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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Laos History and Culture

        The country has long been occupied by migrating Thais (including Shans, Siamese and Lao) and slash-and-burn Hmong/Mien hill tribes.
The first Lao principalities were consolidated in the 13th century following the invasion of south-west China by Kublai Khan's Mongol hordes.
        In the mid-14th century, a Khmer-sponsored warlord, Fa Ngum, combined a number of scattered principalities around Luang Prabang to form his own kingdom, Lan Xang ('a million elephants').
The kingdom initially prospered, but internal divisions and pressure from neighbours caused it to split in the 17th century into three warring kingdoms centred on Luang Prabang, Wieng Chan (Vientiane) and Champasak.
         By the end of the 18th century, most of Laos came under Siamese (Thai) sovereignty but the territory was also being pressured by Vietnam. Unable or unwilling to serve two masters, the country went to war with Siam in the 1820s.
         This disastrous ploy led to all three kingdoms falling under Thai control. By the late 19th century, France had established French Indochina in the Vietnamese provinces of Tonkin and Annam.
The Thais eventually ceded all of Laos to the French, who were content to use the territory merely as a buffer between its colonial holdings and Siam.

       About 60% of Lao, mainly the lowland Lao and a sprinkling of Thai tribes, are Theravada Buddhists. Every Lao Buddhist male is expected to become a monk for a short period of his life, usually between school and starting a career or getting married.
The main non-Buddhist religion is phii worship, a spirit cult which is officially banned.


Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM

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