Burma has a lot of what the rest of the world wants. It has clean water, rich mineral deposits, offshore oil and gas and vast tracts of tropical forests. It lies at a strategic juncture between the rising economic giants of China and India and borders south-east Asia. Asia's rapid industrialisation has depleted the region's resources, and in many areas is pushing its natural environment to the brink of ecological disaster. Meanwhile, Burma's decades of relative isolation means it remains a potential treasure trove. Now, it faces a massive wave of foreign investors keen to capitalise on such natural wealth. There is a cautionary tale in Cambodia, which was similarly politically and economically isolated until the democratic elections of 1993 opened the doors to foreign investment. Within a decade of its rich timber resources being turned over to foreign operators, about half of Cambodia's old-growth tropical forests were gone.