Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Globe trotting: Laos 世界走透透 - 寮國

The Prabang statue is carried through the streets in front of the former royal palace in Luang Prabang, Laos on April 17 of this year. The statue is only brought out once each year to celebrate New Years in Laos.今年四月十七日寮國龍坡邦舊皇宮前,龍坡邦佛像被抬著繞街。這尊雕像每年只會出現在寮國的新年慶典中。 (照片:歐新社)

PHOTO: EPA

The history of Laos and the Lao people has been wrapped up in the history of neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam for a long time. However, Laos and its people have a culture, cuisine and tradition that is all their own. Read on to find what makes Laos stand out from its more talked-about neighbors.

寮國和寮族的歷史雖長久以來與鄰近的泰國和越南密不可分,卻也有自己的文化、飲食和傳統。往下讀,探索寮國如何從較多人討論的鄰國中脫穎而出。

A closer look 說古論今

The history of the Lao people, the main ethnic group of Laos, can be traced back to a kingdom founded in the 1300's, called Lan Xang, or “Land of 1,000 Elephants.” But scholars believe certain parts of Lao culture, like its musical traditions, have existed for thousands of years. In fact, the khene, a traditional mouth organ made of pipes of bamboo, is thought to be as old as the area's Bronze Age. It's an important part of the history of music, and may have influenced musical traditions in China and other parts of the world.

Six hundred years after the foundation of Lan Xan, the kingdom was taken over by the kingdom of Siam, the area known today as Thailand. Siam then gave the area to the French, who were trying to increase their power in the area and the wealth of France. This is not the only time Western politics has affected Laotian history. During the Vietnam War, important battles were fought in Laos by armies funded by North Vietnam and the US. They were a secret, because officially Laos was supposed to be neutral in the fighting.

Today, Laos is one of the only surviving communist states; the people of Laos can vote, but there is only one political party. The country is very poor, but it is growing and improving slowly, partly because of tourism to places like the country's two World Heritage Sites, Luang Prabang and Wat Phou, as well as the Plain of Jars.

About Laos 國家概況

Size: 236,800km2

Location: Southeast Asia

Border countries: Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Thailand, Vietnam

Capital: Vientiane

Population: 6,368,500

Language: Lao, French, English and other languages

Government: Communist State

Currency: NT$1 is worth a little more than 300 Laotian kip

面積:二十三萬六千八百平方公里

位置:東南亞

鄰國:緬甸、柬埔寨、中國、泰國、越南

首都:永珍

人口:六百三十六萬八千五百萬人

語言:寮語、法語、英語和其他語言

政體:共產主義國家

貨幣:新台幣一元約略大於三百基普


寮族(寮國主要族群)的歷史可回溯至西元十四世紀建國的「瀾滄王朝」或「萬象之國」時期,不過學者相信部份寮國歷史,如音樂傳統,早已存在數千年。事實上,笙這種竹管製成的傳統口琴,據信與青銅器時代同期,是音樂史上重要的一章,可能還影響了中國和世界其他地區的音樂傳統。

瀾滄王朝建國後六百年即被暹羅(今日泰國)統治。之後暹羅將此區交予法國統轄。當時的法國正企圖在此擴張勢力與增加國家財富。不過,西方政治不只一次地影響寮國歷史,越戰期間,北越和美國資助的軍隊在寮國進行重要戰役,這些戰役都是秘密進行,因寮國政府應在戰爭中採取中立立場。

今日的寮國是僅存的共產國家之一,寮國人民可以投票,不過寮國只有一個政黨。寮國雖然非常貧窮,但受惠於國內兩大世界歷史遺產景點─龍坡邦和暹粒遺址,以及石壺平原所帶來的部分觀光收益,經濟正緩慢地成長與改善中。

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