Laos, a country of Asia, in Indo-China or Further India, bounded by China, Anam, Siam, and Burmah, and extending from about lat. 16° to 23° N., though its limits are not closely defined; pop. estimated at about 1,500,000. It is traversed by the Mekong or Cambodia river, and is separated from Burmah by the Salwen. The surface appears to be a valley lying between two nearly parallel ranges which run along the N. E. and S. W. frontiers. The soil is fertile, and produces rice, tobacco, the sugar cane, indigo, benzoin, gums, teak, sapan and sandal woods, betel, and numerous fruits. Elephants and draught cattle are the principal animals, and valuable mines of tin and iron are said to exist, while gold is washed from the sands of the rivers, and copper, lead, emeralds, and rubies are also found. The Laos are an honest but indolent race, much addicted to the study of magic, and resembling in religion, customs, and language the Burmese. They are skilful workers in metal, and make mats, paper (from bark), leather, pottery, silk and woollen fabrics, sugar, and gunpowder. They have a trade with the British settlements in Indo-China, and with Tonquin. Most of the tribes are dependent upon Siam. The first Christian mission among the Laos was commenced in 1867 at Chieng May, about 500 m.

N. of Bangkok, by the Presbyterian church in the United States.