History

Early History

 

In its history Laos was highly influenced by external forces. Due to bad geographic location and ragged landscape, Laos just had solid external borders in the 20th century. Until the 14th century Laos was separated in different territories and was ruled by Siamese, Burmese, Chinese and Khmer (territory of today’s Cambodia) rulers. During the 14th century prince Prinz Chao Fa Ngum shaped the kingdom Lan Xang (land of a million elephants (not elefants), whose borders (not boarders) reached till present-day Cambodian land. Until today Lan Xang has been seen as the cornerstone of the Laotian state, as Chao Fa Ngum was the first who reunited the Laotian principalities and could fight foreign powers with success. The next centuries this kingdom lasted. At the beginning of the 18th century the empire disintegrated and three parts emerged. They had to face continual attacks till at the beginning of the 19th century Laos was fully invaded by the Siamese.

 

Colonisation by the French

 

After the defeat of the Siamese against the French in 1893 Laos became a protectorate of the French. During the time of imperialism the French colony Indochina consisted of today’s Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. In contrast to Vietnam the French had no big interest in Laos. After discovering that the Mekong river couldn’t function as waterway to China because of the many waterfalls, Laos mainly functioned as buffer state to the British influenced Siam. During World War Two Laos was conquered by Japan. After the Japanese capitulation in 1945 Laos declared on the 12th of October 1945 its independence, but was soon conquered again by the French. It was during this period that the Laotian independence movement Lao Issara formed. In 1949 Laos gained more freedom granted by the French. After the military defeat of the French in 1954 in Dien Bien Phu against the Vietminh France let down all colonial demands in Indochina and Laos gained full independence.

 

In Vientiane finden sich noch einige Gebäude aus der französischen Kolonialzeit, die teilweise renoviert wurden und jetzt als Hotels genutzt werden, oder wie hier sich in einem Charme des Verfalls präsentieren.

In Vientiane there are still some buildings of the French colonial time, which have been renovated and are used as hotels today

 

Independence and Civil War

 

This didn’t mark the end of tensions in Laos. Lao Issara split in three parts, also in the communist Pathet Lao which led to civil war. With rising Vietnam war and the presence of the Americans who followed the “Domio-Theory” by military engaging in Asia and contain communism this way, Laos was soon under external influence again. The kingdom Laos got huge support by the Americans in fighting the communist Pathet Lao. The USA fought Pathet Lao and the North Vietnamese military by aerial bombardments as the sustenance path went from the south of Vietnam to Laos (the so called “Ho-Chi-Minh Trail”).
After the end of war in 1973 and the reunion of Vietnam in 1975, and the victory of the Red Khmer in 1975 in Cambodia, also in 1975 on the 2nd of December People’s Democratic Republic Laos was exclaimed by the Pathet Lao. This marks the end of nearly 600 years of monarchy and Laos was the last of the three states formerly known as Indochina communistic. This led to many Laotian refugees who settled in the monarchic Thailand or in the USA and Australia. Today still many Laotians live in these countries.

 

Den kommunistischen „Charme“ des Landes kann man am besten in den Museen der Hauptstadt betrachten, wie hier im Lao People's Army Museum, oder im Lao Revolutionary Museum. Ist im Alltäglichen kaum noch etwas vom Realsozialismus zu spüren, findet sich hier alles, was an UdSSR und Co. erinnert.

Den kommunistischen „Charme“ des Landes kann man am besten in den Museen der Hauptstadt betrachten, wie hier im Lao People’s Army Museum, oder im Lao Revolutionary Museum. Ist im Alltäglichen kaum noch etwas vom Realsozialismus zu spüren, findet sich hier alles, was an UdSSR und Co. erinnert.

 

Socialism from 1975

 

Following this a strict isolation politic started, expropriation of privates and agricultural cooperatives were established. This led to economic stagnation and to food shortage. With Glasnost and Perestroika in the USSR at the beginning of the 1980s Laos became also more political liberal. The end of communism in Europe and the breakdown of the USSR at the beginning of the 1990s marked the start of a new time in Laos as the former financial supplying states didn’t exist anymore. Laos opening to a Western world led to more investments, setup of industry which still remains slow and growing tourism, a source of income which gets more and more significant. Similar like in the neighbouring states China and Vietnam the still officially existing planned economy is developed to a more market-orientated one.
2015 the People’s Democratic Republic Laos celebrated its 40th jubilee.

 

Plakativer Ausdruck des Wandels hin zur Moderne: Mercedes Cabrio neben Tuk-Tuk an der Promenade in Vientiane

Plakativer Ausdruck des Wandels hin zur Moderne: Mercedes Cabrio neben Tuk-Tuk an der Promenade in Vientiane

 

 

Source: Lambert, Tim (2015): A short history of Laos. In: http://www.localhistories.org/laos.html.