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Laos PDR is landlocked country in Southeast Asia with the area of 236,800 sq km and its population was estimated 6.8 millions in 2009. With 55% of population is Laos ethnic group who was assumed to migrate from southern part of China since 8th century at same time as Tai-Syam and Tai-Yuan of central and northern Thailand, and the Tai-Shan of northeast Burma. They are called Tai to distinguish them from the citizens (Thai) of modern Thailand, though the word is the same. All spoke closely related Tai languages, practised wet-rice cultivation along river valleys, and organised themselves into small principalities, known as Tai peoples. They included the Tai-Lao of Laos, the meuang, each presided over by an hereditary ruler, or chao meuang (lord of the meuang).

The Tai-Lao, or Lao for short, moved slowly down the rivers of northern Laos, like the Nam Ou and the Nam Khan, running roughly from northeast to southwest, until they arrived at the Mekong, the Great River. Laos initiated  its history to the Kingdom which existed from the 14th to the 18th century when it split into three separate kingdoms.

In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three kingdoms, Kingdom of Luang Phrabang, Kingdom of Vientiane and Kingdom of Champasak, uniting to form what is now known as Laos. Laos was firstly declare independent in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but returned to French rule until it was granted autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ended the monarchy, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975.

Lan Xang  1353-1893

The first extended Lao kingdom dates from the mid-14th century as Kingdom of Lan Xang At the beginning of the 13th century, the great Khmer king Jayavarman VII, who had re-established Cambodian power and built the city of Angkor Thom, sent his armies north to extend the Khmer empire to include all of the middle Mekong region and north-central Thailand. But the empire was overstretched, and by the mid-13th century the Khmer were in retreat.  Lan Xang was founded by a Lao warlord, Fa Ngum, who educated from Angkor and The Khmer gave Fa Ngum a Khmer princess and an army, and sent him north to wrest the middle Mekong from the control of Sukhotai north-central Thailand, and so divert and weaken the Tai-Syam kingdom. In this he was successful.  Fa Ngum organized conquered principalities into provinces (muang), claimed the crown of Xieng Dong Xieng Thong from his Uncle, in June 1354 now with an army of more than 50,000 soldiers was crowned ruler of Lan Xang at Vientiane, the site of one of his victory of Phay Nam. The "million elephants under the white parasol" of the kingdom's name alluded to his formidable war machine.

The Kingdom of Lan Xang extended from the borders of China south to Sambor below the Mekong rapids at Khong Island, and from the Vietnamese border to the western escarpment of the Khorat Plateau. It was thus one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. Fa Ngum ruled Lan Xang for 20 years, surviving periods of religous strife and almost constant warfare along his ill-defined borders, until he was deposed by the court ministers in favor of his son Oun Hueun (Sam Sen Thai) in 1373 AD. Apparently, the ministers felt that a less belligerent Lan Xang would benefit due to its central location from trade between the Siamese (Thai) kingdoms to the west and Annam (Vietnam) to the east. The change also reflected the declining influence of the Khmer Empire to the south. Oun Hueun was no puppet, however, maintaining a large army and ruling nearly 43 years until 1416 AD. By the end of his reign, Lan Xang was the dominant power in the region. Oun Hueun was succeeded by his son Lam Kham Deng, who ruled until 1428 AD.

With the exception of an Annamese invasion in 1479 AD, Lan Xang enjoyed a long period of peace until the reign of Photisarath (1520-48 AD). Photisarath involved Lan Xang in what became a 200 year struggle against Myanmar and Siam. Photisarath waged three wars against Ayutthaya (in Siam) and succeeded in placing his son Setthathirath on the throne of the Siamese province of Chiang Mai (Chiengmai), marking Lan Xang's maximum territorial expansion.

Setthathirath assumed the throne on Photisarath's death, and ruled for 23 years (1548-1571 AD) with mixed results, losing Chiang Mai to the Myanmar and being forced to transfer his capital from Luang Prabang to Vien Chan (now Vientiane). Hard-pressed by Myanmar (Burma), he repulsed two invasions in1565 and 1570 AD. But on his death in 1571 AD, Lan Xang was ravaged by the Burmese and reduced to vassal status until 1637 AD.Between 1763 and 1769, Burmese armies overran northern Laos and annexed Luang Phrabang, whileChampasak eventually came under Siamese suzerainty. Chao Anouvong was installed as a vassal king of Vientiane by the Siamese. He encouraged a renaissance of Lao fine arts and literature and improved relations with Luang Phrabang. Although he was pressured to pay tribute to the Vietnamese, he rebelled against the Siamese. The rebellion failed and Vientiane was ransacked.[12] Anouvong was taken to Bangkok as a prisoner, where he later died.


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