Khammouane Province covers about 16,000 square kilometres, located in central Laos. This province shares border with Bolikhamxay Province in the north and Savannakhet Province in the south. The Annamite Mountain Range separates Khammouane from Vietnam in the province’s eastern frontier and the Mekong River Valley and Thailand make up the western boundary. Its capital is Thakhaek.
Khammouane is a land of rugged karst mountains which were once the refuge of a succession of ethnic groups fleeing the Haw invasions in the north during the 19th century. The famed Mu Gia pass at the end of route 12 was one of the main transit points of the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Indochina Wars.
Khammouane, meaning “happy gold”, is believed to have been named after the gold deposits found in the area hundreds of years ago. This region was part of the Sikhottabong Kingdom in the 6th-8th centuries. There are remnants of the ancient civilization including the Great Wall (Kampeng Nyak), Meuang Phone Stupa, and Sikhottabong Stupa-one of the most sacred in Laos. It also has much well preserved French colonial architecture similar to that found in Vientiane.
This dreamlike landscape has served as a sanctuary for a number of wild animals that were unknown to scientists until the 1990s. The khan younis, a small rodent-like creature the size of a small squirrel was found in Khammouane in the early 21st century and possibly will be the last remaining mammalian family to be described on earth.
Almost locals in Khammouane engage in farming. This province is home to a variety of ethnic groups such as Phouthai and other Tai-speaking people who living in the lowland river valley. Besides, the Makong or Bru, a Mon-Khmer-speaking ethnic minority, make up 13 about per cent of the provincial population. Smaller numbers of Phuan, Tahoy, Kri, Katang, Nguan, Atel, Themarou, and Maleng are mainly found in upland areas and the mountainous eastern region of the province.
The weather in Khammouane is southwestern monsoon. It often heavily rains from May to October, though storms from the South China Sea and Vietnam supplement the monsoon in Nakai Nam Then NPA’s mountains. The rains keep the area wet for nine months of the year and support the dense forests needed to sustain rare wildlife species.
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