The mighty Mekong in the west and the Annamite Mountains in the east offer natural borders with Thailand and Vietnam respectively, while Laos also shares borders with China in the north, Myanmar in the northwest and Cambodia in the south.
With over half of this landlocked country’s 236,800sqkm densely forested, and 70% of it mountainous, it is hardly surprising that a profusion of rare flora and over 1,200 species of wildlife finds a home beneath its tropical canopy.
The country’s highest peak, at 2,820m, can be found in the mountainous ranges of Northeastern Laos, in the Xiang Khouang Province. However, nearly equally as impressive are the mountains at the southern end of the Annamite range which reach heights of 2,600m. The Khammouanne and Bolaven plateaus dominate the central region of the Annamites.
Almost all of the rivers and streams in Laos eventually end up feeding into the Mekong through one of its 15 tributaries, making a total of 2,400km of waterways and feeding the Mekong with more than half of its overall water flow. Though averaging rainfalls of between 1360mm, in Luang Prabang, to 3700mm on the Boloven Plateau during the June to October monsoon season, Laos regularly suffers from water shortages in the low-lying Mekong Delta plains. This can adversely effect the rice crops that account for almost 80% of the country’s agricultural land.