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A History of Laos


Fa Ngum (reign 1353-73) found the Kingdom of Lan Xang.

Vietnam invaded the Kingdom of Lan Xang.

Learn More About It

A History of Laos, by Martin Stuart-Fox, focuses on the period from the founding of modern Laos as a French colony to its independence, involvement in the war in Vietnam, the formation of the communist republic, and the present authoritarian government. The author shows how the nationalist struggle for independence and unity was subverted by foreign intervention, and how the country has now resumed its traditional role as a neutral state in Southeast Asia. This book provides essential background on modern Laos and the challenges it now faces.

Source: Editorial Review.

Xetthathirat unified the kingdoms of Lan Xang and Lan Na.

Lao capital moved from Luang Prabang to Vientiane.

Burma invaded the Kingdom of Lan Xang.

Burma turned the Kingdom of Lan Xang into a  vassal state.

A Taste of Lao Music

Anthology of World Music: The Music of Laos
  On the Mékong
      windows media
      real audio
  Wishes for Prosperity
      windows media
      real audio
  Folk Song of the North
      windows media
      real audio
  Melodies for Two
      windows media
      real audio

Kingdom of Lan Xang renounced tributary ties to Burma.

First Europeans to visit Lao capital Vientiane.

1707, 1713
Kingdom of Lan Xang divided into into three kingdoms of Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Champasak.

Aerial Combat In Laos

In Cheating Death: Combat Air Rescues in Vietnam and Laos, George J. Marrett depicts some of the most compelling aerial combat of any war, capturing the people, places, and battles with a unique blend of warts-and-all clarity, heart-pounding passion, and mordant wit. The thrilling rescue of "Streetcar 304" and William Jones’ selfless act of heroism that earned him the Medal of Honor are but two of some of the most searing tableau found in the literature of the Vietnam War.

It reads like the finest combat fiction, crackling with literary adrenaline and evoking a rich, distinctive pathos, but Cheating Death is the real deal: its heroes, cowards, jokers, and casualties all have names and faces readers will find difficult to forget.

Source: Editorial Review.

Siam turned the three Lao kingdoms of Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Champasak into vassal states.

Chau Anuvong battled Siam for Lao independence. Siam destroyed Lao capital Vientiane.

First Hmong to migrate into Laos.

A Taste of Hmong Music

The Music of the Hmong People of Laos
  New Year's Songs: Qeej Kawm Ntawv
      windows media
      real audio
  New Year's Songs: Lug Txaj Sib Dleev
      windows media
      real audio
  Courtship Instruments: Tsaaj Ntsaws
      windows media
      real audio
  Courtship Instruments: Tsaaj Nplaim
      windows media
      real audio

French explorer Henri Mouhot settled in Luang Prabang.




Luang Prabang


February 1887
First French Vice-Consul Auguste Pavie settled in Luang Prabang.


French colonial rule began.

May 1893
French military forces occupied Lao territories east of the Mekong river.

July 1893
France seized Lao territories east of the Mekong river from Siam.

October 3, 1893
France and Siam signed a treaty to formalize French seizure of Lao territories east of the Mekong river.

France divided Laos into Upper Laos and Lower Laos.

January 15, 1896
Anglo-French Convention defined British and French territories in mainland Southeast Asia.

Laos Travel

  Search for Flights to Laos with and Save
  Search for Cars in Laos with and Save
  Search for Hotels in Laos with and Save

April 19, 1899
French colonial rule established under Résident Supérieur in Vientiane.

Revolt in southern Laos.

Sisavangvong (reign 1904-59) became king.






Revolt in northern Laos.

Revolts in Luang Namtha and northeast Laos. - Great rooms at Great Prices!

August 30, 1923
First session of the Indigenous Consultative Assembly.

June 5, 1930
French Legislative Council designated Laos as a French colony.

Did You Know?

The biggest bully in Laotian history was the United States which, starting in 1964, carried on a "secret war" against Laos. By the time of the ceasefire in February 1973, Laos had become the most heavily bombed nation in the history of the world. In One Foot in Laos, renowned travel writer Dervla Murphy went to Laos in 1997 and discovered a country where the people-kind, gentle, welcoming-more than compensate for everything that can go wrong. But she also discovered that the persisting problems bequeathed by its recent past are tragic and other problems threaten its immediate future. A series of chance meetings left her with a profound sense of a beautiful country and a unique culture threatened-once again-by the extreme pressures of the modern world.

Source: Editorial Review.

Luang Prabang designated as a protectorate of France.

Revolt in the Bolaven region of Laos.

August 30, 1940
Matsuoka-Henry Pact ended the Franco-Thai War; Thailand seized Lao territories west of the Mekong river.

May 9, 1941
Peace Convention between France and Thailand.

Did You Know?

