Officially referred to as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the state is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Laos shares borders with Burma, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. With a population of 6.5 million in 2012, around one-third of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day. Laos is a single-party socialist republic, which seems to be heavily under the influence of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Army. The official language is Lao, although the Lao ethnic group only makes-up approximately 60% of the population. Laos declared independence from French colonialism on October 22nd, 1953.