Return to home Lan Xang, the Land of a Million Elephants,
was the old name of Laos. The capital is Vientiane.
(SFC,12/27/97, p.A15)(SFEC, 3/29/98, p.T4) 500BC-800CE
The bulk of the material at the Plain of Jars in northern Laos dated
to this period. Jars up to 9 feet tall were later found to contain
tools and human remains.
(AM, 7/05, p.31)
c0AD Stone jars at the Plain of
Jars that measured on average 10-feet high and 9-feet wide are
believed to be 2,000 years old and to have been used for burials.
Only 300 jars are intact due to the bombing during the 1960s Vietnam
(AM, Mar/Apr 97 p.E)
200-300AD Evidence has indicated the presence of a
Hindu Shrine at Wat Phu with prehistoric levels below.
(AM, Mar/Apr 97 p.F)
500-600AD A local legend describes a military
celebration for which the stone jars of the Plain of Jars were
created to ferment and store alcohol.
(AM, Mar/Apr 97 p.E)
c800-1200 Wat Phu (mountain temple) in southern
Laos was a religious complex dedicated to Siva and patronized by the
Khmer of Cambodia.
(AM, Mar/Apr 97 p.A)
889-1324 The Khmer Empire‘s dominions roughly
correspond to present-day Laos and Cambodia and reached its height
during the Angkor period (889-1434 AD). The kingdom flourished from
the 6th to 15th centuries AD and then declined with invasions from
1000-1100 Wat Phu was last renovated by King
(AM, Mar/Apr 97 p.F)
1353 King Fangum is
believed to have established the Kingdom of Lan Xang (Million
Elephants), the forerunner of the modern Laos state that was
abolished during the communist revolution of 1975.
1353 Luang Prabang was founded.
It was the royal capital of the kingdom of Laos and a center of
Laotian Buddhism and court arts.
(AM, Mar/Apr 97 p.E)
1641 Gerritt van Wuysthoff, a
Dutchman, struggled up the Mekong River through Cambodia and reached
(Econ, 1/3/04, p.29)
1828 Siamese [Thailand] forces
invaded Laos. Vat Sisaket, a temple in Vientiane, survived the
(SFEC, 8/28/98, p.T4)
1893 French colonialists seized
control of Laos and tried to turn the Mekong River into a
thoroughfare linking their Indochina colonies.
(Econ, 1/3/04, p.29)
1920s Music played on the khaen, a giant mouth
organ containing 16 reed pipes was recorded. It is part of the
assembled music of the CD series "The Secret Museum of Mankind -
Ethnic Music Classics: 1925-1948," by Pat Conte on the Yazoo label.
(NH, 6/97, p.66)
1941 Aug, The US placed an
embargo on oil shipments to Japan in response to Japan’s occupation
of French Indochina (later Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam).
(Econ, 12/6/14, p.24)
1945 At the end of World War II
Thailand was compelled to return territory it had seized from Laos,
Cambodia and Malaya. The exiled King Ananda returned.
1950 Dec 30, Vietnam, Laos and
Cambodia became independent states in a French Union.
1953 Apr 28, French troops
evacuated northern Laos.
1953 Oct 22, Laos gained full
independence from France. [see Oct 23]
1953 Oct 23, France granted
sovereignty to Laos. [see Oct 22]
1954 Sep 8, SEATO (Southeast
Asia Treaty Organization), a sister organization to NATO, was
created under the Manila Pact by the Southeast Asia Collective
Defense Treaty, to stop communist spread in Southeast Asia (Vietnam,
Cambodia and Laos). The United States, Australia, France, Great
Britain, New Zealand, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Thailand signed
the mutual defense treaty. SEATO dissolved in 1977.
1957 May 29, Laos Government of
prince Suvanna Phuma resigned.
1957 Aug 25, Prince Suvanna
Phuma formed a government in LAOS with the Pathet Lao.
1960 Dec 9, The Laos government
fled to Cambodia as the capital city of Vientiane was engulfed in
1960 Dec 18, A rightist
government was installed under Prince Boun Oum in Laos as U.S.
resumed arms shipments.
1961 Mar 17, The U.S. increased
military aid and technicians to Laos.
1961 Mar 26, John F. Kennedy
met with British Premier Macmillan, in Washington to discuss
increased Communist involvement in Laos.
1961 The US CIA began enlisting
mountain tribes as guerrillas during the Vietnam War.
1961-1973 The CIA backed a secret army in Laos to
help fight the communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese. An
estimated 50,000 Hmong civilians died over this period. CIA director
William Colby acknowledged the US and Hmong alliance in 1994.
(SFC, 6/14/04, p.A1)
1962 Jan 12, The United States
resumed aid to the Laotian regime.
1962 May 6, Pathet Lao broke
cease fire and conquered Nam Tha Laos.
1962 May 15, US marines
"arrived" in Laos.
