provinces. This map also highlights the three nuclei of settlement shown in the population density map, between Vientiane and Pakse. Crop areas account for less than 10% in the districts bordering the Mekong in Savannakhet, between 10% and 12% in the districts in Saravane and Pakse provinces. Crop areas rise to between 13% and 19% in Vientiane city and along the northward road to Thoulakhom, peaking at 28% in the two riparian districts on the road to the bridge over the Mekong.

The natural reproduction rates reflect the spatial structures of the land use map in the four southern provinces, but they contrast with land use in the Centre and the North. The fastest growth is found in Huaphanh and Xiengkhuang (2-3.5%), the most heavily populated regions to be bombed, and in the neighbouring provinces (1.7-2%), which have experienced a post-war baby boom.

The jewels of Lao cultural heritage are strung out along the Mekong Valley, from the city of Luangphrabang, the original capital of Lan Xang, included on UNESCO's World Heritage List; via Vientiane, which replaced it in the 16th century; to the Khmer temple of Wat Phou, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Champassack; and the Khone Falls. The prehistoric site of the Plain of Jars (even if the pagodas of the Phouane principality were destroyed during the war), the Buddhist sites of the Sekong Valley and the caves that sheltered the Pathet Lao administration during the bombings are among the country's most famous other sites. Hotel capacity is concentrated along the Mekong and Road 13, with Muong Xay (a new city) and Namtha governing access to China.

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2003 SEAsite Laos. Lao Maps
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