Laos is an independent nation in Southeastern Asia. With the capital city of Vientiane, Laos 2020 population is estimated at 7,275,571 according to countryaah. 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 independent.
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.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: 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 of influence. For Laos political system, please check carswers.
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 kingdoms.
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 relatively stable.
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 regained control.
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 1953.
Laos becomes a WTO member
After years of negotiations, the communist-controlled Laos joins the World Trade Organization, which works for free trade.