1962 Jul 23, The Geneva
Conference on Laos forbade the United States to invade eastern Laos,
site of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
1963-1974 Dr. Charles Weldon served in Laos as the
chief medical officer for USAID. In 1999 Weldon authored "Tragedy in
Paradise: A Country doctor at War in Laos."
(SFC, 11/30/02, p.A23)
1964 Apr 19, There was a
rightist coup in Laos. Suvanna Phuma remained premier.
1964-1973 US warplanes carried out 580,000 bombing
missions over Laos and dropped an estimated 2.3 million tons of
bombs. In the years that followed over 200 people per year died from
bombs that had initially failed to explode. In 2001 filmmaker Jack
Silverman produced "Bombies," a documentary on the effect of cluster
bombs on civilians [see 1973-1997].
(SFEC,11/2/97, p.A22)(SSFC, 3/30/03, p.D1)(AM,
1965 Jan 13, Two US planes were
shot down in Laos while on a combat mission.
1965 May 11, The US 10th
fighter Bomber F105D was shot down at Xien Khouong, Laos.
(SSFC, 11/9/03, p.D6)
1965 Dec, A US C-123 aircraft,
the workhorses of the American herbicide campaign, crossed the Lao
border for the first time. Within a week, the first wave of B-52s
hit the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The details of these air operations in
Laos remained largely unknown until 1997.
1966 Feb 1, US pilot Dieter
Dengler (1939-2001) was shot down in his A-1 Skyraider over Laos. He
managed to organize 6 American and Thai prisoners and escaped his
captors in July. In 2007 a German documentary by Werner Herzog,
“Little Dieter Needs To Fly," was expanded into a full film. In 2010
Bruce Henderson authored “Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the
(SFC, 7/30/10, p.F2)
1967 Feb 23, American troops
began the largest offensive of the war, near the Cambodian border.
In order to deny the Vietcong cover, and allow men to see through
the dense vegetation, herbicides were dumped on the forests near the
South Vietnamese borders as well as Cambodia and Laos.
1968 Jan 13, The U.S. reported
shifting most air targets from North Vietnam to Laos.
1968 Mar 10-1968 Mar 11, The
ultra secret facility Lima Site 85 in Phou Phathi, Laos, was manned
by USAF personnel and 11 were KIA or MIA as it was overran. The
event has been characterized as the largest single day ground loss
for the USAF.
1968 King Savanna Vatthana
honored Dr. Charles Weldon (d.2002 at 82) for his work among the
Hmong people: "Chevalier in the Order of the Million Elephants and
the White parasol."
(SFC, 11/30/02, p.A23)
1970 Mar 8, The Nixon
administration disclosed the deaths of 27 Americans in Laos.
1970 Jul 24, Capt. Donald
Bloodworth and his pilot were lost on a night reconnaissance mission
in a F-4D fighter-bomber. Bloodworth’s remains were returned to the
US in 1998.
(SFEC, 2/1/98, p.A14)
1970 Sep 11, In Laos the US
Operation Tailwind began with the objectives of reconnaissance,
intelligence collection, and a diversion for a larger operation to
the north. In 1998 it was reported that the secret raid called
Operation Tailwind by a Special Forces unit called the Studies and
Observations Group (SOG) used the nerve gas sarin in Laos to kill
American armed service members who had defected. A report in 1998
allegedly confirmed that over 100 people were killed including up to
20 American military defectors. Adm. Thomas Moorer (1912-2004), the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time (1970-1974),
confirmed in 1998 that nerve gas was used. CNN and Time magazine
later recanted the story due to insufficient evidence.
p.A3)(WSJ, 6/26/98, p.W13)(SFC, 7/3/98, p.A1)(SFC, 2/7/04, p.A21)
1970 In Laos the introduction
of Soviet-made long-range 130mm artillery pieces onto the
battlefield allowed the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese to
neutralize to some extent the Royal Lao Army's advantage of air
1971 Feb 8, South Vietnamese
ground forces, backed by American air power, began Operation Lam Son
719, a 17,000 man incursion into Laos that ended three weeks later
in a disaster.
1971 Feb 10, Larry Burrows
(b.1926), English war photographer, was killed over Laos. Combat
photographers Henri Huet of AP, Kent Potter of UPI, Larry Burrows
(b.1926) of Life Magazine and Keisaburo Shimamato of Newsweek were
killed in a helicopter crash over Laos. In 2003 Richard Pyle and
Horst Faas authored "Lost Over Laos: A True Story of Tragedy,
Mystery and Friendship."
1971 Mar 18, U.S. helicopters
airlifted 1,000 South Vietnamese soldiers out of Laos.
1971 Mar 21, In Laos South
Vietnamese Marines at FSB Delta, south of Route 9, came under
intense ground and artillery attacks. During an attempted extraction
of the force, seven helicopters were shot down and another 50 were
damaged, ending the evacuation attempt.
