Laos is one of the poorest countries in all of Southeast Asia with a great percentage of its people in poverty. It’s wedged in between two vastly larger and vastly more successful countries, leaving it in the dust in terms of economical growth and prosperity of its people. Laos has been fighting and gaining political independence, breaking free from its French Protectorate roots in 1949. Its civil war also brought it political freedom from communism in 1975. Laos is probably most familiar to Americans due to its role in the Vietnam War.
Laos is and always has been heavily dependent on its neighbors. Cities continue to grow due to trade but one of the biggest issues plaguing the country is its lack of infrastructure, a major weakness. There are hardly any railways to allow for the transportation of goods and, even though the major roadways have gotten paved in the past few years, most of the country is still only accessible through unpaved roadways. Communication also poses a problem as most of the area, outside of the major urban development, is inaccessible even to electricity, a weakness both to visitors and its citizens.
One of the major sources of pride to Laos is the Lao Brewery. There are 3 types of beer produced, all varying shades of the name Beerlao. Beerlao has actually grown in popularity across the globe and at the moment has 12 countries of export. This list is increasing and the effects are also helping to increase the country’s economy as a whole. Most of the GDP is still in the form of subsistence agriculture, equating for more than half and also provides 80% of the employment in the country. The government has been utilizing reforms and developing things such as International Rice Research Institute, one of the great strengths.
The Laos economy also receives aid from such sources as ICF, ADB, and other such international institutions. There have also been an increasing number of foreign investments to help grow Laos’ society and industry. Tourism is actually the fastest growing industry but on the flip side of what Laos has to offer, its smartest people are being taken away. In 2000 alone, they suffered a skilled emigration rate of 37.4% which has been a weakness to the industries. While Laos is considered a poor country with many citizens in poverty, it is high in valuable substances and commodities like rice, a key strength of the country. The country and foreign investors are working to help to grow Laos into a thriving nation. It you want to experience something truly amazing then Laos would be for you.