Looking out from my balcony at the Four Seasons Elephant Camp in Northern Thailand (this also happens to be the view from my outdoor shower which was by far the best part of the tent), you can see the mountains of Laos. The only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, it is also one of only 5 Communist countries remaining in the world with single party rule.
Rice dominates the agricultural industry with 80% of the arable land used for rice production. Almost 70% of the population are Buddhist and while much of the country lacks adequate infrastructure, tourism is the fastest growing industry. The pace is said to be laid back and relaxed (as much as it can be in a Communist society with no freedom of speech).
So I was horrified to learn Laos holds the title of the single most bombed country per capita in global history. Laos was dragged into the Vietnam war by their neighbor North Vietnam. During the war, the US and our allies undertook a massive arial bombing, dropping on average one B 52 bomb load every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day for 9 years on Laos.
There are only 6.5 million people (smaller than the city of Bangkok) in the entire country and yet we dropped over 250 million bombs over 9 years. And the US State Department estimates there are 80 million unexploded bombs left today in Laos still posing a deadly problem for most of the rural countryside. Wow, you just can’t make this stuff up.