Flag of Laos

Laos

The Lao People's Democratic Republic, more commonly known as Laos, is a landlocked country in southeast Asia, bordered by the People's Republic of China to the north, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west and Myanmar (Burma) to the northwest. After a period as a French colony, it gained independence in 1949. A long civil war ended when the communist Pathet Lao came to power in 1975.

Laos is the least developed and most enigmatic of the three former French Indochinese states. A ruinous sequence of colonial domination, internecine conflict and dogmatic socialism finally brought the country to its knees in the 1970s, and almost 10% of the population left.

Now, after two decades of isolation from the outside world, this landlocked, sparsely populated country is enjoying peace, stabilising its political and economic structures, and admitting foreign visitors - albeit in limited numbers due to a general lack of infrastructure.

Laos' isolation from foreign influence offers travellers an unparalleled glimpse of traditional South-East Asian life. From the rugged Annamite highlands to the fertile lowlands of the Mekong River valley, Laos is the highlight of South-East Asia.

Map of Laos