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)


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.


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












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