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Lao People's Democratic Republic History Timeline

800s - 1800s
  • (800 - 1324) Khmer Empire ruled present-day Laos and Cambodia
  • (1353) Luang Prabang, the royal capital and a center for Buddhism and arts was founded,
  • (1400s) Khmer Empire declined due to invasions from Thailand
  • (1700s) Thailand established control over much of Laos, divided region into three states, Luang Prabang in the north, Vientiane in the center, Champassak in the south
  • (1828) Vientiane Lao rebelled, were defeated and area was incorporated into Siam
  • (1893) France absorbed territories east of Mekong River into French Indochina via treaty with Thailand
1900s
  • (1904) Franco-Siam treaty allowed France to annex territories east and west of Mekong River
  • (1907) Franco-Siam treaty was completed, France gained territorial control
  • (1941) Japan invaded Laos
  • (1945) French rule over Laos reestablished
  • (1950) Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos became independent states in French Union
  • (1951) Prince Souvanna Phouma became prime minister
  • (1953) Viet Minh invaded Laos
  • (1953) Northern Laos evacuated by French troops
  • (1954) Laos gained full independence as a constitutional monarchy
  • (1954) Civil war began between royalists and Pathet Lao Communist group
  • (1954) SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) was created to stop the spread of Communism in southeast Asia
  • (1954) Prime Minister Souvanna resigned, formed government with Pathet Lao Communist group
  • (1960) U.S. conducted extensive aerial bombardment of Laos trying to destroy North Vietnamese sanctuaries and supply mines on Ho Chi Minh Trail
  • (1960) Government of Laos fled to Cambodia as capital city of Vientiane was at war
  • (1960) Rightest government established under Prince Boun Oum
  • (1961) U.S. increased military aid, technicians' support
  • (1961 - 1973) U.S.' CIA backed secret army in Laos to help fight Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese; over 50,000 Hmong civilians died
  • (1962) U.S. Marines arrived in Laos
  • (1962) Geneva Conference forbade U.S. to invade eastern Laos
  • (1964 - 1973) U.S. warplanes dropped estimated 2.3 million tons of bombs during 580,000 bombing missions over Laos
  • (1971) North Vietnamese troops captured Plain of Jars
  • (1973) Cease fire agreement in Vientiane divided Laos between communists and royalists
  • (1974) American forces left Laos
  • (1975) Communists took control of administration of Vientiane City
  • (1975) King Savang Vatthana of Laos abdicated throne, the Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) was established as the only political party
  • (1975) Kaysone Phomvihane became prime minister
  • (1975) Over a third of the Hmong population left Laos
  • (1975) "Socialist Transformation" of economy launched
  • (1979) Government forced to change approach as food shortages caused hundreds of thousands to flee to Thailand
  • (1979) Agricultural private enterprise was permitted
  • (1986) Market-oriented reforms were introduced
  • (1989) First elections held since 1975, Communists retained power
  • (1989) Laos opened to foreign tourism for first time since 1975
  • (1991) Thailand and Laos signed security and cooperation pact
  • (1991) New constitution endorsed
  • (1991) Kaysone Promvihane became president, Khamtay Siphandon became prime minister
  • (1992) President Phomvihane died, Prime Minister Siphandon became head
  • (1992) U.S. restored diplomatic ties with Laos
  • (1994) Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River linked Thailand and Laos
  • (1994) Laos and Vietnam signed bilateral Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation
  • (1995) Mekong River Commission created with Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand as the members
  • (1995) U.S. lifted 20-year aid embargo
  • (1997) Laos joined Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
  • (1997) Financial crisis in Asia decimated value of Lao kip currency, plunged to half its prior value
  • (1998) Khamtay Siphandon became president
2000s
  • (2000) Bomb attacks hit capital
  • (2000) Government began decentralizing; more autonomy, budgetary responsibility given to provinces
  • (2001) Khamtay Siphandon reelected president
  • (2001) Finance Minister, Bounnyang Vorachit, named prime minister
  • (2001) International Monetary Fund approved loan for $40 million to help strengthen economic stability, reduce poverty
  • (2001) World Food Programme (WFP) began three-year program to feed about 70,000 malnourished children in Laos
  • (2002) Majority of candidates elected in parliamentary elections were from Lao People's Revolutionary Party
  • (2003) Fact Finding Commission stated Lao Citizens Movement for Democracy (LCMD) started revolutions in 11 provinces; government dismissed claim
  • (2003) LCMD killed three soldiers during clashes, government denied claim
  • (2004) Association of South East Asian Nations held in Laos
  • (2005) U.S. established Normal Trade Relations
  • (2005) World Bank approved financing support for the $1.2 billion Nam Theun Two Dam
  • (2006) Choummaly Sayasone elected president
  • (2006) H5N1 strain of bird flu killed more than 2,000 on poultry farm
  • (2006) Over 400 members of Hmong ethnic group emerged from jungle hideouts, surrendered to authorities
  • (2007) Nine people were charged with plotting a coup in Laos who had emigrated to the U.S. by U.S. prosecutors
  • (2007) Transparency International ranked Laos as one of the most corrupt countries in the world
  • (2008) Laos took steps to join World Trade Organization as full member
  • (2009) Rail connection opened over Mekong River, connection Thailand and Laos
  • (2009) Thailand sent over 4,000 ethnic Hmong asylum seekers back to Laos
  • (2010) Severe drought caused Mekong River to drop to lowest level in 20 years, halted cargo traffic and boat tours
  • (2010) Prime Minister Bouphavanh resigned due to "family problems", Thongsing Thammavong, National Assembly President, appointed prime minister
  • (2011) Laos opened its first stock exchange
  • (2011) Parliament gave President Choummaly an additional five-year term
  • (2012) Laos won approval to join World Trade Organization
  • (2012) Plans approved for construction of massive dam at Xayaburi on lower Mekong River
  • (2013) Flash floods and heavy monsoon rains killed at least 20, washed away roads, damaged crops

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This page was last modified on April 7, 2017.