1971 Dec 18, North Vietnamese
troops captured the Plain of Jars in Laos. Throughout the Vietnam
War, the Plain of Jars was a contested area between Lao tribesmen
and Vietnam's communist allies, the Pathet Lao. The area was long
controlled by the Pathet Lao and a continual effort had been made by
the secret CIA-directed force of some 30,000 indigenous tribesmen to
strengthen anti-communist strongholds there. The US committed
hundreds of millions of dollars to the war effort in Laos. Details
of this secret operation were not released until August 1971.
(WUD, 1994, p.
1972 Fred Branfman (1942-2014)
authored “Voices from the Plain of Jars" in which he exposed details
of America’s secret war in Laos going back to 1964.
(Econ, 10/18/14, p.94)
1973-1975 Alan Davidson served as the British
ambassador to Laos.
(WSJ, 11/12/99, p.W13)
1973-1997 Some 11,000 Laotians were killed or
wounded during this period by left over American bombs.
1974 Jun 3, The last Air
America aircraft crossed the border from Laos into Thailand.
American forces left Laos and abandoned some 36,000 Laotians hired
to battle North Vietnamese troops. The Hmong and Iu Mien were 2 hill
tribes hired by the Americans to break codes and rescue downed
pilots. Many of the soldiers fled to Thailand where they lived in
refugee camps. Some 35,000 Iu Mien later moved to the US.
(SFC,12/27/97, p.A15)(SFEC, 1/24/99,
1974 Sep 5, Charles Dean (23),
brother of 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean, was captured by
Pathet Lao. He was executed on or about December 14, 1974. In 2003
his remains were reported found along with Australian companion Neil
1975 Mar 27, In Laos Communist
Pathet Lao launched an attack against Hmong defenders.
1975 Aug 23, In Laos Communists
took over the administration of Vientiane city.
1975 Dec 3, King Savang
Vatthana of Laos abdicated his throne and the communist Lao People's
Democratic Republic (LPDR) was established. The Lao People’s
Revolutionary Party (LPRP) had seized power with backing from
1975 About a third of the Hmong
people fled Laos.
(SFC, 6/14/04, p.A8)
1975-1980 A third of the Hmong people were killed
during this period after the US withdrew from Laos.
(SFC, 6/9/96, DB p.2)
1975-1986 Souphanouvong (d.1995), a member of the
royal family, served as president.
(SFC, 11/10/00, p.D6)
1978 Jan 3, Vietnamese troops
were reported to be occupying 400 square miles in Cambodia. North
Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops were using Laos and Cambodia as staging
areas for attacks against allied forces.
1980 Mar 11, In Laos US Air
Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. "Dick" Etchberger (35) used an
M-16 and a radio to call in air strikes and single-handedly held off
the attackers until helicopters arrived at Lima site 85. After
climbing into the chopper behind the others, Etchberger was fatally
wounded when enemy fire struck the aircraft. The others in the
helicopter made it to safety. In 2010 President Barack Obama
posthumously recognized Etchberger for service "beyond the call of
duty" by giving him the nation's highest military award, the Medal
1982 Jan 24, A draft of Air
Force history reported that the U.S. secretly sprayed herbicides on
Laos during the Vietnam War.
1989 Laos opened to foreign
tourists for the first time since 1975.
(SFEC, 3/29/98, p.T4)
1992 The US restored diplomatic
ties with Laos.
1992 The Asian Development Bank
began building and improving transport and telecom links between
China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
(Econ, 11/8/03, p.42)
1992 The Greater Mekong
Subregion was created grouping 5 South-East Asian countries
(Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam) and 2 Chinese
1994 The lower Mekong River was
spanned for the first time with a bridge between Nong Khai, Thailand
and Vientiane, Laos.
(SFC, 5/14/97, p.A22)(Econ, 1/3/04, p.29)
1994 Laos signed a bilateral
Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with Vietnam.
1995 Apr 5, The Mekong
Agreement created the Mekong River Commission with Cambodia, Laos,
Thailand and Vietnam as members.
1996 Khamsay Souphanouvong was
dropped from the Communist Party’s 49-member central committee.
(SFC, 11/10/00, p.D6)
1996 The town of Luang Prabang
with its dozens of temples was declared a World Heritage Site.
(SFEC, 3/29/98, p.T5)
1997 Mar 10, The first Laos
Int’l. Juggling Festival was held in Vientiane before a crowd of
40,000 as part of the annual That Luang Festival.
(WSJ, 3/11/97, p.A20)
1997 May 31, The 7-member ASEAN
alliance, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, met in Kuala
Lumpur and agreed to allow Burma to become a member in July. Laos
and Cambodia were also admitted. The members were Thailand,
Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.
(SFEC, 6/1/97, p.D3)
1997 Jul 23, The ASEAN trade
bloc admitted Laos and Burma but barred Cambodia.
