This edition of Laos: A Country Study replaces the previous edition, published in 1971, prior to the establishment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, which came into being in December 1975. Like its predecessor, this study attempts to review the history and treat in a concise manner the dominant social, political, economic, and military aspects of contemporary Laos.
Sources of information included books, scholarly journals, foreign and domestic newspapers, official reports of governments and international organizations, and numerous periodicals on Asian affairs. A word of caution is necessary, however. The government of a closed communist society such as Laos controls information for internal and external consumption, limiting both the scope of coverage and its dissemination. And data from and on Laos are, on the whole, limited, and often contradictory.
A word must also be offered on the use of the terms Lao and Laotian. The term Lao refers to people who are ethnic Lao; it is not used to refer to those living in Laos who are members of other ethnic groups, for example, Vietnamese, Chinese, or Hmong. The term Laotian is used to refer to all the people living in Laos, regardless of ethnic identity.
Spellings of place-names used in the book are in most cases those approved by the United States Board of Geographic Names. However, as internal divisions have been drawn and redrawn, place-names within Laos have also changed. Insofar as possible, the present volume reflects these changes.
The body of the text reflects information available as of July 1, 1994. Certain other portions of the text, however, have been updated. The Bibliography lists published sources thought to be particularly helpful to the reader.
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