Laos Country Guide

History

 
 
Laos is squeezed between vastly larger neighbours. First created as an entity in 1353, when warlord Fa Ngum declared himself the king of Lane Xang ("Million Elephants"), the kingdom was initially a Khmer vassal state. After a succession dispute, the kingdom split in three in 1694 and was eventually devoured piece by piece by the Siamese, the last fragments agreeing to Siamese protection in 1885.
 
 
 
 
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The area east of the Mekong, however, was soon wrenched back from Siam by the French, who wanted a buffer state to protect Vietnam, and set up Laos as a unified territory in 1907. Briefly occupied by Japan in 1945, a three-decade conflict was triggered when France wanted to retake its colony. Granted full independence in 1953, the war continued between a bewildering variety of factions, with the Communist and North Vietnamese allied Pathet Lao struggling to overthrow the French-leaning monarchy.

Ruins of Wat Phu in Champasak by Mattana

During the Vietnam War (1964-1973) the United States dropped 1.9 million tonnes of bombs on Laos, mostly in the northeast. For comparison 2.2 million tonnes of bombs were dropped by all sides in World War II. In 1975, after the fall of Saigon, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of Vientiane and ended a six century-old monarchy. Initial closer ties to Vietnam and socialisation were replaced with a gradual return to private enterprise, an easing of foreign investment laws and admission into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1997.

Vientiane by Jean-Pierre DalbĂ©ra

 
Laos
Country Guide

Laos Hotels
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Champasak
Huay Xai
Louang Namtha
Luang Prabang
Muang Sing
Pakse
Phonsavan
Savannakhet
Thakhek
Vang Vieng
Vientiane

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