Luang Phabang (lwäng pəbängˈ) [key] or Luang Prabang prə–, city (1995 est. pop. 55,300), capital of Luang Phabang prov. and the historic, religious, and cultural capital of Laos, NW Laos, on the Mekong River. The economic center of N Laos, it is a river port and a market for rubber, rice, teak, and fish. Tourism is also important, and zinc is mined nearby. According to tradition, Luang Phabang was founded by Indian Buddhist missionaries; the modern city is the site of many Buddhist monasteries. For several centuries the city was the center of a Laotian-Thai kingdom that controlled most of Laos and parts of Siam; it is home of the former Royal Palace. Luang Phabang came under French rule in 1893.