Laos I A Land of Ethnic Diversity
The People’s Democratic Republic of Lao is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. With hundreds of vibrant ethnic groups living together, it is one of the most ethically diverse countries in the world. Because of its mountainous terrain and limited infrastruc- ture, the people of Laos historically have encountered relatively few tourists. After the Lao government opened the borders in the 1990s, visitors began entering in greater numbers. In an effort to help modernise Laos, the government pursued political, social, and economic activities in order to unify the country and reduce overall poverty. The government is aiming to improve electricity, education, sanitary facilities, and encourages relocation for cer- tain remote villages. Some of these initiatives may disproportionately impact the diversity and unique identity of Lao ethnic groups living in remote areas.