Laos profile

1893 - Laos becomes a French protectorate until 1945, when it is briefly occupied by the Japanese towards the end of World War II.

North Vietnamese troops fighting South Vietnamese troops on Laotian territory as the conflict spilled over in the 1960s North Vietnamese troops and their South Vietnamese opponents fought on Laotian territory as the conflict spilled over in the 1960s

1946 - French rule over Laos is resumed.

1950 - Laos is granted semi-autonomy as an associated state within the French Union.

1954 - Laos gains full independence as a constitutional monarchy. Civil war breaks out between royalists and the communist group, the Pathet Lao.

1960s - Laos subject to extensive aerial bombardment by the United States in an attempt to destroy North Vietnamese sanctuaries and to rupture the supply lines known as the Ho Chi Minh trail. It's estimated that more bombs were dropped on Laos than were used during the whole of World War II.

1973 - Vientiane ceasefire agreement divides Laos between the communists and the royalists.

Communist take-over

1975 - The Pathet Lao - renamed the Lao People's Front - seizes power. King Savang Vatthana abdicates - he is later arrested and dies in captivity. The Lao People's Democratic Republic is proclaimed, with the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) the only legal political party. Kaysone Phomvihane becomes prime minister. "Socialist transformation" of the economy is launched.

National symbol

Motorcycle riders in front of the That Luang stupa in Vientiane

Motorcycle riders pass by the That Luang religious landmark in Vientiane

  • Originally built in the 16th century
  • The present edifice dates from the 1930s

1979 - Food shortages and the flight of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Thailand leads the government to modify its approach. Some private enterprise within agriculture is permitted.

1986 - Encouraged by the Gorbachev reforms in the Soviet Union, Laos introduces market-oriented reforms.

1989 - First elections held since 1975. All candidates have to be approved by the LPRP. Communists retain power.

1991 - Security and cooperation pact signed with Thailand. A new constitution is endorsed. Kaysone Phomvihane becomes president, Khamtay Siphandon becomes prime minister.

1992 - President Phomvihane dies. Siphandon becomes head of the LPRP.

1994 - "Friendship bridge" over the Mekong linking Laos and Thailand is opened.

1995 - US lifts its 20-year aid embargo.

1997 - Laos becomes a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). The Asian financial crisis decimates the value of the Lao currency, the kip.

1998 - Khamtay Siphandon becomes president.

Bomb blasts

2000 - A series of bomb blasts hits the capital - the authorities blame anti-government groups based abroad. Celebrations of 25 years of communist rule take place in Vientiane in December.

2000 - Government embarks on decentralization process, granting more autonomy and budgetary responsibilities to provinces.

2001 March - Khamtay Siphandon re-elected president.

2001 April - International Monetary Fund approves a new three-year loan for Laos worth $40 million. IMF officials expect the loan to help strengthen macroeconomic stability and reduce poverty "through growth with equity".

2001 April - Parliament introduces death sentence for possession of more than 500g of heroin.

2001 December - UN World Food Programme (WFP) launches three-year initative to feed 70,000 malnourished children in Laos.

Mekong River

Mekong river boat in northern Laos, near the Thai border

Mekong irrigates fields, provides fish and transport

  • At 4,200 km (2,600 miles), world's 12th longest river
  • Forms boundary between Laos and Burma, and part of Laos-Thailand border
  • Chinese dam-building upstream has led to falls in water level

2002 February - Parliamentary elections. All but one of the 166 candidates are from the governing Lao People's Revolutionary Party.

2003 June - Two European journalists and their American translator arrested after making contact with Hmong ethnic group. Pair found guilty of obstructing security forces and briefly jailed.

US-based Lao exile group, the Fact Finding Commission, says the Lao Citizens Movement for Democracy (LCMD) has started a revolution in 11 provinces. The government dismisses the claim.

The LCMD says it has killed three soldiers in clashes. The government denies the claim.

2004 November - As chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), Laos hosts the organisation's summit.

2005 February - US establishes Normal Trade Relations, ending protracted period of punitive import taxes.

2005 April - World Bank approves loans for Nam Theun Two hydroelectric dam project. Dam is expected to produce electricity for export; critics are concerned about its environmental, social impact.

Banners marking the eighth national congress of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party adorn Vientiane's main boulevard The ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party has conducted cautious economic reform, but maintains a tight grip on politics

2005 November - Foundation stone of Nam Theun Two hydroelectric dam is laid.

2006 June - Choummaly Sayasone succeeds Khamtay Siphandone as president. The former vice president became leader of the ruling communists in March.

2006 December - More than 400 members of the Hmong ethnic group surrender to the authorities. They are among several groups of Hmong who have been living in the jungle as fugitives since 1975, when the pro-US government they supported was defeated by the communists.

2007 June - US prosecutors charge nine people with plotting a coup in Laos, including former general Vang Pao, a prominent member of the ethnic Hmong group who emigrated to the US in the 1970s.

2007 July - California court order the release on bail of former general Vang Pao, accused of plotting the overthrow of Laos' communist government.

WTO membership

2008 January - Laos takes steps to become full member of the World Trade Organization.

Hmong refugees

An Ethnic Hmong refugee sits inside a police truck during the operation to deport Hmong from Thailand

The UN voiced concern about the fate of Hmong repatriated from Thailand

2008 May - Some 69% of children in Laos lack basic health care, Save the Children charity reports.

2009 March - Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn opens a rail connection over the Mekong river, linking Thailand and Laos.

2009 December - Thailand forcibly repatriates more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong asylum seekers back to Laos.

2010 December - PM Bouasone Bouphavanh resigns, citing "family problems", and is replaced by National Assembly president Thongsing Thammavong. Analysts say factional disputes within the ruling party are the likely reason.

2011 January - New stock market opens in Vientiane as part of tentative experiment with capitalism.

Former Laos royal general and leader of Hmong ethnic group Vang Pao dies in exile in US, aged 81.

2011 June - President Choummaly is given a further five-year term by parliament.

2012 July - Hillary Clinton becomes the first US secretary of state to visit Laos for 57 years. The legacy of the Vietnam War and a controversial dam project are on her agenda.

2012 November - Laos approves plans to build a massive dam at Xayaburi, on the lower Mekong river, despite opposition from environmentalists and neighbours Cambodia and Vietnam.

2013 August - European parliamentarians draw attention to the disappearance of activist Sombath Somphone, last seen at a police checkpoint.

2014 May - Severeal senior officials are killed in a plane crash in northern Laos, including Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Douangchay Phichit, Security Minister Thongbanh Sengaphone and Vientiane Mayor Soukanh Mahalath.

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