Laos is the smallest state in terms of population, the weakest militarily, and the least developed economically in mainland Southeast Asia. Yet a glance at the map shows how strategically it is positioned, between Thailand and Vietnam and between Cambodia and China. As in the past Laos was a crossroads for trade routes, so in the future it will be a crossroads for communications in this rapidly developing region. It is even possible to anticipate that the greatness of Laos in the past may be matched by the emergence of Laos in the future as a significant partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which it is already a member. The third edition of the Historical Dictionary of Laos_through its chronology, introductory essay, appendixes, maps, bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on important persons, places, events, and institutions and significant political, economic, social, and cultural aspects_traces Laos' history and provides a compass for the direction the country is heading.
By Martin Stuart-Fox