Laos, landlocked country of northeast-central mainland Southeast Asia. It consists of an irregularly round portion in the north that narrows into a peninsula-like region stretching to the southeast. The capital is Vientiane (Lao: Viangchan), located on the Mekong River in the northern portion of the country.
The predominant religion of Laos is Theravada Buddhism. Buddhism was the state religion of the prerepublic kingdom of Laos, and the organization of the community of monks and novices, the clergy (sangha), paralleled the political hierarchy.
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