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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 Peoples 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 1690s 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
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