Laos (see Wikipedia article) is pronounced as Lao-without the S. When the French re-colonized the country from 1945-1954 they added the silent S to the end name. After gaining their independence as a democratic state, many Laotians have dropped the S to return to the original spelling.
Like many other countries on this peninsula Lao suffered during the Vietnam War of the 60s and 70s. Many North Vietnamese troops had bases in Laos. The US bombed many of these bases and a lot of the eastern and northeastern areas of Laos are still recovering from that devastation.
Laos is a land-locked country. You won't see any beach pics here but that doesn't mean the landscape was any less beautiful. Off the beaten path we found kids swinging from ropes into green pools of water under some waterfalls and some extraordinary mountain backdrop views. In the capital, Vientiane, there were, of course, many Buddhist Temples (common in this Buddhism-dominated country). We even got to see the rare and oh so cool Indochinese Tiger.