Laos is one of the fastest growing economies in the East Asia and Pacific region.However, an estimated two million people out of its population of six million live under the poverty line of $1.25 a day.
Laos’ key development challenge will be to ensure that its wealth is sustainably managed and transformed into investments in public infrastructure, better health and educational outcomes for all, especially the poor, and an efficient business environment.
Australia's aid to Laos is focused on areas critical to the country's development while still remaining inclusive and sustainable through programs that aids development of basic education, human resource development, and trade and business environment reform.
The majority of Australian volunteers in Laos are placed within the education, inclusive growth, rural development and sustainable integrated water resources management sectors.
The city of Luang Prabang sits at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers and was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, with its mix of colonial architecture and traditional Lao structures being described as a "unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrating a key stage in the blending of two distinct cultural traditions".
Vientiane is the capital of Laos and is situated on the northern bank of the Mekong River. It is a French colonial city and, with a population of around 600,000, it is one of the smaller capital cities in South East Asia. Vientiane offers an opportunity to escape the bustle and traffic of bigger, busier cities.
There are many unique landmarks and temples throughout the city, including Buddhist sites and French colonial architecture. Most areas of the city can be reached by bicycle, scooter, tuk-tuk or bus. The climate switches between a wet season and a dry season which in itself includes cool and hot dry periods.
Savannakhet, the second largest city in Laos, is situated to the west of the country and is the capital of Savannakhet Province. There are many unique landmarks and temples throughout the city, including Buddhist sites and French colonial architecture. Most areas of the city can be reached by bicycle, scooter, tuk-tuk or bus.
Savannakhet has a tropical climate, with average temperatures ranging from 22 C in January, to 29 C in March. The wet season spans from April through to October with the dry season covering the remaining five months.