| History |
Location & terrain
Flora & fauna
Stone tools discovered in Houaphanh and Luang Prabang
provinces attest to the presence of prehistoric man in
the hunter-gatherer stage in Lao territory from at least
40,000 years ago. Agriculturist society seemed to appear
during the 4th millennia B.C. as evidence has been found
by archeologists. Burial jars and other kinds of
sepulchers have revealed a complex society in which
bronze objects appeared around 1500 B.C. and iron tools
were known since 700 B.C.
The proto-historic period is characterized by contact
with Chinese and Indian civilizations. Between the
fourth and eighth century, communities along the Mekong
River began to form into townships, called Muang. This
development culminated in the formation of the Lane Xang
(million elephant) Kingdom in 1353 by King Fa Ngum and
established Xieng Thong (now known as Luang Prabang) as
the capital of Lane Xang Kingdom.
The Kingdom was further expanded by King Fa Ngum's
successors, one of the most notable being King
Setthathirath who ruled from 1548-1571. He moved the
capital to Vientiane and built the That Luang Stupa, a
venerated religious shrine, and a temple to house the
Pra Keo, the Emerald Buddha.
In the 17th Century, under the reign of King
Souliyavongsa, the Lane Xang Kingdom entered it's most
illustrious era. The country established first contacts
with Europeans. In 1641, a Dutch merchant of the East
India company, Geritt Van Wuysthoff, and later, the
Italian missionary Leria de Marini, visited the Kingdom
of Lane Xang and described Vientiane as the "most
magnificent city of Southeast Asia".
This golden age was followed by in-fighting for the
throne, which led to the break-up of Lane Xang into the
three kingdoms: Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Champasack.
All of these civil wars weakened the kingdom, thus
creating opportunities for new foreign aggressors to
The unsuccessful challenge of the Siamese by King
Anouvong resulted in the virtual destruction of
Vientiane. The Siamese took the Emerald Buddha to
Bangkok where it remains today.
Laos was put under the French administration in 1893. To
recover its full rights and sovereignty, the Lao people
started fighting against the French regime. Under the
leadership of the Communist Party of Indochina (founded
in 1930), the struggle for self-determination and
independence gained importance. Finally, the long period
of military and political upheaval culminated with the
International Conference and the Geneva Agreement on
Indochina in 1954 where the independence of Laos,
Vietnam & Cambodia were recognized.
The situation worsened during the Vietnam War, even
though the Geneva Accord of 1962 had recognized the
neutrality of Laos and forbade the presence of all
foreign military personnel. By bombing the portion of
the Ho Chi Minh Trail across Laos, US forces dropped
more bombs on Laos than they did worldwide during World
War II .
Laos remains the most heavily bombed nation in history.
This was particularly the case in Houaphanh and Xieng
Khouang Provinces, where international teams are still
clearing the terrain of unexploded ordinances (UXOs) and
people continue to suffer from the legacy of war.
In 1975, under the leadership of the Lao Peoples
Revolutionary Party, victory was achieved. After the Lao
people gained power in a bloodless take-over,
establishing the People's Democratic Republic on
December 2nd. It was the culmination of a successful
struggle for national liberation and a reinstatement of
At present the multi-ethnic Lao people are making
efforts to defendant develop Laos in line with the new
policy of the Party and government in order to lead the
country to progress and prosperity.
Source: Lao National Tourism Administration