Laos is the most rural country in Southeast Asia and the least developed country bordering five countries. They are Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Burma (Myanmar).
The reason why Laos is poor is due to the country being land-locked with many mountains and jungles. Alot of the country's mountainous terrain is unsuitable for cultivating crops, therefore agricultural conditions are often unfavourable and productivity is low and it makes things difficult to sell. Lao farmers also lack new technologies and skills to improve production of crops. Financial aids and loans continues to pour in, and half of the country's budget comes from foreign aid.
While a quarter of the population are doing "okay" in the cities, three quarters of the total population live in poor rural areas. The rural communities are geographically and socially isolated and they depend on agriculture and natural resources for survival. Currently farming represents 70 percent of the workforce in Laos.
Laos has extensive natural resources in relation to mineral deposits, forests and capacity to generate hydropower from its river systems and is increasingly drawing on these resources to support economic growth. However the environment is now coming under increasing pressure as a result of increasing and, in some cases, poorly managed exploitation of these resources.
Because of declining yields of rice and other crops, households in rural areas of Laos are forced to use wild forest resources to provide food and generate cash. This unregulated exploitation of important natural resources causes serious environmental damage and ultimately increases poverty.
Laos has enjoyed three decades of relative peace and stability. Lao people like to say "boh pen nyang," meaning, "It doesn't matter". Sitting along the banks of the Mekong River, and enjoying a sunset drink with a beautiful Lao girl, it just feels as if there is nothing in Laos that needs fixing.