Laos (pronounced "Louse") is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia that nobody cares about. It is famous for being bombed by the US during the Vietnam War, having more waterfalls than people, and producing opium for the world's heroin addicts.
History[edit | edit source]
Laos was once part of a powerful kingdom called Lan Xang ("Land of a Million Elephants"), which ruled over most of Indochina from the 14th to 18th centuries. However, due to internal conflicts and foreign invasions, Lan Xang gradually disintegrated into three smaller kingdoms: Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Champasak.
In the 19th century, Laos became a French colony as part of French Indochina. The French exploited Laos for its natural resources such as rubber, tin, and coffee. They also built some nice colonial buildings and introduced baguettes and croissants to the local cuisine.
During World War II, Laos was occupied by Japan. After the war, Laos declared its independence from France with the help of Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh. However, France did not recognize Laos' sovereignty and fought a bloody war against the Lao nationalists until 1954.
In 1954, Laos became an independent constitutional monarchy under King Sisavang Vong. However, the country soon plunged into civil war between the royalist government supported by the US and Thailand; the communist Pathet Lao supported by North Vietnam; and the neutralist faction led by Prince Souvanna Phouma.
The civil war lasted until 1975 when the Pathet Lao took over Vientiane and abolished the monarchy. They renamed the country as Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) and established a one-party socialist state allied with Vietnam and Soviet Union.
Since then, Laos has been ruled by a secretive politburo that controls all aspects of life in Laos. The LPDR claims to be pursuing a "New Economic Mechanism" that allows some market reforms while maintaining strict political control. In reality, the LPDR is one of the most corrupt and repressive regimes in Asia that relies on foreign aid and drug trafficking to survive.