(SFC, 7/24/97, p.A12)
1997 Aug 12, It was reported
that Laos was promoting the development of the $1.44 billion Nam
Theun Two Dam. It would alter 2 major tributaries of the Mekong
River and flood an area the size of Singapore. The World Bank
contributed $130 million to the project, which was expected to begin
generating power in 2009. Environmentalists feared severe impact to
the Nakai Plateau and some 120,000 people downstream as one river
dries up and another swells.
(WSJ, 8/12/97, p.A1)(SFC, 12/17/07, p.A15)
1997 Dec 27, The kip plunged to
about half its value since July when the Thai baht was devalued.
1997 Per capita income was
(SFC, 6/27/00, p.A16)
1999 Apr 19, Michael Vang of
Fresno, Ca., and Houa Ly of Appleton, Wi., crossed the Mekong River
from Thailand to Laos and have not been seen since.
(SFC, 8/5/00, p.C1)
1999 The US estimated that Laos
cultivated 154 tons of opium poppy this year.
(SFC, 6/27/00, p.A16)
2000 Jan, Charlie Vang (45), a
Hmong of Minneapolis, disappeared after attempting to cross the
Mekong River into Laos.
(SFC, 8/5/00, p.C1)
2000 Mar 30, The Thankyou Very
Much restaurant was bombed in Vientiane and 13 people were injured.
(SFEC, 4/9/00, p.T15)
2000 Apr 4, It was reported
that the Hmong population in Minnesota reached an estimated 60,000,
the largest concentration of Hmong outside Southeast Asia.
(WSJ, 4/4/00, p.B1)
2000 Jul, Some 60 Laotians
launched an ill-fated attack at the Chong Mek border post and
hoisted the royal flag in hopes of a popular uprising.
(SFC, 12/27/00, p.C4)
2000 Nov 9, A homemade bomb
exploded in Vientiane and at least 3 people were injured. Recent
bombings and the defection of former finance minister Khamsay
Souphanouvong indicated cracks in the communist regime.
(SFC, 11/10/00, p.D6)
2001 Mar 27, Bounnyang
Vorachit, the finance minister, was named prime minister as part of
a Cabinet shuffle endorsed by parliament.
(SFC, 3/28/01, p.D4)
2002 Aug 30, Floodwaters along
the lower stretches of the Mekong have wreaked havoc in Laos,
Cambodia (18), Thailand (12) and Vietnam (25), claiming at least 55
lives and leaving thousands homeless across the region.
2003 Jan 5, The Laos
government declared this day a national holiday in honor of King
Fangum, "the father of Lao unity" and the 650th anniversary of the
founding of Lan Xang in1353.
2003 Feb 6, In northern Laos 10
people died in an attack on a main highway.
2003 Apr 20, In northern Laos
gunmen opened fire at a bus, killing at least 12 people and injuring
30 others, in an attack officials with the communist government
blamed on Hmong rebels.
2003 Jun 4, In Laos 2 European
journalists and an American were arrested on murder charges. Belgian
photojournalist Thierry Falise and French cameraman Vincent Reynaud
were arrested with an American of Hmong origin for allegedly helping
"bandits" kill a security official in the remote northeastern
village of Khai.
2003 Jun 7, In northern Laos
suspected insurgents ambushed a bus, killing six people and wounding
2003 Jun 30, A Laotian court
sentenced two European journalists and an American pastor to 15
years in jail for the slaying of a village security official. They
were released Jul 9.
(AP, 6/30/03)(AP, 7/9/03)
2003 Oct 16, Laos and Thailand
signed a pact aimed at stamping out border attacks by unknown
(ST, 10/17/03, p.A13)
2003 The Laotian government
promised the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) to
eliminate opium poppy cultivation by 2006.
(SFC, 6/27/00, p.A12)(Econ, 5/1/04, p.44)
2003 The Lao government signed
a 30-year agreement with a Hong Kong-registered company to set up a
1,640-hectare special economic zone built with expertise from China.
The population of the Golden City in Boten peaked at 10,000, but
dwindled to 2,000 in 2011 after China’s foreign ministry warned
citizens not to gamble there.
(Econ, 5/28/11, p.46)
2004 Jun 14, It was reported
that Hmong commanders in Laos acknowledged 21 rebel groups with
about 17,000 fighters and family members.
(SFC, 6/14/04, p.A8)
2004 Sep 16, It was reported
that mining companies had begun investing into gold and copper
operations along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
(WSJ, 9/16/04, p.C1)
2004 Nov 29, The annual ASEAN
summit opened in Vientiane, Laos.
(Econ, 11/27/04, p.43)(Econ, 12/4/04, p.42)
2004 Dec 3, US Pres. George W.
Bush signed a law extending normal trade relations to Laos.
2005 Mar 31, The World Bank
approved financing support for the controversial $1.2 billion Nam
Theun 2 dam in Laos.
