Laos [Lao People’s Democratic Republic] (Saathiaranarath Prachhathipatay Prachhachhon Lao)
- Terry E. Miller
[Lao People’s Democratic Republic] (Saathiaranarath Prachhathipatay Prachhachhon Lao)
The Lao People's Democratic Republic is a small, landlocked country in mainland South-east Asia bordering Vietnam, China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Cambodia. Before its partition into the princedoms of Luang Prabang, Vientiane (also spelt Viang Chan) and Champassak soon after 1700, the 14th-century kingdom of Lan Sang (‘Million Elephants’) was a significant power in the region. After 1827, when Siamese armies defeated the Lao and sacked Vientiane, most Lao-occupied territory west of the Mekong river was absorbed into Siam (present-day Thailand). Although much of the current population of north-east Thailand is culturally Lao, their music has developed on a different path, one influenced by Bangkok's modernization and the development of urban popular culture. About half of the 5·3 million population is comprised of upland, non-Lao-speaking groups, many of whom practise swidden agriculture on the mountainsides. The ethnic Lao population is concentrated in lowland valleys, especially along the Mekong and its tributaries, and on the Vientiane plain north of the capital. Laos was a kingdom until ...