Laos, Kingdom of a Million Elephants
Laos, this country so mysterious of South-East Asia comes to light little by little thanks to tourism but is still an unknown land. While discovering Laos, we travel in the past, when Asian populations moved at the rhythm of kingdoms. This must-see destination is offering an incredible spiritual journey for all travelers, ready to understand local cultures. Today, we will tell you the history of this beautiful country.
A RICH HISTORY BUT COMPLEX
Laos’s history is complex, as for many countries in SouthEast Asia. This country of a bit less than 7 million inhabitants has been subject to very active nearby invaders as well as to French colonization. Laos knew waves of immigration coming from all the bordering countries what constituted its multicultural character. In 1353, the Lang Xang Kingdom is born, established by Fa Ngum. This kingdom of Khmer influence holds its name, Lang Xang, Kingdom of a Million Elephants, because elephant’s population in Laos was very important at this time. Quickly extending to bordering provinces of Burma, Siam and China, Buddhism set up durably in the kingdom, mingling with Khmer culture. Tensions with Siam Kingdom began to stain the aura of Lang Xang in XIXth century. On the other side, France settled down in what we called Indochina. Lusting after Laotian lands, France proposed a protectorate on East provinces of Laos, in 1893. Western part of Laos was under Tai influence.
World War II and the Indochina Warsuddenly disrupted Laos’s balance which found itself in the center of all attentions. Japan Empire invaded Indochina before understanding its defeat. Refusing the possibility that France recover Laos, Japanese negotiated with King Sisavang Vong until April 8th, 1945 for the independence of Laos. Few months after, Sisavang Vong, very loyal to French government, has been overthrew by the prince of the country to prevent Laos from falling again into the French claws. Nevertheless, in 1946, Laos has been attached to the French Union of Indochina. At the same time, Indochina War affected all the region. France finally gave independence to Laos in 1953, straight away taken back by Viet Minh, which started civil war. Finally after 36 years of conflicts and uncertainty, Laos achieved independence on December 2nd, 1975 to become the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
AN INCREDIBLE CULTURAL RICHNESS
As all his neighbors, Laos is a multicultural country. The different periods of Laos’s history enable a complex ethnical mix. So complex that we don’t identify yet all minority groups and clans on the territory. Today, we estimate between 65 and 129 ethnic groups living in Laos. Each of these minorities groups has its own traditions and faiths as well as his own dialect more or less close to Lao By Javierfv1212 language. Influenced by their diverse origins, Laotian kept most of animistic customs which gives rhythm to their life. Today, 30 % of Laos’s population is animistic and 60% Buddhist, in a total respect for others belief. This mix of culture feels has influence on Laos’s art, especially on sculpture, traditional music and dance. We mainly find Khmers, Viet and Thai characteristics. But the most impressive is Thai influence on architecture of religious monuments which are mostly in Luang Prabang and Vientiane (Vats, sharp and often gilded temples). The local gastronomy is also influenced, mixing the flavors and the spices of the Thailand, Vietnam and even China.
A COUNTRY, WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED
Laos is often combined to Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia touristic tours, proposed by travel agencies, becoming a very short step of the trip. In Amasia, we believe in the potential of this destination, in its cultural richness and its beauty. Between historical monuments, temples, luxuriant nature and adorable populations, Laos delight everyone visiting.
Luang Prabang, third biggest city of Laos is listed World Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 1995. Certainly, the most beautiful city of this small country, it offers a relaxing atmosphere and a quiet pace of life. Surrounded by nature, this city is a testimony of Laos’s history with 80 temples!
Vientiane, stands out from other capitals of the South-East Asia by its peaceful character, far from the mess of the nearby capitals. The city kept all its charm thanks to colonial buildings, French architecture, thanks to its size of provincial town and thanks to locals’ kindness. Situated on the left side of the Mekong River, Thailand border on the other side.