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Thursday 13th June
Laos Facts
The highest point in Laos is Phou Bia (2,817 m).

Archaeological evidence shows that Laos has been inhabited for over ten thousand years.

The "Plain of Jars" in Xieng Khouang Province is the location of hundreds of jars carved from rock. The jars, which date from the Neolithic period, are up to 3.25 metres high.

Stone columns in Huaphan Province also date from the Neolithic period.

Laos is named after the Lao people, the largest ethnic group in Laos.

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.

Prince Fa Ngum, who spent time in the Angkor court, was the founder of Lan Xang.

Lan Xang means [Kingdom of] a Million Elephants.

The Kingdom of Lan Xang began to decline in the seventeenth century.

In the late eighteenth century Siam (Thailand) gained influence over Laos.

Following colonization of Vietnam the French began to incorporate Laos into French Indochina.

Laos became a French Protectorate in 1893.

The Japanese occupied Laos towards the end of the Second World War (1939-1945).

France regained control of Laos in 1946.

In 1950 Laos was allowed semi-autonomy within the French Union.

Laos became independent, as a constitutional monarchy, in 1954.

Independence was followed by civil war between the royalists and the communists.

During the Vietnamese War, Vietnamese soldiers moved into Laos. As a result, Laos suffered bombing from the United States.

In 1975 the Lao People's Front took control of the country and proclaimed the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Following reforms introduced by Gorbachev in the USSR Laos began a gradual return to private enterprise (1986).

Laos became a member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in 1997.

World Bank loans for Nam Theun 2 hydroelectric dam were approved in 2005.

President Barack Obama was the first President of the United States to visit Laos (September 2016).

In September 2017 it was reported that Laos was the fastest growing ivory market in the world, undermining the movement to stop this illegal trade.

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