Laos celebrates its National Day on 2 December, the anniversary of the 1975 declaration of a People’s Democratic Republic.
Laos traces its history back to the 13th-century kingdom of Lan Xang, which flourished for 350 years before splitting into three principalities (Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Champasak) all acknowledging Siamese overlordship. The French established control of all three territories in the 19th century, reunited them under a single King once more, and maintained their rule until the Second World War, when the Japanese took over the country.
After the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the French re-established themselves in government, despite a declaration of independence by members of the Lao resistance. They gradually transferred power to a pro-French government, eventually quitting Indo-China in 1955 and leaving Laos in a state of political turmoil which repeatedly degenerated into civil war (in which one side was supported by the Communist government in North Vietnam). It wasn’t until after the Vietnam War ended that the Communist-led Pathet Lao eventually took entire political control of the country and forced King Savāngvatthanā to abdicate on 2 December 1975.