Laos was once not as poor as it is now. The poverty came with the communism. Once, it was ruled by the French, who also ruled over Vietnam and Cambodia. When the french left, Laos was divided into 2 groups, Royal Lao & Pathet Lao. Its first two attempts at a government failed and then the third one worked. When the government was just starting to settle down, the Vietnam army came in to establish a supply chain network in the war. This meant that America started wreaking havoc on Laos – bombing it to smithereens, as it did Cambodia. They honestly didn’t get the best time of it.
The North Vietnam (communist) army marched into Laos almost right after the French evacuated and the Pathet Lao became communist. The Americans were scared that Communism would take over Southeast Asia, so they started to bomb Vietnam. They didn’t bomb China or Russia (where the communism began) because they didn’t have the resources and they didn’t want a full-blown nuclear war, so they went about fighting the battle against the Chinese in smaller countries that risked turning communist. They bombed Laos and Cambodia when the Vietnamese came in along the Ho Chi Minh trail. These 2 countries were the most bombed in the history of warfare. At some point in the bombing Congress banned all warfare of America in Southeast Asia. When the US left, communism took over, as people were so sick of the Americans by this point. Pathet Lao was formed in Laos, by Souphanouvong and Kaysone Phomvihane. They formed a coalition government with the original government, but the North Vietnamese, who supported Pathet Lao never left the country. Then, in April 1957, Communism took over. The Khmer Rouge took Cambodia, The Viet Cong of N. Vietnam Took over S. Vietnam as well, and the whole Lao government fell to the Pathet Lao. On December 2nd, 1957, the king had to give up his throne. The LPDR (Lao People Democratic Republic) was created.
What happened to the people? Let’s just say it was terrible. About 30-40 thousand people were sent to re-education camps. Teachers were forced into slave-labor to teach these poor people in the worst conditions. The camps were full of disease and death, and most people tried to escape. After 10 years people acknowledged that pure communism wasn’t going to work. People knew it wasn’t working and that it had failed them and their country. The leaders may have been rich, but everyone else was dirt poor. The country is still communist but is has recovered a bit from the big blow. The population had dropped during those 10 years due to death and people running away to Thailand, but Laos is making a comeback. They even tried to become capitalist in the early 1990’s but the communist leaders held power firmly. It is good that Laos is recovering and it’s people know and are glad about that