Unlike other major Mekong towns, Pakse is not an old city. Rather it has risen in prominence, from relatively recent beginnings a hundred years ago as a French administrative centre, to being the region’s most important market town, attracting traders from Salavan, Attapeu, Xekong and Si Phan Don, as well as from Thailand. The diverse population of Vietnamese, Lao and Chinese today numbers some 70,000.