Laos has a total population of 4.6 million, 13% of whom live in
Vientiane province. People share a rich ethnic diversity, compromising
of group such as Hmong, Khmu, Yao, A Kha, Lu and Ikoh. Most of them
have kept their custom, dialects and notional dress. In total, 47
different groups are accounted for in Laos. These can be classified
into three broad groups, such as:
Lao Lum or also known as the (lowlanders), who make up 70%
of the population and predominantly live along the Mekong River.
The Lao Theung or also known as the uplanders who compromise
20% of the population and live on the slopes and hills with an elevation
of less than 1,000 meters.
The Lao Soung or the Hill Tribes who constitute of 10% of the
population live's in the mountain areas.
The population's density of Laos amounts to 19 people per square
kilometers. This is a relatively small number compared to the country's
neighbors which is 120 people per square kilometers in Thailand,
and 200 people per square kilometers in China.
The official language is Lao. Other than that languages such as
French , English, Chinese , Thai and Vietnamese are also used widely.
Buddhism first appeared in Laos during the eight century A.D as
shown by both the Buddha image and the stone inscription found at
the Ban Talat near Vientiane, now exhibited at the Museum of Ho
After the foundation of the unified kingdom of Lane Xang, King
FaNgum ྮth century)declared Buddhism as the state religion
and urged the people to abandon animism or other beliefs such as
the cult of spirits. His policy meant to develop the Lao culture
based on a common faith the Theravada Buddhism.
Today Theravada Buddhism is the professed religion of about 90
% of Lao people. Buddhism is an inherent feature of daily life and
casts a strong influence on Lao society. Lao women can bee seen
each morning giving alms to the monks, earing merit to lessen the
number of their rebirth. Lao men are expected to become a monk for
at least a short time in their lives.
Traditionally, they spent three months during the rainy season
in a Vat, that is a Buddhist temple. But nowadays, most men curtail
their stay to one or two weeks.