(WSJ, 4/1/05, p.A8)
2005 Jun 4, In Laos after
decades on the run, 170 women, children and old men of the Hmong
ethnic minority, once part of a U.S.-backed secret army fighting
communists, emerged from their jungle hideouts to surrender to the
2005 Jun 18, The beheaded
bodies of a Laotian couple were found in southern Thailand over the
weekend and were believed to be the latest victims of Muslim
2005 Jul 5, Thousands of poor
ethnic Hmong refugees from Laos were living without shelter in
northern Thailand, forced from their homes under a Thai campaign to
pressure them to return to their native land. Landlords said the
government had set a July 4 deadline for them to evict the some
6,500 refugees from their bamboo shelters.
2005 Jul 29, The ASEAN summit
concluded in Vientiane, Laos. Australia agreed to sign a
non-aggression pact with the group in exchange for an invitation to
another summit, where ASEAN hopes to start work on an East Asian
(Econ, 7/30/05, p.39)
2005 Oct 28, It was reported
that the poppy crop in Laos has been reduced 73% over the last 5
years and that the number of opium addicts has shrunk from 63,000 in
1998 to 21,000. The UN drug office said yaaba, an amphetamine
produced in illegal factories in Burma, was becoming the drug of
choice for young people.
(SFC, 10/28/05, p.A11)
2006 Jan 18, An American couple
claiming to be of Lao royal descent were shot dead in northeastern
Thailand. Anouwong Sethathirath IV (49) and Oulayvanh Sethathirath
(38) were killed at a Buddhist monastery in Nong Khai. The next day
Thai police said they might have been targeted by Laos' government
on suspicions that they were working against the communist regime.
2006 Apr 6, An attack in Laos
killed 26 Hmong civilians, mainly unarmed women and children. In
June the US called on communist-ruled Laos to investigate the murder
of the Hmong civilians amid allegations that Lao military forces had
killed the group.
2006 Apr 30, Laotians voted for
a new parliament in a largely symbolic exercise since all the
candidates belonged to the communist party. But in an effort to
bring in fresh faces, only about a quarter were incumbents.
2006 Jul 28, The Laos
government and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said an
outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 2,000
chicken on a poultry farm. The Xaythani district farm found 155 dead
chickens on July 14, and about 2,000 dead birds the following day.
2006 Oct 10, Vietnam's
communist party chief Nong Duc Manh arrived in Laos at the start of
a four-day visit in a country where Vietnam still exerts
2006 Oct 14, Thailand's
military-installed premier Surayud Chulanont visited Vientiane on
the first stop of a weekend tour aimed at reassuring neighbors Laos
and Cambodia that Bangkok won't pull any more surprises.
2006 Nov 10, Asian nations
reached their first international agreement to implement what has
been dubbed the "Iron Silk Road." Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia,
China, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Laos, Russia, South Korea,
Turkey and seven other nations agreed to meet at least every two
years to identify vital rail routes, coordinate standards and
financing and plan upgrades and expansions, among other measures.
The UN first conceived the Trans-Asian Railway Network in 1960.
2006 Dec 13, In Laos more than
400 members of the Hmong hill tribe minority, on the run for decades
from the communist government, surrendered to the authorities there.
2006 Dec 13, Two
Laotian-American men were shot to death at a bus station in
northeastern Thailand after returning from a trip to Laos. Thai
police said they suspect a political connection to the killings.
2007 Mar 16, Laos confirmed its
second human death from bird flu, a woman who died earlier this
month, after results from a lab used by the World Health
2007 May 16, Japanese officials
said the landlocked nation of Laos has agreed to join the
International Whaling Commission at Japan's request and is highly
likely to support Tokyo's high-profile pro-whaling campaign.
2007 Jun 4, In California 9
Hmong leaders, Gen. Vang Pao, a former Laotian military general, and
Harrison Jack, a former officer in the California National Guard,
were arrested during a sweep by more than 200 federal, state and
local agents for their alleged plot, hatched last winter, to
overthrow the communist government of Laos. They were charged with
violating the US federal Neutrality Act. In 2009 federal prosecutors
in Sacramento, Ca., dismissed charges against Vang Pao.
(AP, 6/5/07)(SFC, 5/12/09, p.A5)(SFC, 9/19/09,
2007 Jun 9, The Philippines and
Laos, during a visit of Laotian PM Bouasone Bouphavanh, signed an
agreement hoping to boost the minuscule trade between them and
encourage their first investment links.
2007 Jun 9, Thailand deported
163 ethnic Hmong asylum-seekers to Laos who authorities said had
entered the country illegally in recent years trying to reach a
large refugee camp.
2007 Aug 6, PM Surayud
Chulanont said Thailand will return some 8,000 ethnic Hmong refugees
to Laos despite their claims that they face persecution in their
2007 Transparency Int’l. ranked
Laos, population around 6 million, as one of the most corrupt
countries in the world ranking it 168 out of 179 surveyed nations,
with No. 1 being the least corrupt.
(SFC, 12/17/07, p.A15)
2008 Aug, Samantha Orobator
(20), a British citizen, was arrested in Laos and charged with
trying to smuggle 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of heroin in her luggage.
In 2009 a government spokesman said she will not face the death
penalty because the law bans executing expectant convicts.
2009 Jun 3, A court in Laos
found Samantha Orobator (20), a pregnant British woman, guilty of
trafficking heroin and sentenced her to life in prison. Under a pact
signed last month by Laos and Britain that still needs ratification,
Orobator could be extradited to serve her time in Britain. On Aug 6
Orobator returned to Britain to serve the remainder of her sentence,
just weeks before she was due to give birth.
(AP, 6/3/09)(AP, 8/6/09)
2009 Jun 18, A study by an
environmental group said pollution in the Mekong River is putting
the rare Irrawaddy dolphin in danger of disappearing from Cambodia
2009 Sep 25, An environmental
group said a gecko with leopard-like spots on its body and a fanged
frog that eats birds are among 163 new species discovered last year
in the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia, which included Laos,
Thailand and Vietnam.
2009 Nov 6, Japan pledged $5.5
billion in aid over 3 years for Southeast Asia's 5 Mekong River
nations (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam), seeking to
deepen ties with the region amid growing influence from China.
2009 Dec 27, Human rights
groups warned that the Thai government's planned expulsion of 4,000
ethnic Hmong to Laos could turn violent.
2009 Dec 28, Thailand sent army
troops with shields and batons to evict more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong
asylum-seekers and send them back to Laos despite strong objections
from the US and rights groups who fear they will face persecution.
2010 Jan 1, A free-trade
agreement between China and the 10 members of the Association of
Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) came into effect. The 6 richest
members scrapped tariffs on 90% of goods. The 4 poorest (Vietnam,
Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar) will not need to cut tariffs to the same
level until 2015.
(SSFC, 1/3/10, p.A4)(Econ, 1/9/10, p.44)
2010 Mar 3, In Laos senior
officials from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam met in Luang
Prabang to discuss the Mekong River. The Mekong River Commission in
a draft report said severe drought has dropped the river to its
lowest level in nearly 20 years, halting some cargo traffic and boat
tours on the waterway, the lifeblood for 65 million people in six
2010 Mar 12, It was reported
that over 10% of the Buddha statues in Luang Prabang, Laos, had gone
missing. Authorities suspected theft rings had stolen some 120 for
(SFC, 3/12/10, p.A2)
2010 Mar 25, China agreed to
share water level data at 2 dams to ease pressure from nations
downstream, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
(SFC, 4/6/10, p.A3)
2010 Mar, The Laotian
government arrested an Uighur family: Memet Eli Rozi, his wife
Gulbahar Sadiq, and their five children. They were later deported
back to China.
2010 Nov 21, A global tiger
summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, approved a wide-ranging
program with the goal of doubling the world's tiger population in
the wild by 2022 backed by governments of the 13 countries that
still have tiger populations: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China,
India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam
and Russia. Experts said wild tigers could become extinct in 12
years if countries where they still roam fail to take quick action
to protect their habitats and step up the fight against poaching.
2010 Dec, Laos said China would
build a $7.2 billion high-speed railway from the border to its
capital, Vientiane. Construction was due to begin in April, 2011.
The 262-mile railway was expected to take fie years just to lay the
(Econ, 1/22/11, p.49)(Econ, 10/26/13, p.49)
2011 Jan 7, Former Laotian
general Vang Pao (81), died in a Californian hospital. He once
commanded a CIA-backed "secret army" of Hmong guerrillas during the
Vietnam War. He fled to the United States in 1975 after communists
ousted Laos' royal rulers, and was credited with helping negotiate
the resettlement in America of tens of thousands of fellow Hmong. In
2007 Vang Pao was arrested in California along with eight others on
conspiracy charges after authorities allegedly "interrupted a plot
to overthrow the government of Laos by force and violence" according
to the justice department. The charges were dropped in 2009.
2011 Jan 11, Laos opened its
first stock exchange.
(Econ, 1/15/11, p.46)
2011 Apr 19, Laos announced
that it would defer a decision on erecting the $3.5 billion Xayaburi
dam, the first dam on the lower Mekong River in the face of
opposition from neighboring countries. In Dec the Mekong River
Commission (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam) members called for
(SFC, 4/20/11, p.A2)(Econ, 1/7/12, p.34)
2011 Apr 30, Laos held
legislative elections that are expected to sweep in a younger
generation of lawmakers but preserve the political status quo. 190
candidates contested 132 seats in the National Assembly.
(AP, 4/30/11)(SSFC, 5/1/11, p.A6)
2011 Oct 31, China, Laos,
Myanmar and Thailand signed a regional security agreement pledging
to share intelligence and to engage in joint patrols along a stretch
of the Mekong between China and the Golden Triangle.
