An Investigation Into Reasons For Relative Lack

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An Investigation Into Reasons For Relative Lack Of Development Laos Essay, Research Paper AN INVESTIGATION INTO REASONS FOR RELATIVE LACK OF DEVELOPMENT: LAOS In South East Asia, in the centre of the Southeast Asian peninsula, lies the land-locked country Laos. The country that is now the Lao People s Democratic Republic (LPDR, or Laos) has a slightly greater land area than Uganda and is bordered by several countries. On the north lies China, on the north-east Vietnam, on the south it is bordered by Cambodia, on the west by Thailand, and on the north-west by Burma. These neighbours have, to varying degrees, influenced Laotian historical, cultural, and political development. The recorded history of Laos began in the fourteenth century with Fa Ngum (reigned 1353-73), the first

king of Lan Xang. Prior to this, Laos was inhabited by Mongols. Under Fa Ngum, the territory of Lan Xang was extended and it remained in these approximate borders for another 300 years. In the 1690 s conflicts arose with Burma, Siam (Thailand), Vietnam, and the Khmer kingdom, and they continued in the eighteenth century ending in Siamese domination. Early in the nineteenth century, Siam held authority over much of the territory of contemporary Laos, which then consisted of the principalities of Louang Phrabang, Vientiane, and Champasak. Siam at the time sought to extend its influence in Indochina since it faced conflicts with France, which then had established a protectorate over Vietnam. By the end of the nineteenth century, France had replaced Siam as the dominant power on the

South East Asian peninsula. In 1890, Laos was integrated into the French colonial empire of Indochina as a group of directly ruled provinces, except for Louang Phrabang, which was ruled as a protectorate. The French ruled indirectly through the king of Louang Phrabang and a hierarchy of royal officials, although the French resident supervisor always had the final word. The French in 1946 signed an agreement with the king of Louang Phrabang that established him as king of a unified Laos within the French Union. The French granted internal rule over a united Laos in 1949 and most of the nationalist leaders, who had fled at the time of the French reoccupation, returned to the country. However, Laos remained part of the French union. In 1954, independence was recognised by the Geneva

Conference. In the following years the Pathet Lao, a group of pro-Communist nationalists that was aided by North Vietnam, gained strength as a rival to the Royal Lao Government (RLG). Coalition governments in 1957 and 1962 lasted only a very short time, and fighting intensified between the two sides. Meanwhile Laos became increasingly involved in the conflict between the United States and Communist forces (Vietminh) in Vietnam. In 1964, the United States began bombing Laos with the aim of stopping the flow of troops and supplies along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which ran from North Vietnam through Laos to South Vietnam. The bombing continued for several years and caused immense damage. In 1973 a cease-fire was finally arranged in Laos and the following year a coalition government was

formed. In 1975, after the Communist victories in Vietnam and Cambodia, the Pathet Lao took control of government and in December the Lao People s Democratic Republic was declared. After that the American aid was withdrawn, Laos formed special relationships with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Vietnam, which stationed many thousands of troops and advisers in the country. But by 1986 the state of the economy was so poor that the government introduced major reforms, including making the majority of public enterprises independent of state control. One of the government s aims was to decrease dependence on Vietnam, and in more recent years it has also established better relations with neighbouring Thailand, as well as other countries such as the United States,