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French Indochina, landlocked country, Vientiane, Vietnam War, official language

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Laos, officially Lao People’s Democratic Republic, independent state of Southeast Asia. Formerly part of the Indochinese Union, also known as French Indochina, Laos gained independence in 1953. The country was drawn into the Vietnam War (1959-1975), and in 1975 a Communist revolutionary movement overthrew Laos’s six-century-old monarchy and established a people’s republic. Laos is a mountainous, landlocked country, bounded on the north by China, on the east by Vietnam, on the south by Cambodia, and on the west and northwest by Thailand and Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). It is rich in resources and has an ethnically varied population. The official language is Lao, and the capital and largest city is Vientiane (Viang Chan).


Art and architecture of Southeast Asia

Dumarcay, Jacques.Trans. Michael Smithies. The Palaces of South-East Asia: Architecture and Customs. Oxford University Press, 1991. Extensive history of the royal architecture of Southeast Asia.

Girard-Geslan, Maud, ed.Trans. J. A. Underwood. Art of Southeast Asia. Abrams, 1998. Scholarly essays cover all regions; copiously illustrated.

Jessup, Helen Ibbitson, and Thierry Zephir, eds. Millennium of Glory: Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia. Thames & Hudson, 1997. Lavishly illustrated catalog of major exhibition of ancient sculpture.

Lee, Sherman E. A History of Far Eastern Art. 5th ed. Abrams, 1994. Standard survey of Asian art.

Rawson, Philip. The Art of Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Java, Bali. Praeger, 1967. Thames & Hudson, 1990. Useful one-volume overview.

Strachan, Paul. Imperial Pagan: Art and Architecture of Burma. University of Hawaii, 1990. Scholarly study of Burmese Buddhist art forms.

Van Beek, Steve. The Arts of Thailand. Rev. ed. Thames & Hudson, 1991. Tuttle, 1999. Broad examination of Thai art and architecture.


Evans, Grant, ed. Laos: Culture and Society. Silkworm, 2000. Eleven articles covering various aspects of Laotian culture.

Hamilton-Merritt, Jane. Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos, 1942-1992. Indiana University Press, 1999. A study of U.S. relations with the Hmong.

Kremmer, Christopher. Stalking the Elephant Kings: In Search of Laos. University of Hawaii Press, 1998. The fate of Laos's royal family.

Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. Laos: A Country Study. 3rd ed. Federal Research Division, L.O.C., 1995. Basic introduction to the country's political, economic, and social structures.

Stuart-Fox, Martin. A History of Laos. Cambridge University Press, 1997. Detailed history since 1975, the beginning of Pathet Lao rule. Includes a chronology and maps.

Warner, Roger. Shooting at the Moon: The Story of America's Clandestine War in Laos. Steerforth, 1997. America's “secret” war in Laos during the years of the Vietnam War.


Stuart-Fox, Martin, B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D. Professor and Head, Department of History, University of Queensland. Author ofA History of Laos,The Lao Kingdom of Lan-Xang: Rise and Decline, and The Murderous Revolution: Life and Death in Pol Pot’s Kampuchea.

Rooney, Dawn F., Ph.D. Independent Researcher. Author of Angkor: An Introduction to the Temples,BeteI Chewing Traditions in South-East Asia, and Khmer Ceramics.

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Article key phrases:

French Indochina, landlocked country, Vientiane, Vietnam War, official language, Burma, largest city, Laos, Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, capital, people, Cambodia, independence, west, resources

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