Archaeological finds prove that the area has been inhabited since the 6th millennium BC. The finds on the Tran Ninh Plateau (Plateau de Xiangkhoang, level of clay jugs) in the north of the country indicate a highly developed culture at the beginning of the Christian era. Probably from the 8th century AD. Laotians belonging to the Thai peoples who came from southwest China immigrated to the area of today’s Laos. For centuries, the residents were under the sovereignty of the mighty Khmer empire of Angkor until the Khmer were driven out by the rulers of the Sukhothai empire. The Sukhothai empire ruled temporarily over today’s Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, but fell into smaller individual empires in the 14th century before it was reunited as the empire of Ayutthaya. In 1353 the Laotians, under the leadership of their ruler Fa Ngum, were able to break away from the empire and the Lao kingdom of Lan Chang (land of the millions of elephants) was founded. The capital was Muong Swang (today Luang Prabang). Buddhism became the state religion. In 1563 the capital of the empire was moved to Viang Chan (Vientiane).
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In the 15th and 16th centuries there were several armed conflicts with the neighboring Vietnamese and Burmese, temporarily the empire was occupied. In 1707, the Lan Chang empire fell into two rival kingdoms, Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and six years later, a third empire was created in the south of the country, Champassak. In the second half of the 18th century, all minor empires came under the sovereignty of the Siam Empire (Thailand). Luang Prabang manages to maintain a certain independence through cooperation with Siam against the insurgent Vientiane.
By 1887, the great European power France had brought the areas of today’s Vietnam and Cambodia under their rule, from 1888 it fought with Siam for the areas of Laos. In 1893, the three empires Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Champassak were joined under the name of Laos, the French protectorate and annexed to French Indochina. For France, Laos was primarily of strategic importance (as a demarcation from the British colonial empire), there were hardly any economic interests. Several resistance movements were founded in the first half of the 20th century (e.g. the Communist underground movement Pathet Lao in 1944 under the leadership of Prince Suvanna Vong). When France was occupied by Germany in World War II in 1940, Japan claimed the French territory in Indochina. The country’s independence was proclaimed in 1945, but the emerging government was deposed in 1946 by France, which again took control of Laos. The country was granted limited internal self-government. In 1947, a new constitution declared Laos a constitutional monarchy with King Sisavong Vong on the throne (who had been King of Luang Prabang since 1904). In 1949, Laos became an independent kingdom within the French Union.
Way to independence
According to AbbreviationFinder, France could no longer maintain its dominance in Indochina in the long run: As part of the Indochina War (1946-54), the opposition forces in Laos became more and more important. By 1954, the Pathet Lao communist movement, which had allied itself with the Vietnamese Vietminh, had taken up about half of Laos. The 1954 Geneva Indochina Agreement brought Laos ultimate independence from France, while an armistice was negotiated between government troops and the partisans of Pathet Lao, which was not permanent. In late 1958, an open civil war broke out between communist (Pathet Lao) and pro-western (government) forces in Laos, with both the Soviet Union and the United States attempting to deliver weapons, to help the group they are comfortable with to win. The third political force in the country was the group around Prince Suvanna Phuma,
In May 1961, the Laos conference took place in Geneva, at which a coalition government between neutralists (Prince Suvanna Phuma), communists (Prince Suvanna Vong) and followers of the king (Prince Boun Oum) was decided. But the newly formed government of national unity did not prevent the civil war in Laos from starting again.
In the mid-1960s, Laos was drawn into the Vietnam War. The United States bombed areas in the east of Laos through which the so-called Ho Chi Minh Path led, on which North Vietnam supplied the Communist Viet Cong in South Vietnam with supplies. After the United States withdrew its troops from South Vietnam in 1973, there was another ceasefire in Laos between the hostile camps and a National Unity government led by Suvanna Phuma. The country’s greatest political force at the time was the Laotian Revolutionary People’s Party (LRVP), which originated from the Pathet Lao movement. When the communist forces came to power in Vietnam and Cambodia, there was also a revolution in Laos, in which the Laotian communists succeeded in taking power.
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In 1975 the monarchy was abolished and instead the Lao Democratic Republic was proclaimed, which was heavily influenced by Communist Vietnam. The first president was Suvanna Vong, who made the LRVP a unitary party and banned all other political parties. The socialist planned economy led to a further deterioration in the economic situation in the country, which was already weakened by the long civil was. Among the many Laotians who fled the country from the Communist re-education camps were many intellectuals and opposition figures, as well as high dignitaries of Buddhism.
Abandonment of the state goal socialism
In 1991 a new constitution was passed, which still laid down the leadership claim of the ruling party LRVP, but no longer named socialism as a state goal and guaranteed the right to freedom of religion. The economy also showed signs of liberalization in the form of market economy principles. The Laotian government is continuing the course of cautious liberalization. In 1996 there was a cooperation agreement with the European Union, in 1997 Laos was accepted into the Southeast Asian association ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which was founded in 1967 by Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. During the economic and currency crisis in the Asian region in the late 1990s, which led to severe losses in the Laotian economy,The protests in the country against the communist government increased. The Saysomboun Special Zone, created in 1994 to better control the local population, was closed in early 2006. According to international human rights organizations, the military is said to have suffered serious human rights violations against the local Hmong.
In December 2009, around 4,500 members of the Hmong ethnic group were exposed from Thailand to Laos. Since foreign observers were not allowed to enter the Xaisomboun settlement area intended for them, it is not known what awaited those arriving there.
In the north of the country, opium poppies are illegally grown as a basis for opium and heroin; this represented a significant source of income for the population. According to the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), the acreage could be reduced by 94% by providing alternative income opportunities.