Starting in 1960, Hmong guerrilla soldiers, under the command of General Vang Pao, functioned as the hands and feet of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's secret war against communist forces in Laos. Operating out of Long Cheng, the Hmong soldiers allowed the CIA to accomplish two objectives: to maintain the perception of United States neutrality in Laos and to tie up North Vietnamese troops in Laos who would otherwise have been sent to fight in South Vietnam.

The U.S. government had quietly pledged to General Vang Pao and the Hmong that the Americans would take care of them in the event that Laos fell. In May 1975, this promise was redeemed when the CIA generated an air evacuation that moved more than 2,500 Hmong officers, soldiers and family members out of their mountain-ringed airbase. In Sky is Falling: An Oral History of the CIA's Evacuation of the Hmong from Laos, fifty or so Hmong and Americans involved in the evacuation provide herein a firsthand account of the 14-day evacuation and the events leading up to it. Their accounts document both the political and human aspects of this unusual historical event.

Source: Editorial Review.

August 29, 1941
Treaty of Protectorate between France and the Kingdom of Luang Prabang.

March  9, 1945
Japan occupied Laos.

April 8, 1945
Japan forced King Sisavangvong to declare Lao independence.

August 15, 1945
Japan surrendered.


September 15, 1945
Prince Phetxarat declared Lao independence.

October 12, 1945
Lao Issara  seized power in Vientiane, Savannakhét, and other towns; Lao Issara formed a provisional government.

King Sisavangvong deposed; France reoccupied Laos; Sisavangvong reinstated as king by the Lao Issara government; French reclaimed Vientiane, and Lao Issara government fleed to Thailand; the Kingdom of Laos established.

November 1946
Thailand returned territories west of the Mekong river to Laos.

May 11, 1947
Laos established as a constitutional monarchy.

August 1947
Elections for National Assembly; Prince Suvannarat formed a government of the Kingdom of Laos.

Kaison Phomvihan formed Latsavong detachment, armed forces of Pathet Lao, and the Lao People's Liberation Army.

May 1949
Suphanuvong left the Lao Issara.

July 19, 1949
Franco-Lao General Convention gave Laos limited self-government within the French Union.

October 1949
Lao Issara government dissolved; members returned to Laos; some members joined the Pathet Lao.

February 7, 1950
United States and Britain recognized Laos as an Associated State in the French Union.

August 1950
Pathet Lao formed Resistance Government.

February 1951
Indochinese Communist Party dissolved; communist parties established in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

November 1951
Suvanna Phuma formed his first government.

April, December 1953
Vietminh invaded Laos.

October 22, 1953
Franco-Lao Treaty of Amity and Association transferred French powers to the Royal Lao Government; France retained control of the military.

May 7, 1954
France surrendered at Dien Bien Phu.

July 20, 1954
Conference on Indochina held in Geneva; Vietminh agreed to withdraw from Laos; Lao provinces Phôngsali and Houaphan designated regroupment areas for Pathet Lao; Royal Lao Government agreed to integrate Pathet Lao fighters; International Control Commission to monitor implementation of agreements.

March 22, 1955
Lao People's Party established; first Congress held.

December 14, 1955
Laos admitted to the United Nations.

1956 - 57
Royal Lao Government and the Pathet Lao began negotiations.

January 1956
Pathet Lao formed the Lao Patriotic Front.

March 1956
Suvanna Phuma formed his second government. Suvanna Phuma government negotiated with the Pathet Lao to form a coalition government.

November 19, 1957
First coalition government formed.

May 4, 1958
Lao Patriotic Front won elections for the National Assembly

June 10, 1958
U.S.-backed Committee for the Defense of the National Interest formed.

July 22, 1958
Suvanna Phuma resigned. U.S. suspended  aid.

August 18, 1958
Phuy Xananikon formed rightist government; Lao Patriotic Front excluded from rightist government.

July - August 1959
Fighting broke out in northern Laos; United Nations investigated charges of involvement of North Vietnam.

July 27, 1959
Lao Patriotic Front members arrested in Vientiane.

October 29, 1959
Savangvatthana became king after King Sisavangvong's death.

December 31, 1959
Phuy Xananikon resigned after an attempted military coup d'etat.

January 1960
Ku Aphai formed provisional government.

April 24, 1960
Elections for National Assembly believed to be rigged.

August 8-9, 1960
Captain Konglae conducted a successful neutralist coup d'état against rightist government; General Phoumi Nosavan formed counter coup d'etat committee in Savannakhét and declared martial law.

August 16, 1960
Suvanna Phuma formed his third government.

December 13-16, 1960
General Phoumi Nosavan occupied Vientiane.

Communists recognized neutralist government of Suvanna Phuma; Capitalists recognized rightist government of Prince Boun Oum. Heavy fighting resumed with North Vietnam's involvement.

January 1961
Neutralist-Pathet Lao forces seized Plain of Jars.

March 23, 1961
U.S. announced support for neutral position of Laos in the Vietnam War.

May 1961-June 1962
Second Geneva Conference on Laos held; Neutralist, Pathet Lao, and rightist factions agreed to a second coalition government.

