Laos stood in the 13th century under the
influence of the Khmer kingdom of Angkor, from which
Buddhism was introduced. After Angkor's fall, a Laotian
kingdom was formed. This came to be dominated by Siam
(now Thailand) in the late 17th century, who was forced
to relinquish the area to the French in the late 1800s.
Laos became part of French Indochina, and during World
War II it was occupied by Japan. In 1953, Laos became
Very little is known about Laos history before the
1300s. It is known that Thai-speaking people began to
migrate into the area from southern China in the 600s
and settle along the Mekong River.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Laos, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The Lao people came somewhat later, between the 800
and the 1100s. In Luang Prabang, Xiangkhoang and That
Phonom, cultural and political centers emerged during
the same period, dominated by the Lao people. These
little kingdoms were part of the Angkor kingdom's sphere
When Angkor collapsed in the 1300s, a number of
Laotian minorities united and formed the larger kingdom
of Lan Xang, which had its center in Luang Prabang. Lan
Xang's heyday fell in 1637–1694 under King
Soulignavongsa. After his death, a power struggle broke
out, resulting in the emergence of three smaller
When the French began to show interest in the region
in the late 1800s, the three kingdoms had become vassal
states to Siam. In 1893, Siam was forced to sign an
agreement to relinquish areas east of the Mekong River
to the French. Laos was thus incorporated into the
French Indochina colony.
For France, Laos was just one step on the road to
Siam. The French abolished slavery and took control of
the tax system, but otherwise the local elite continued
to manage the country. The king remained on the throne.
Under these circumstances, the colonial period became
No Laotian nationalism emerged until World War II. In
1941, French Indochina was occupied by Japan, but France
continued to rule the area until 1945, when the Japanese
took direct control of the colony. King Sisavangvong
then took the opportunity to declare Laos independently,
but after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, France
The domestic political forces that had emerged during
the war could be divided into two main directions. One
was the liberation movement Lao Issara, which had strong
ties to the left-wing guerrillas in Vietnam and who
wanted to remove the French from the area. The other
direction consisted of groups that, on the contrary,
feared Vietnamese influence and therefore wanted to
retain French rule.
After the war, France concentrated its interest on
Vietnam. Laos was given away for ever greater
self-determination to become completely independent in
Laos becomes a WTO member
After years of negotiations, the communist-controlled Laos joins the World
Trade Organization, which works for free trade.