Louangphabang, (Lao: ຫລວງພະບາງ) or Luang Phabang(pronounced [lǔaŋ pʰa.
bàːŋ]), commonly transliterated into Western languages from the pre-1975 Lao spelling ຫຼວງພຣະບາງ(ຣ = silent r) as Luang Prabang, literally meaning “Royal Buddha Image”, is a city innorth central Laos, consisting of 58 adjacent villages, of which 33 comprise the UNESCOTown Of Luang Prabang World Heritage Site.
It was listed in 1995 for unique and “remarkably”well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, a blend of the rural andurban developments over several centuries, including the French colonial influences duringthe 19th and 20th centuries.
The centre of the city consists of four mainroads and is located on a peninsula at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong River.
Luang Prabang is well known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms.
One of the city's major landmarks is Mount Phou Si; a large steep hill which despitethe constrained scale of the city, is 150 metres (490 ft) high; a steep staircase leadsto Wat Chom Si shrine and an overlook of the city and the rivers.
The city was formerly the capital of a kingdomof the same name.
It had also been known by the ancient name of Xieng Thong.
It was theroyal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos, until the Pathet Lao takeoverin 1975.
The city is part of Luang Prabang District of Luang Prabang Province and isthe capital and administrative centre of the province.
It lies approximately 300 km (190mi) north of the capital Vientiane.
Currently, the population of the city as a whole is roughly56, 000 inhabitants with the UNESCO protected site being inhabited by around 24, 000 Muang Sua was the old name of Luang Prabangfollowing its conquest in 698 CE by a Tai prince, Khun Lo.
Khun Lo had been awardedthe town by his father, Khun Borom, who is associated with the Lao legend of the creationof the world, which the Lao share with the Shan and other peoples of the region.
KhunLo established a dynasty whose fifteen rulers reigned over an independent Muang Sua fornearly a century.
In the second half of the 8th century, Nan-chaointervened frequently in the affairs of the principalities of the middle Mekong Valley, resulting in the occupation of Muang Sua in 709.
 Nan-chao princes oradministrators replaced the aristocracy of Tai overlords.
Dates of the occupation arenot known, but it probably ended well before the northward expansion of the Khmer empireunder Indravarman I (r.
877–89) and extended as far as the territories of Sipsong Pannaon the upper Mekong.
In the meantime, the Khmers founded an outpostat Xay Fong near Vientiane, and Champa expanded again in southern Laos, maintaining its presenceon the banks of the Mekong until 1070.
Chanthaphanit, the local ruler of Xay Fong, moved north toMuang Sua and was accepted peacefully as ruler after the departure of the Nan-chao administrators.
Chanthaphanit and his son had long reigns, during which the town became known by theTai name Xieng Dong Xieng Thong.
The dynasty eventually became involved inthe squabbles of a number of principalities.
Khun Chuang, a warlike ruler who may havebeen a Kammu (alternate spellings include Khamu and Khmu) tribesman, extended his territoryas a result of the warring of these principalities and ruled from 1128 to 1170.
Khun Chuang, a single family ruled over a far-flung territory and reinstituted the Siamese administrativesystem of the 7th century.
At some point, Theravada Buddhism was subsumed by MahayanaBuddhism.
Xieng Dong Xieng Thong experienced a briefperiod of Khmer suzerainty under Jayavarman VII from 1185 to 1191.
By 1180 the SipsongPanna had regained their independence from the Khmers, however, and in 1238 an internaluprising in the Khmer outpost of Sukhothai expelled the Khmer overlords.
Xieng Dong XiengThong in 1353 became the capital of the Lan Xang kingdom.
In 1359 the Khmer king fromAngkor gave the Phra Bang to his son-in-law, the first Lang Xang monarch Fa Ngum (1353-1373);to provide Buddhist legitimacy both to Fa Ngum's rule and by extension to the sovereigntyof Laos and was used to spread Theravada Buddhism in the new kingdom.
The capital name was changedto Luangphabang, where it was kept, named after the Buddha image.
The capital was moved in 1560 by King SetthathirathI to Vientiane, which remains the capital today.
Market in Luang Prabang pre-1901In 1707, Lan Xang fell apart because of a dynastic struggle and Luang Prabang becamethe capital of the independent Kingdom of Luang Phrabang.
When France annexed Laos, the French recognised Luang Prabang as the royal residence of Laos.
Eventually, the rulerof Luang Prabang became synonymous with the figurehead of Laos.
When Laos achieved independence, the king of Luang Prabang, Sisavang Vong, became the head of state of the Kingdom ofLaos The town was the scene of many events duringand in the aftermath of World War II and it was occupied by several foreign countriesduring the war (Vichy France, Thailand, Imperial Japan, Free France, and Nationalist China).
Initially the Vichy French controlled the city but lost it to Thai forces followingthe Franco-Thai War of 1940–1941.
On 9 March 1945, a nationalist group declared Laos oncemore independent, with Luang Prabang as its capital but on 7 April 1945 two battalionsof Japanese troops occupied the city.
 The Japanese attempted to force Sisavang Vong(the King of Luang Phrabang) to declare Laotian independence but on 8 April he instead simplydeclared an end to Laos' status as a French protectorate.
The King then secretly sentPrince Kindavong to represent Laos to the Allied forces and Sisavang Vatthana as representativeto the Japanese.
 Following Japan's surrender to the Allies, Free French forces were sentto reoccupy Laos and entered Luang Prabang on 25 August, at which time the King assuredthe French that Laos remained a French colonial protectorate.
In September the Chinese Nationalistforces arrived to receive the surrender of the remaining Japanese forces but also quicklyset about buying up the Laotian opium crop.
In April and May 1946 the French attemptedto recapture Laos by using paratroops to retake Vientiane and Luang Prabang and drive Phetsarathand the Lao Issara ministers out of Laos and into Thailand and Vietnam.
During the FirstIndochina War the Viet Minh and Pathet Lao forces attempted to capture the city severaltimes in 1953 and 1954 but were stopped before they could reach it by French forces.
During the Laotian Civil War of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, a secret American airbase was located at Luang Prabang and it was the sceneof fighting.
Luang Prabang remained the royal capital until 1975, when the Pathet Lao communistforces seized power with North Vietnamese support and dissolved the ancient monarchy.