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Champasak Province

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Champasak Province

Champasak
ຈຳປາສັກ
Province
Map of Champasak Province
Map of Champasak Province
Map showing location of Champasak Province in Laos
Location of Champasak Province in Laos
Coordinates:
Country  Laos
Capital Pakse
Area
 • Total 15,415 km2 (5,952 sq mi)
Population (March 2005)
 • Total 607,333
 • Density 39/km2 (100/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+07
ISO 3166 code LA-CH

Champasak (or Champassak, ChampasackLao: ຈຳປາສັກ ) is a province in southwestern Laos, near the borders with Thailand and Cambodia. It is one of the three principalities that succeeded the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. In 2005, it had a reported population of 607,333. The capital is Pakse, but it takes its name from Champasak, the former capital of the Kingdom of Champasak.

Champasak Province covers an area of 15,415 square kilometres (5,952 sq mi). It is bordered by Salavan Province to the north, Sekong Province to the northeast, Attapeu Province to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. The river Mekong forms part of the border with neighboring Thailand and contains Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) in the south of the province, on the border with Cambodia.

Champasak has played a central role in the history of Siam and Laos, with frequent battles taking place in and around Champasak.[1] Its rich cultural heritage includes ancient temple ruins and French colonial architecture. Champasak has some 20 wats (temples), such as Wat Phou, Wat Luang, and Wat Tham Fai. Freshwater dolphins and the province's many waterfalls are tourist attractions.[1]

History

From the 1st to 9th centuries A.D., Champasak province was part of the Funan and then Chenla kingdoms. Between the 10th and 13th centuries it was part of the Khmer Empire. In 1354, the area came under the control of King Fa Ngum and the Lan Xang Empire.[2][1] The Angkor empire went into decline between the 15th and 17th centuries when it was annexed by Lan Xang. In 1707, Chamapasak became one of three kingdoms arising from a dissolved Lan Xang Empire. In the 18th century Laos became an independent kingdom. The kingdom had only three emperors, Soi Sisamut (1713–37), nephew of Suriya Vangas, Sainya Kuman (1737–91) and lastly Fai Na (1791–1811). Pakse, the capital of the province, was established by the French in 1905 as an administrative outpost at the confluence of Xe Don (Don River) with the Mekong River.[2]

Geography

Champasak Province covers an area of 15,415 square kilometres (5,952 sq mi).[3] It is bordered by Salavan Province to the north, Sekong Province to the northeast, Attapeu Province to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. The river Mekong forms part of the border with neighboring Thailand and, after a sharp bend projecting westward, turns east and flows southeasterly through the province down to Cambodia. Champasak can be reached from Thailand through Sirindhorn District's Chong Mek border crossing, to Vang Tao on the Lao side, from where the highway leads east towards the provincial capital Pakse. The capital is situated along Lao's most important highway, Route 13, and the French legacy can be seen in the city's architecture.[1][4]

Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) is situated in a river stretch of the Mekong, north of the border with Cambodia. Of these islands, Don Khong is the largest and has a number of small villages, temples and caves. A French-built bridge on the abandoned railway line provides the link with two smaller islands, Don Deth and Don Khon.[1]

There are many waterfalls in the province such as the Liphi Waterfall at Don Khon to the west of Ban Khon village; below the falls in the calmer waters of the Mekong the fresh water dolphins can be seen. The Khone Phapheng Falls to the east of Don Khon, also on the Mekong, cascade along a broad mouth of rock slopes in a curvilinear pattern. The 120 metres (390 ft) Tad Fane Waterfall (or Dong Hua Sao) in the Bolaven Plateau is the country's highest waterfall. It is created by the Champi and Prakkoot streams which originate at about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level.[1] The plateau is situated east of Pakse.[5]

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