Portal:Laos

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Introduction

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Laos (Lao: ລາວ; /ˈlɑːs/ (About this sound listen), /ls, ˈlɑːɒs, ˈlɒs/; Lao: ລາວ, Lāo [láːw]), officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ, translit. Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao; French: République démocratique populaire lao), commonly referred to by its colloquial name of Muang Lao (Lao: ເມືອງລາວ, Muang Lao), is a socialist state and the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia at the heart of the Indochinese peninsula, bordered by Myanmar (Burma) and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the southwest, and Thailand to the west and southwest.

Present-day Laos traces its historic and cultural identity to the kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao (Kingdom of a Million Elephants Under the White Parasol), which existed for four centuries as one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. Due to Lan Xang's central geographical location in Southeast Asia, the kingdom became a popular hub for overland trade, becoming wealthy economically as well as culturally. After a period of internal conflict, Lan Xang broke off into three separate kingdoms—Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three territories uniting to form what is now known as the country of Laos. It briefly gained freedom in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but was recolonised by France until it won autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ended the monarchy, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975. During the first years of Communist rule, Laos was dependent on military and economic aid supported by the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.

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Lao Script Sample.svg

The Lao alphabet (Lao: ອັກສອນລາວ [ʔáksɔ̌ːn láːw]) is the primary script used to write the Lao language and other minority languages in Laos. It was also used to write the Isan language, but was replaced by the Thai script. It has 27 consonants (ພະຍັນຊະນະ [pʰāɲánsānā]), 7 consonantal ligatures (ພະຍັນຊະນະປະສົມ [pʰāɲánsānā pá sǒm]), 33 vowels (ສະຫລະ [sálā]), and 4 tone marks (ວັນນະຍຸດ [ván nā ɲūt]).

The Lao alphabet was adapted from the Khmer script, which itself was derived from the Pallava script, a variant of the Grantha alphabet descended from the Brahmi script, which was used in southern India and South East Asia during the 5th and 6th centuries AD. Akson Lao is a sister system to the Thai script, with which it shares many similarities and roots. However, Lao has fewer characters and is formed in a more curvilinear fashion than Thai.

Lao is written from left to right. Vowels can be written above, below, in front of, or behind consonants, with some vowel combinations written before, over and after. Spaces for separating words and punctuation were traditionally not used, but a space is used and functions in place of a comma or period. The letters have no majuscule or minuscule (upper- and lowercase) differentiation.

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Prince Souvanna Phouma

Prince Souvanna Phouma (7 October 1901 – 10 January 1984) was the leader of the neutralist faction and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Laos several times from 1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960 and 1962–1975.

He was the son of Bounkhong, the last vice-king of Luang Prabang and a nephew of King Sisavang Vong of Laos, given a French education in Hanoi, Paris and Grenoble, where he obtained his degree in architecture and engineering.

In 1951, Souvanna became Prime Minister of Laos under the National Progressive Party banner with a landslide victory, winning 15 of the 39 seats in the National Assembly. He was prime minister until 1954. After elections in December 1955, Souvanna Phouma returned to the prime ministership on a platform of national reconciliation. In June 1958 Souvanna was again forced to resign by the rightists. The king accepted the vote as legal the next day when he signed Royal Ordinance No. 282, dismissing Souvanna Phouma's government and giving powers provisionally to the Revolutionary Committee. Royal Ordinance No. 283, approved a provisional government formed by Prince Boun Oum, who acted as front man for Phoui Sananikone. He was one of the Three Princes, whom Sisavang Vatthana appointed to form a coalition government between the rightists and Pathet Lao but it collapsed, and the Laotian Civil War began.

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