Laos


Figure 1.--Here we a group of Lao children washing in a steam in northern Laos. This is also where mother does the laundry. This may seem primitive, but notice the girl with a bag full of clean clothes and toiletries. As recently as the 1960s many Lao children bathed with a simple bar of soap and in many cases without any soap.

Landlocked Laos is one of the most isolated countries on earth. It is located in Southeast Asia, bordered by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thiland, and Burma. It is an elongated ciuntry with the southern border following the Mekong River. The terraine is rugged and heavily forested. Much of the level land most suitable for agriculture is along the Mekong River. The chief crop is rice, but benzoin, coffee, and opium are also important. The primary religion is Hinayana Buddhism which has been discouraged by the Communists. Laos was part of the Kymer Empire. The ethnicity is primarily Lao, one of the Thai tribes which pushed south into the area from YŁnnan, China (13th century). Laos was seized by Siam (Thiland) (early-19th centuyry). France seized contro (1893) and Laos became part of Indo-China. France granted independence (1954), but the Communist effort to seize power resulted in a civil war. The country because of its location was drawn into the Vietnam War and after the American withdrawl, the Communists seized control. We have some information on Laotian history. The country has made little progress in developing its economy. In part because of that and the country's raw beauty, Laos has attracted some adventurous tourists interested in what Southeast Asia was like before modern economic development began. They find lush tropical forests, busy traditional markets, rgreen ice fields, regal wats and occasional French colonial traces. Luang Prabang is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aging French colonial buildings on quaint lanes can be found with Buddhist temples and beutiful traditional Lao wooden homes. Procession of novice monks accept, but do not ask for alms at dawn. The most impressive temples are located in the capita, Vientiane.

Geography

Landlocked Laos is one of the most isolated countries on earth. It is located in Southeast Asia, bordered by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thiland, and Burma. It is an elongated ciuntry with the southern border following the Mekong River. The terraine is rugged and heavily forested. Much of the level land most suitable for agriculture is along the Mekong River. The chief crop is rice, but benzoin, coffee, and opium are also important.

History

The Lao people are believed to have begun to migrate into Southeast Asia from southern China (8th century AD). The first Laotian state was the Lan Xang kingdom (14th century). It split into three kingdoms (1713). The three kingdoms weakened by the split were overwealmed by the Thais. France ended Thasi rule and estanlished a protectorate (1893) as part of Indochina. Nationalist movements developed in Indochina during the early 20th century. The Japanese occupied Indochina during World War II which fueld the growrth of the nationaslists movements. France reestablished control after the defeat of the Japanese (1946). King Luang Prabang was constitutional monarch of Laos during French rule. France granted semiautonomy (1949). As a result of the growing Viet Minh rebellion against the French in Vietnam, France granted Laos independence within the French Union (1950). Prince Souphanouvong from Viet Minh conrolled territory organized the Pathet Lao, a Communist guerrila force (1951). Pathet Lao forces invaded central Laos leading to a civil war. A temporary ceasefire resulted from the Geneva Agreements of 1954 and an ensuing armistice. The Pathet Lao were left in control of the two northern provinces (1955). The Royalists were left in control of the rest of Laos. The French transferred full sovereignty to the Laotian Kingdom as a result of the Paris Agreements of 1954. Prince Souvanna Phouma, the royal prime minister, and Pathet Lao leader Prince Souphanouvong, the prime minister's half-brother, agreed to a unified government (1957). Thd Pathet Lao were to participate in the govermnent and their forces were to integrateon into the Royal Lsotian Army. This agreement broke down and fighting resumed (1959). The struggle became more complicated when Gen. Phoumi Nosavan, who controlledmost of the Royal Army, supported a pro-Western revolutionary government headed by Prince Boun Oum in the south. General Phoumi took Vientiane (December 1960). Souvanna Phouma fled to Cambodia. The Soviet bloc supported Souvanna Phouma. Another cease-fire was arranged (1961). The three princes agreed to a coalition government headed by Souvanna Phouma. Laos' future was determined in large measure by the much larger Vietnamn War.

Chronology

We begin to see images from Laos in the late-19th century, primarily because of the French colonial effort and the creation of Indo-China. Laos contunues to be a land largely untouched by the outside world. We have not yet found many images. We see some French impact in Vientiane, but it few other areas. The country side through the 1950s was left largely in the same way the French found it. Even as World War II engulfed Southeast Asia, the fighting swirlded around Laos, but the country was little affected. We still see a country with little ouside influence in the 1950s as the Vietnam War overtook the area. This time Laos was very much affected as the country became an important part of the Ho Chi Minh trail into South Vietnam. Since the Vietnam War we begin to see some Western clothing in Laos, but both geography and politics have left it a country still largely untouched by the outside world.

Economics

The country has made little progress in developing its economy. In part because of that and the country's raw beauty, Laos has attracted some adventurous tourists interested in what Southeast Asia was like before modern economic development began. They find lush tropical forests, busy traditional markets, rgreen ice fields, regal wats and occasional French colonial traces. Luang Prabang is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aging French colonial buildings on quaint lanes can be found with Buddhist temples and beutiful traditional Lao wooden homes. Procession of novice monks accept, but do not ask for alms at dawn. The most impressive temples are located in the capita, Vientiane.

Activities

The primary religion is Hinayana Buddhism which has been discouraged by the Communists.

Ethnicity

The ethnicity is primarily Lao.








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Created: 5:07 AM 6/11/2012
Last updated: 6:52 AM 11/20/2016