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Getting started with Laos research

Laos, the Land of A Million Elephants, is a landlocked country in southeast Asia lying between Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Laos traces its history back to the Kingdom of Lan Xang which existed from the 14th to the 18th century. Laos is a mostly mountainous country with some plains and plateaus. The Mekong River forms a large part of the western border with Thailand, while the mountains of the Annamite Chain form most of the eastern border with Vietnam.

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  • There are no central registries of vital records in Laos. There are no standard forms for any civil record other than the Household Registry Book and national Identification Card. Documents can be obtained only by those applying in person and resident in Laos, and occasionally by family members applying in person. All documents should be considered unavailable to applicants outside of Laos.
  • Documents regarding events that took place before 1975 are unavailable. The Japanese Army destroyed virtually all extant French colonial records when it invaded Laos in World War II. When the Pathet Lao came to power in 1975, they destroyed most extant records of the former Royal government.
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