King Fa Ngum founded the first Lao kingdom, Lane Xang in the 14th century after he conquered and unified the lands of Luang Prabang, Xien Khouang and the Khorat Plateau stretching into what is today North East of Thailand. Luang Prabang remained the capital of Lane Xang until King Phothisarat moved the Kingdom’s administrative seat to Vientiane in 1545. Even after the capital moved to Vientiane, Luang Prabang remained the country’s spiritual and religious centre. The country’s first contact with western emissaries occurred in the mid 17th century during the reign of King Surigna Vongsa. After the death of Surigna Vongsa in 1694, Lane Xang broke up into three separate Kingdoms: Vientiane, Champasak and Luang Prabang.

In 1893, French Indochina integrated Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam until independence in 1953 when the current borders were defined. The revolutionary movement “Pathet Lao” gave birth to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on 2 December 1975.  In 1986, the government adopted the “New Economic Mechanism” to open the country to foreigners and a market economy.

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