Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is located in the heart of the Indochinese peninsular, in Southeast Asia, at a latitude of 14 to 23 degrees north and longitude 100 to 108 degrees east.
Lao PDR shares a 505 km border with China to the north, 435 km of border with Cambodia to the south, 2,069 km of border with Vietnam to the east, 1,835 km of border with Thailand to the west, and a 236 km border with Myanmar to the northwest. The country stretches 1,700 km from north to South, with an east-west width of over-500 km at its widest, and only 140 km at the narrowest point.
Lao PDR covers a total of 236,800 square kilometres, three-quarters of which is mountains and plateaux. The country has three distinct regions.
The north is dominated by mountains that average 1,500 metres above sea level. The highest peak is the 2,800 metre Phou Bia in Xieng Khouang province. The Phou Luang (Annamite Chain) stretches from the southeast of the Phouane Plateau down to the Cambodian border. It has three large plateaux: Phouane Plateau in Xieng Khouang province, Nakai Plateau in Khammouane province, and Boloven Plateau in southern Laos, 1,000 m above sea level.
The plains region comprises large and small plains along the Mekong River. The largest of these is the Vientiane Plain, on the lower reaches of the Nam Ngum River. Also significant are the Savannakhet plain, on the lower reaches of the Se Bang Fai and Se Bang Hieng rivers, and the Champassak plain, which is on the Mekong River, stretching between the Thai and Cambodian borders. Blessed with fertile soil, these plains represent one quarter of the total area and are the “granaries” of the country.
The Lao PDR is criss-crossed by many rivers and streams. The Mekong River flows through 1,835 km of the country from north to south. Rivers and streams provide great potential for hydropower development. Over half of the power potential in the lower Mekong Basin is contained within Laos.