Laos is a rugged, landlocked region in the midst of the Indochina peninsula. 80% of its land is hilly to mountainous. Land suitable for agriculture, arable land, is located primarily along its major river, the Mekong, and its tributaries. From rainy to dry seasons the elevation of the Mekong can fluctuate 20 meters. The Mekong remained “untamed” along its entire length, that is, not a single spanning bridge, until 1994 when the Friendship bridge was opened, connecting Laos with Vietnam.
In 1893, Laos became a French colony. During WW2 it came under dominion of the Japanese, returning to France following the war. In 1954, Laos secured independence from France. Landlocked, surrounded by Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and China, for decades remained largely unknown to the rest of the world. That is changing.