Luang Prabang, or Louangphrabang, is a city in north central Laos, at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers about 300 km north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province. The population of the city is about 50,000. Many legends are associated with the creation of the city, including one that recounts that Buddha would have smiled when he rested there during his travels, prophesying that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful city. Known as Muang Sua, then Xieng Thong, from the 14th to the 16th century the town became the capital of the powerful kingdom of Lane Xang (Kingdom of a Million Elephants), whose wealth and influence were related to its strategic location on the Silk Route. The city was also the centre of Buddhism in the region. Luang Prabang takes its name from a statue of Buddha, the Prabang, offered by Cambodia.
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