Vientiane has been the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic since 1975 and the country’s economic, political and cultural center. Officially, the city has about 350,000 inhabitants. Vientiane extends in the midst of a lush landscape over several kilometers on the banks of the Mekong, which forms the border with Thailand.
Founded in the 13th century as a city in the kingdom Lan Xang, Vientiane developed steadily next to the actual capital Luang Prabang. In 1563 Vientiane finally became the new capital. After the collapse of the empire Lan Xang the kingdom Vientiane as a vassal state was part of the resurgent Siamese power area. After the defeat of King Anuvong in 1826, much of the population of today’s central Laos was taken to the other side of the Mekong, whose descendants today form the ethnic group of Lao Wiang in Thailand.
By ceding Siam Vientiane 1887 French protectorate and a part of French Indochina. However, it hardly developed as the French concentrated their interests in Vietnam. In 1940, after Germany had defeated France militarily in World War II, the Japanese took control of Vientiane and Laos, but officially left the French colonial administration in office.