It's hard to be precise about the origins of this little country. It was invaded several times, became a French protectorate and, from independence onwards, witnessed revolutions and war.
The earliest inhabitants of Laos lived there over 10,000 years ago. They may well have been the forefathers of all Pacific peoples. Later on Laos was populated by the Khmers and the Thai. Also known as the 'Kingdom of a Million Elephants', Laos witnessed a multitude of conflicts between these two clans. Over time the Chinese, Siamese, Vietnamese and Cambodians began to settle in the country. Numerous wars saw regions in Laos burnt to the ground and left the country swimming in blood. Temples were destroyed and sacred Buddhas smashed to pieces. In 1893, rather than submit to Siamese rule, the king of Luang Prabang appealed to France for help. The French reaped the benefits of reconstructing Vientiane but did not help with any future development in the country. It was with Thailand and Japan's help that in 1945, Laos gained its independence.
The Lao People's Liberation Army took control of several provinces. But unifying the country proved impossible and the government, despite support from the US, couldn't hold off the Kong Coup d'Etat in 1960. Communism grew in power, displeasing the US government who replied by bombing the northern and eastern parts of the country. The 1973 ceasefire allowed the communists to take charge and dominate most of the country. Political opponents were obliged to flee the country. Two years later and the communist Lao People's Revolutionary Army found itself completely unopposed. Suffice to say that repression was in full force at the time. Since 1980, things have got a little easier. Even though the country has stable diplomatic relations with its neighbours, internal opposition remains banned and only the communist party is recognised in Laos.