About Laos

Officially known as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia. A mountainous and landlocked country, Laos shares borders with Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar and China to the north.

Unexploded bomb in Laos
Unexploded bomb in Laos

Thailand promotes itself as amazing, Vietnam can well be described as bustling, Cambodia’s Khmer temples are awe-inspiring… but the adjective that was most often applied to Laos is forgotten. Visitors who are drawn by the laid-back lifestyle and the opportunity to watch the sunsets on the Mekong will simply explain the attraction by revealing that the true meaning of “Lao PDR” is Lao – Please Don’t Rush.

A third of the population of Laos live below the international poverty line (living on less than US$1.25 per day). Laos has a low-income economy, with one of the lowest annual incomes in the world. In 2013, Laos ranked the 138th place (tied with Cambodia) on the Human Development Index (HDI). According to the Global Hunger Index (2013), Laos ranks as the 25th hungriest nation in the world out of the list of the 56 nations with the worst hunger situation(s). Laos has had a poor human rights record most particularly dealing with the nation’s acts of genocide being committed towards its Hmong population.

In 1964, the US began intensive bombing of the Lao communist movement – Pathet Lao. During nine years of almost constant American bombing, the Pathet Lao sheltered in caves. About one third of the land in Laos is contaminated with unexploded ordnance and at least 25,000 people have been killed or injured by unexploded ordnance in Laos since the Vietnam War-era bombings ended. Over the past four decades, only 500,000 of the estimated 80 million cluster munitions that failed to detonate have been cleared. being a farming based economy Laos struggles with soil littered by bombs and declining soil fertility.