City Planning of the Lao/Thai

  • Martin Stuart-Fox
Living reference work entry

The closely related dominant ethnic groups in modern-day Laos and Thailand both belong to the broader ethnolinguistic group of people speaking Tai languages that extends into northwestern Vietnam and southern China. Small bands of Tai began migrating out of southern China into what are now Laos and Thailand from around the eighth century on. As they took possession of fertile river valleys, they established small principalities (called muang) dominated by powerful aristocratic families who differentiated themselves from the commoners over whom they ruled (Condominas, 1990). These social distinctions determined how their principal settlements were planned, in relation to the flow of the rivers on which they were constructed.

In northern Laos, the Lao displaced Mon/Khmer-speaking subsistence farmers. But further south in Laos and in northern and central Thailand, Tai expansion encountered advanced civilizations in the form of Mon and Khmer kingdoms, whose capital cities incorporated...


Commercial Area Rural Migration City Wall Royal Palace Royal City 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia