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Photographer's Note

Flying over the rice fields of Central Laos Province of Bolikhamxai...finally i can write RICE IS LIFE!
and enter in the Club!

*Scanned image*

Laos

Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang, founded in the 14th century, which lasted until the 18th century, when Siam assumed control of the separate principalities that remained. To avoid a costly war with the French, the Siamese king ceded lands now known as Laos to them, and these were incorporated into French Indochina in 1893. Following a brief Japanese occupation during World War II, the country declared its independence in 1945, but the French re-asserted their control and only in 1950 was Laos granted semi-autonomy as an "associated state" within the French Union. Moreover, the French remained in de facto control until 1954, when Laos gained full independence as a constitutional monarchy.

Political unrest in neighbouring Vietnam dragged Laos into the Second Indochina War (see also Secret War and Vietnam War), a destabilising factor that contributed to civil war and several coups d'état. The North Vietnamese Army invaded and occupied portions of eastern Laos. The North Vietnamese army, with its heavy weapons including heavy artillery and tanks was the real power behind the Pathet Lao insurgency. Significant aerial bombardment by the United States occurred by that country's attempt to eliminate North Vietnamese bases in Laos and disrupt supply lines on the Ho Chi Minh trail.

In 1968 the North Vietnamese Army launched a multi-division attack against the Royal Lao Army. The attack resulted in the army largely demobilizing and leaving the conflict to irregular forces raised by the United States and Thailand. In 1975 the communist Pathet Lao, backed by the Soviet Union and the North Vietnamese Army (justified by the Communist ideology of "proletarian internationalism"), overthrew the royalist government, forcing King Savang Vatthana to abdicate on December 2, 1975 (he later died in captivity). After taking control of the country, they renamed it the Lao People's Democratic Republic. The Pathet Lao government afterward signed agreements giving Vietnam the right to station military forces and to appoint advisors to assist in overseeing the country. Laos was ordered in the late 1970s by Vietnam to end relations with China which cut the country off from trade with any country but Vietnam [citation needed]. Control by Vietnam and socialisation were slowly replaced by a relaxation of economic restrictions in the 1980s and admission into ASEAN in 1997. Vietnam still wields political and economic influence in Laos.

The 20-year embargo by the United States was lifted in 1995, although Laos has still not achieved Most Favored Nation trading status Lack of this status is often considered to be the result of Hmong refugee activism in the United States which targets human rights violations by the Lao government.

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Additional Photos by Paolo Motta (Paolo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3739 W: 144 N: 8840] (41258)
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