Laos History and Politics
How long have people lived in Laos?
The area around Laos was settled 40,000 years ago, as evidence indicates. There were first settlements as early as 4000 BC. BC as well as contacts between the Indian and Chinese tribes who bordered the region.
Kingdom of a million elephants
The history of Laos has its origins in the 13th century AD, at which time the Laos tribe, originally from the south of China, immigrated to the region of what is now Laos.
In 1353, a kingdom called Lane (Lan) Xang was established and ruled by a prince named Fa Ngum. Translated, the name of this kingdom means “kingdom of millions of elephants”. At that time there were a lot of elephants in the area. The capital of this kingdom was called Luang Prabang.
This empire expanded into the 16th century, only to split into three sub-empires, one of which was today’s capital, Vientiane.
Problems with the neighboring country
Laos is a landlocked country that borders many other countries, including Thailand, the former Siam. You can also see this on the right on the map. It shows parts of Southeast Asia around 1400. The dark purple area is Siam, now Thailand, and the light purple area is Lan Xang, formerly Laos. Especially against this powerful empire of Siam, the Laotians had to assert themselves again and again, which they failed in the long run. The troops from Siam occupied parts of the country. In addition, there was colonialism in many European countries at the end of the 19th century. France in particular showed great interest in this Southeast Asian region.
Arts of Laos become Indochina
In 1893 the French conquered the left eastern bank of the Mekong River and made this region their dominion. The western side remained with Siam and the Mekong became the border. So Laos became a French protectorate and was part of the French Indochina colony.
But the population no longer wanted to be under French rule and wanted their own state. There was resistance against the French. In addition, Ho Chi Minh founded the Communist Party of Indochina in 1930 (more on the history of Vietnam).
Laos during World War II
Japan occupied Laos during World War II, but since Japan was one of the defeated nations in World War II, it had to give the country independence in 1945. Shortly afterwards it came under French influence again, in order to finally achieve complete independence in 1954.
Laos during the Vietnam War
During the Vietnam War, Laos couldn’t quite stay out of it, even though there was officially no war between Laos and the United States. Strategically, as a country located in Asia according to historyaah, Laos was important, because the Ho Chi Minh Trail partly ran through Laotian territory. The Viet Cong fought by the Americans received supplies via this path. Despite the country’s neutrality, the Americans dropped large amounts of explosives on Laos, making Laos one of the most bombed countries in the world. The victims have not been compensated to this day. Millions of explosives and cluster bombs are still lying around today, and people keep getting injured.
Laos People’s Democratic Republic
From 1953 to 1975 there was a civil war in Laos between the communist movement Pathet Lao and the royal government. In 1975 communist forces took over rule in Laos as well as in neighboring Vietnam. The country became the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos.
The Lao People’s Revolutionary Party rules the country to this day. It is therefore a one-party state. Laos suffered from severe economic problems and the government tried to introduce reforms from the mid-1980s to convert from a planned to a market economy. So you opened up to other countries as well. Laos has been one of the ASEAN states since 1997. The human rights are not respected in Laos today. Even if some things have improved, opposition members are persecuted, arrested and ended up in labor camps.