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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.History of lao

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-long 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 Vietnam-allied Pathet Lao struggling to overthrow the French-leaning monarchy. During the Vietnam War (1964-1973), this alliance led the United States to dump 1.9 million metric tons of bombs on Laos, mostly in the northeast stronghold of the Pathet Lao (for purposes of comparison, 2.2 million tons of bombs were dropped on Europe 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 socialization were replaced with a gradual return to private enterprise, an easing of foreign investment laws, and admission into ASEAN in 1997.

Despite being just one hour by air from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, life in Laos has continued in much the same way it has for hundreds of years, although things are now slowly beginning to change. In the mid-90s the government reversed its stance on tourism, and then declared 1998 "Visit Laos Year" - but despite their efforts and all Laos has to offer, monks still outnumbered tourists throughout the country. This is now rapidly changing, with tourist numbers rising every year. Indeed, Vientiane is a laid-back, yet charmingly cosmopolitan village.

  •  Laos is a small landlocked country in Southeast Asia bordering on Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Laos has an area of about...
  • 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...
  • Despite its small population, Laos has 49 ethnic groups, or tribes, from which Lao, Khmou and Hmong constitute approximately three quarters of the...
  • Laos has three distinct seasons. The hot season is from March to May, when temperatures can soar as high as 40°C. The slightly cooler wet season is from...
  • Laos is one of the world's poorest countries. The disruption during the civil-war period and the economic policies of the early years of the...
  • The peoples of Laos are divided by language, culture, and location. Lao officials distinguish four basic ethnolinguistic groups: the Lao-Lum, or valley Lao;...
  •  The most important Lao holiday is Songkarn, the Lao New Year, celebrated from April 13 to 15. After several months of drought, the first rains of the...

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