The word Laterite is derived from the Latin word ‘later’ which means ‘brick’. Laterite is a soil and rock type rich in iron and aluminium and is commonly considered to have formed in hot and wet tropical areas. Nearly all laterites are of rusty-red colouration, because of high iron oxide content. They develop by intensive and long-lasting weathering of the underlying parent rock.
In laterite areas where a high level of culture once prevailed, ruins often disclose laterite used as a building stone. Open cisterns, headwalls, sewers, flagstones, culverts, moles and quays, of laterite have functioned successfully for hundreds of years.