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Introduction: Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th Century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist...

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Political and Social Overview: Laos became the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) on 2 December 1975 following the abdication of the King, after many years of civil war and political instability.

The Lao PDR is a nominally Marxist-Leninist state ruled by the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The eleven-member Politburo of the LPRP, drawn from its Central Committee, is the key decision-making body. A National Assembly, which is elected by the people from a list of candidates approved by the Party, meets twice a year and is responsible for scrutinising proposed legislation.

Since 1986 Laos, in line with its larger ...

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History: Laos traces its first recorded history and its origins as a unified state to the emergence of the Kingdom of Lan Xang (literally, "million elephants") in 1353. Under the rule of King Fa Ngum, this powerful and wealthy kingdom held suzerainty over much of what today is Thailand and Laos. His successors, especially King Setthathirat in the 16th century, helped establish Buddhism as the predominant ...

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International Relations: Laos' Relations with its Neighbours

Although the Lao people are much more closely related to the Thais than to other neighbours in language and culture, Laos was linked to Vietnam and Cambodia as part of French Indochina from the end of the nineteenth century until independence in 1953. Following an attempt to steer a neutral course, ties with Vietnam and Cambodia were strengthened after the communist victories in all three countries in 1975. Relations with the strongly anti-Communist governments of Thailand were difficult. In the aftermath of the Sino-Vietnamese rift of the late 1970s and 1980s, Laos' relations with ...

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Historical research shows that the rudimentary structures of a multiethnic state existed before the founding of the Kingdom of Lan Xang in the thirteenth century. These prethirteenth-century structures consisted of small confederative communities in river valleys and among the mountain peoples, who found security away from the well-traveled rivers and overland tracks where the institutions and ...

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Area Handbook Series
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