Luang Prabang

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Luang Prabang

a market town in N Laos, on the Mekong River: residence of the monarch of Laos (1946--75). Pop.: 26 400 (2003 est.)

Luang Prabang

 

a city in Laos, situated on the left bank of the Mekong, at the mouth of the Khan River, at an elevation of 350 m. It has a tropical monsoon climate with a dry period, an average January temperature of 22°C, and an average July temperature of 27.3°C. The mean annual precipitation is 854 mm. Population, 22,600 (1967). The city is the economic and cultural center of Laos. It has a landing and an airport and is connected by a highway with Vientiane, the administrative capital, and with the port of Vinh in Vietnam, on the Gulf of Tonkin. It is also a center of trade (rice and lumber materials), forestry industries, and handicraft production.

The city was founded in the 14th century as Muong Swa, the capital of the Laotian principality of the same name. It was the capital of the Laotian state of Lan Xang from 1353 to 1563 and was renamed Luang Prabang-in the early 15th century. From 1707 to 1893 it was the capital of the Luang Prabang principality, and from 1893 to 1946, of the Luang Prabang kingdom, a French protectorate. When the united state of Laos was established in 1947, Vientiane became the capital; Luang Prabang was the residence of the Laotian king until the monarchy was abolished in 1975.

Luang Prabang has a regular layout, with many pile and brick houses. There are about 30 wats, or monasteries, including the Vixun (1503, burned down in 1887, rebuilt in 1898), the Wat That (1548, rebuilt in 1907), the Xieng Thong (1561), the Xen (first half of the 18th century), the May (1796), the Aram (rebuilt in 1818), the Xieng Muong (1851), and the Pa Khe (rebuilt in 1851). In the center of the city is the Chomsi that (stupa) near the Phu Si hill (rebuilt in the early 20th century). The city is the site of the Royal Palace, built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Royal Library, containing a collection of ancient manuscripts.