The History of Laos


Laos' early history was dominated by the wider Nan-chao kingdom, which was succeeded in the 14th century by the local kingdom of Lan Xang that lasted until its decline in the 18t century, after which Thailand assumed control of the separate principalities that remained. These then came under French influence during the 19th century and were incorporated into French Indochina in 1893. Following a Japanese occupation during World War II, the country became independent in 1949 as the Kingdom of Laos.

Political unrest in neighboring Vietnam dragged Laos into the greater Second Indochina War which was a destabilizing factor that contributed to civil war and several coups d’état. In 1975 the communist Pathet Lao movement overthrew the royal government and took control of the country, which they promptly renamed the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Initial closer ties to Vietnam and socialization were replaced by a relaxation of economic restrictions in the late 1980s and the admission into ASEAN in 1997.