May 1962
Rightist forces defeated in the Battle of Namtha.

June 23, 1962
Second coalition government formed.

July 1962
Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos signed in Geneva.

April 1, 1963
Second coalition government collapsed after the assassination of Kinim Phonsena.

April 6, 1964
Second congress of the Lao Patriotic Front held.

April 19, 1964
Rightist forces attempted a military coup d'etat.

May 1964
Pathet Lao defeated Neutralist forces on Plain of Jars; U.S. began bombing of Laos.

January 31, 1965
Rightist forces attempted a coup d'etat.

October 5, 1965
Pathet Lao army named Lao People's Liberation Army.

September 1966
New elections held.

January 1968
Fighting between Lao People's Liberation Army and Royal Lao Army began; Pathet Lao-North Vietnamese forces captured Nam Bak and Phu Pha Thi territories.

October 1968
Third congress of Lao Patriotic Front held.

September 1969
Hmong forces captured Plain of Jars.

February 1970
Pathet- Lao-North Vietnamese forces recaptured Plain of Jars.

February 1971
South Vietnamese forces failed to  take control of the Ho Chi Minh trail.

January 2, 1972
Elections for National Assembly held.

February 1972
Second congress of Lao People's Liberation Party held.

Royal Lao Government and Pathet Lao held negotiations for a cease-fire and coalition government.

February 21, 1973
Vientiane Agreement signed; cease-fire proclaimed; U.S. bombing stopped.

September 14, 1973
Third Coalition government formed.

April 5, 1974
Provisional Government of National Union established..

May 24, 1974
National Political Consultative Committee adopted Eighteen-Point Political Program.

April 13, 1975
Fighting resumed; National Assembly dissolved.

May 9, 1975
Rightist ministers and generals fled to Thailand.


August 23, 1975
Lao People's Liberation Army entered Vientiane.

November 1975
Pathet Lao's local and provincial elections held.

December 1, 1975
King Savangvatthana




December 2, 1975
Lao People's Democratic Republic established

December 1975
Prince Suphanuvong became first President; Kaison Phomvihan became first Prime Minister.




May 1976
Lao People's Revolutionary Party  Central Committee established guidelines for the establishment of socialist revolution.

March 1977
Hmong uprising began.

July 18, 1977
25-Year Lao-Vietnamese Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed.

February 1979
Lao Front for National Construction replaced Lao Patriotic Front.

Lao Traditions & Culture

  Lao Textiles and Traditions
  Laos: Culture and Society

January 1978
Interim Three-Year Economic Development Plan began.

May 1978
Agricultural Cooperativization programs began.

July 1978
Laos supported Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia.

February 20, 1979
Lao Front for National Construction formed. - Fast and Easy!

July 1979
Agricultural Cooperativization programs ended.

December 1979
Seventh Resolution of Party Central Committee implemented a New Economic Policy.

January 1981
First Five-Year Plan began.

April 27-30, 1982
Third Congress of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party held.

January 10, 1984
Suvanna Phuma died in Vientiane.




Suvanna Phuma


May 1984
Constitution Drafting Committee formed

June 1984
Border conflict with Thailand.

March 1-7, 1985
First national population census held.

December 1985
Tenth-year anniversary of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

January 1986
Second Five-Year Plan began.

November 13-15, 1986
Fourth Congress of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party implemented a market economy.

November 1986
Kaison Phomvihan became General

November 1987-88
New border conflict with Thailand.

June & November 1988
Elections at district and provincial levels held.

November 23, 1988
Foreign Ministry asked Vietnamese troops to leave Laos.

March 1989
First national elections for Supreme People's Assembly held.

April 1990
Lao People's Revolutionary Party implemented a draft constitution.

December 15-17, 1990
Chinese Premier Li Peng visited Laos.

Medium-Term Policy Framework replaced Third Five-Year Plan.

March 27-29, 1991
Kaison Phomvihan named President of the State and the Party; Suphanuvong retired from Lao government.

August 13, 1991
Supreme People's Assembly established a new Lao constitution.

November 21, 1992
Kaison Phomvihan died; Nuhak Phumsavan named President of the State; Khamtai Siphandon became Prime Minister and President of the Party.

December 1992
Elections for National Assembly held.

Lao Language

  Lao for Beginners: An Introduction to the Written and Spoken Language of Laos
  English-Lao/Lao-English Dictionary
  Lao Basic Course
Lonely Planet Lao Phrasebook
  Lao-English/English-Lao Dictionary and Phrasebook

January 1994
Phoumi Vongvichit, former acting president, died.

April 8, 1994
First bridge connecting Laos with Thailand opened.

March 18-20, 1996
Sixth Congress of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party held.

History Chronology Source: Stuart-Fox, Martin. A History of Laos. Cambridge University Press. 1997.
Pictures Source: Kremmer, Christopher. Stalking the Elephant Kings: In Search of Laos. University of Hawaii Press. 1998.
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