22 Pages

Land-locked Laos: Dilemmas of Development at the Edge of the World

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) receives little attention from the world’s press, and equally little from academics. This is partly due to the long-standing difficulties of conducting field research in Laos and partly, no doubt, because of the country’s low international profile. With a population of 4.6 million, a GDP of US$1.5 billion, total exports of just US$300 million, per capita income of US$335 - making it one of the poorest countries in the world - and in large part isolated from the world community from the final victory of the Pathet Lao in 1975 until the early 1990s, Laos has neither figured prominently in the world’s economy, nor on the world’s political stage (table 1). When the Lao PDR has received attention, it has invariably been through the lens of the Vietnam War which still casts a shadow over the countries of Indochina.