(Econ, 11/19/11, p.45)
2012 Mar 21, Laos said it is
ending gambling in the former casino enclave of Boten on the Chinese
border because of worries about crime. The decision will not affect
another casino in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone, which
is on the border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
2012 Mar 15, CH. Karchang, a
Thailand construction giant, officially began work on the $3.5
billion dam at Xayaburi in northern Laos. A December agreement by
the Mekong River Commission had called for further study on the
environmental impacts of the dam.
(Econ, 5/5/12, p.43)(Econ, 9/7/13, p.40)
2012 Aug, Laos won approval to
joing the World Trade Organization (WTO).
(Econ, 11/10/12, p.71)
2012 Dec 15, Laos social
activist Sombath Somphone (60) disappeared in Vientiane. A colleague
later said that police had taken Somphone into custody.
(SFC, 12/19/12, p.A3)(Econ, 7/23/16, p.32)
2013 May 9, Nine young
defectors from North Korea, ages 15-23, entered Laos through
China. The alleged orphans were caught by Laotian authorities on May
16 and soon returned to North Korea. On May 31 the UN human rights
chief criticized China and Laos for their actions.
(SFC, 6/1/13, p.A2)
2013 Aug 28, UN officials said
flash floods and heavy monsoon rains have battered Laos, killing at
least 20 people, washing away roads and damaging crops.
2013 Oct 16, A Lao Airlines
flight from Vientiane to Pakse in southern Laos crashed and killed
all 49 aboard.
(AP, 10/16/13)(AP, 10/17/13)
2013 A third of Laos was still
contaminated by unexploded American ordnance dating from the Vietnam
(Econ, 10/26/13, p.50)
2013 The American government
offered $1 million for information that would help dismantle a
wildlife trafficking network, which it believed was headed by Vixay
Keosavang, a former soldier in the Lao People’s Army. Keosavang
operated from a walled compound in the Laos province of Bolikhamxay.
(Econ, 4/16/15, p.49)
2014 May 17, In Laos a plane
carrying senior Lao government officials crashed in the Pek district
of Xiangkhoung province, killing the defense minister and at least
four other people.
2014 Jun 13, Thailand deported
Moua Toua Ter, a former ethnic Hmong resistance leader, to Laos
after being held in Bangkok since March last year. He had been
sheltering in Thailand for eight years while seeking resettlement in
a third country.
2014 Dec 20, State media
reported that China has offered more than $3 billion in loans and
aid to neighbors Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos to
improve infrastructure and production, and to fight poverty.
2015 Jul 27, In Laos a
Soviet-made Mi-7 Lao military helicopter missing with 23 people on
board. Search teams located the crash site on July 29.
2015 Nov 11, The Mekong-Lancang
Cooperation forum (China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and
Vietnam) was created by China to promote sustainable development and
boost the quality of life for the millions of people living in the
Mekong subregion. The forum was seen as a rival to the Mekong River
Commission, formed in 1995, but excludes China and Myanmar.
2015 Nov 22, In Malaysia ASEAN
nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) established a formal
community that attempts to create freer movement of trade and
capital in an area of 625 million people with a combined economic
output of $2.6 trillion.
2016 Jan 25, Laos PM Thongsing
Thammavong assured US Secretary of State John Kerry that this small
nation will help counter China's assertiveness in the South China
2016 Feb 27, Meeting in Laos
foreign ministers from the 10 countries of the Association of South
East Asian Nations (ASEAN) said that they were "seriously concerned"
by recent developments in the disputed South China Sea region and
will seek a meeting over the issue with China.
2016 Feb 29, In Laos unknown
suspects described as militants opened fire on a temporary work
space being used by a Chinese company in the northern province of
Luang Prabang. One Chinese citizen was killed and three injured in a
2016 Mar 4, The World Health
Organization said Laos has joined 41 countries in reporting a local
transmission of Zika virus, as fears mounted over the mosquito-borne
illness that has been linked to birth defects.
2016 Apr 20, Laos, one of the
world's last communist nations, elected its top government leaders
at a meeting of its newly seated National Assembly.
2016 May 4, China’s state media
said China and Laos have agreed to step up security cooperation
after attacks on Chinese nationals in the poor, landlocked Southeast
Asian nation in recent weeks, as Laos' new president visited
2016 May 13, Laos PM Thongloun
Sisoulith banned all timber exports in an effort to save the
country’s dwindling forests.
(Econ, 6/25/16, p.34)
2016 Sep 6, President Barack
Obama, in the first visit to Laos by a sitting US president, said
the US has a "moral obligation" to help Laos heal and vowed to
reinvigorate relations with a country with rising strategic
importance to the US. Obama announced he would double spending for
unexploded ordnance, committing $90 million over the three years.
2016 Sep 7, In Laos the ASEAN
summit issued a mild rebuke of China over its expansionist
activities in the disputed South China Sea, and indirectly urged it
to show restraint and not raise tensions.
