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Laos Information - Page 2
Archaeological evidence shows that Laos has been inhabited for over ten thousand years.

In the fourteenth century Laos was part of the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. The kingdom also included large parts of present-day Cambodia and Thailand.

The Kingdom of Lan Xang began to decline in the seventeenth century coming under Siamese (Thai) influence in the eighteenth century.

Following colonization of neighbouring Vietnam, the French began to incorporate Laos into French Indochina. Laos became a French Protectorate in 1893.

In 1950 Laos gained semi-autonomy within the French Union. Full independence, achieved in 1954, was followed by civil war between royalists and communists.

The Lao People's Front took control of the country in 1975 proclaiming the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Following reforms introduced by Gorbachev in the USSR, Laos began a process of decentralization.

The economy of Laos benefits from international aid. Foreign investment aims to improve the country's infrastructure.

The agricultural sector provides employment for the largest percentage of the working population and earns the largest percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Agricultural products are rice, maize, sweet potatoes, peanuts, ginger, sugarcane, coffee, tea, cotton and tobacco. Cattle, pigs, poultry and water buffaloes are reared.

Industry accounts for a significant percentage of the GDP. Industries include hydroelectric power, mining, construction, cement, timber, furniture, garments, agricultural processing and beverages.

Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange. The National Tourism Authority of Lao PDR is keen to promote Laos as an ecotourism destination. (2008)

Laos has a strong oral tradition of passing on history and culture. Epic poems take many hours to recite. A popular story is the early life of Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha.

Traditional music is played on the khene, a bamboo instrument, composed of a number of pipes. The national dance is the Lamvong (Circle Dance).

Cultural organizations include the National School of Music and Dance and the Children's Cultural Center.

Crafts are weaving, bamboo and rattan products, wood carving, and silver work.

The traditional sports of Laos include sepak takraw, a ball game in which a ball made of rattan has to be kept in the air using any part of the body except the hands.

Football is also played. The Lao Football Federation was founded in 1951.

All religious holidays are celebrated. Republic Day is on 2 December.

The Lao New Year, an important festival, takes place in April.

News from Laos is available in Newslink.

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