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Laos - From Buffer State to Crossroads ?

Laos - From Buffer State to Crossroads?Vatthana Pholsena & Ruth Banomyong
Mekong Press, Chiang Mai
2006, 216 p.
ISBN : 974-94805-0-3
English Language English text

Can Laos—with its small, scattered, ethnically diverse population, enchanting but rugged landscapes, and rich natural resources—emerge from the shadow of its more powerful neighbours ?

The authors investigate the country’s unwanted rôle as a buffer State devastatingly drawn into the Indochina wars and the Cold War, its recent accession to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and its bilateral relations with Vietnam and Thailand. The current catchcry of Mékong régional development, with Laos as a central node in ‘transport corridors’, or as a major source of hydoelectric power through large dams, is critically examined. Clearly, change is everywhere in Laos, with the opening up of its borders to its more powerful and numerous neighbours on ail sides. How is this affecting its people, its economy, its culture, and its prospects as a nation ?

This lively and accessible book on contemporary Laos is an essential read for scholars, policymakers, NGO personnnel, and anyone interested in coming to grips with the country today.



List of maps, figures and tables
List of boxes


1 – Geopolitics of a buffer state : from the pre-colonial period to the Cold War

2 – A regional positioning : integration into ASEAN

3 – Bilateral relations with Vietnam and Thailand

4 – The realities of a less developed state

5 – Laos – logistics platform for the Mekong region ?

6 – The myth of isolation : old and new cross-border phenomena

7 – Society and culture : continuities and changes

8 – Conclusion

About the Authors