Still hesitant, yet by now unmistakably, a country in Southeast Asia is beginning to open. This country, which has only just begun to determine its path into the future, is Laos. Landlocked, it is surrounded by five restless neighbors: mighty China to the North, prospering Vietnam to the East, Cambodia, torn apart by internal discord, to the South, the economic dynamo Thailand, and Myanmar, ruled by unpopular generals, to the West. Yet despite these eminent influences, Laos remains an oasis of calm, now being discovered more and more by visitors from the West. Over the course of several trips, the authors have journeyed into the farthest reaches of this country: from the isolated mountain villages in the North to the ruins of the former Khmer Empire in the Sount, and from the still war-scarred Plain of Jars in the East to the lowland rice fields along the Mekong in the West. Their photographs show a breathtaking and, at the same time, enchanted beauty, the rich heritage of the minorities still alive today, and the first steps towards the future. Their text describes clearly and concisely the country's history right up to the issues of today. In this book, for the first time, Laos is presented in its entire colorful diversity. Many color photos.