2016 Sep 8, President Barack
Obama put the long-simmering dispute in the South China Sea front
and center on the agenda at the regional ASEAN summit, as it became
clear that most of the other leaders gathered in the Laotian capital
were going to let China off with a mild rebuke over its territorial
expansion in the resource-rich waters. Obama pledged more money to
Laos to remove unexploded American bombs.
(AP, 9/8/16)(Econ, 1/21/17, p.69)
2016 Sep 23, Conservation
groups said Laos has promised to phase out farms that breed
endangered tigers for their body parts, a positive step from a
country believed to be a major hub of wildlife trafficking in Asia.
Wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC said that endangered species
such as pangolins and helmeted hornbills were being openly sold in
Laos and that law enforcement against the illegal trade remained
(AP, 9/23/16)(AFP, 9/23/16)
2017 Aug 11, Cambodia's PM Hun
Sen issued a six-day ultimatum to Laos to pull back troops who have
allegedly trespassed into a border area or face a military response.
2017 Aug 12, Cambodian PM Hun
Sen, who threatened a day earlier to use force over a border crisis
with neighboring Laos, announced that the situation had been
peacefully resolved after he made a lightning trip for face-to-face
talks with his Laotian counterpart.
2017 Joshua Kurlantzick
authored “A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth
of a Military CIA.
(Econ, 1/21/17, p.69)
2018 Jan 10, Cambodian PM Hun
Sen and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang were joined by leaders from
Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar over development in the Mekong
subregion. The leaders agreed in a joint statement to enhance
connectivity between their countries to accelerate
industrialization, urbanization, trade and financial integration.
They also called for greater cooperation in managing and utilizing
2018 Jan 30, The US Treasury
Department slapped sanctions on a gambling empire hacked from the
Laotian jungle which it said was involved in drug, human and
wildlife trafficking and child prostitution.
2018 Mar 20, A Thai court
handed a life sentence to Laotian drug kingpin Xaysana Keopimpha,
who was notorious for a high-flying lifestyle and alleged social
connections to celebrities and other VIPs.
2018 Mar 31, In Vietnam the
leaders of six countries along the Mekong River adopted an ambitious
investment plan worth $66 billion over the next five years. The
summit included the prime ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and
Vietnam, as well as a vice president of Myanmar and the Chinese
2018 Jul 23, In southern Laos
hundreds of people went missing and several were feared dead after
the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam under construction in Attapeu
province collapsed, causing flash flooding that swept away homes. A
least 27 people were killed when part of a newly built South
Korean-built hydroelectric dam gave way. 131 people were listed as
(AP, 7/24/18)(AFP, 7/25/18)(AP, 7/25/18)(AP,
2019 Jan 9, Russia's Defense
Ministry says it has received 30 Soviet WW II-era T-34 battle tanks
from Laos, a move reflecting the national veneration of the weapon.
The ministry said more than 58,000 T-34s were built between 1940 and
1946, making it the world's most widely produced tank. The T-34 was
widely exported and used in numerous conflicts.
2019 Apr 8, Laos police
detained three American volunteers for Vision Beyond Borders, a
US-based Christian evangelical organization. The three carried
Gospel tracts and MP3 players with Scripture and other Christian
material to share with villagers in the northwestern province of
Luang Namtha. They were freed and deported into Thailand April 18.
(AP, 4/13/19)(AP, 4/18/19)
2019 Jun 20, Laos reported its
first cases of African swine fever (ASF), confirming outbreaks in
the southern province of Saravane.
2019 Aug 19, In Laos a tour bus
carrying dozens of chinese passengers crashed killing at least 13
(SFC, 8/21/19, p.A2)
2019 In Southeast Asia the
Mekong River fell to its lowest level since records began more than
60 years ago. A study in 2020 claimed that 11 dams built on the
Chinese portion of the river had exacerbated the water shortage
affecting Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Brian Eyler authored
"The Last Days of the Mighty Mekong."
2020 Feb 20, China said it was
helping its downstream neighbors cope with a prolonged drought by
releasing more water from its dams on the Mekong River, adding it
would consider sharing information on hydrology to provide further
assistance in the future. The drought over the past year has
severely hurt farming and fishing in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar,
Thailand and Vietnam.
2020 Sep 1, A power grid
shareholding deal was signed between Laos state-owned Electricite du
Laos (EdL) and China Southern Power Grid Co. China is Laos’s biggest
creditor, and the deal will bind the landlocked, mountainous country
of seven million people closer to its giant neighbor.
2021 Feb 8, Laos received
300,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Chinese
pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.
2021 Apr 22, Laos locked down
its capital Vientiane and closed international borders to most
traffic after identifying a COVID-19 cluster connected its neighbor
Thailand. 28 new cases were confirmed a day earlier bringing the
country's total to 88.
(SFC, 4/23/21, p.A8)