⇐ Geography

Tourism / Transport ⇒

Culture / Religion

Despite its small population, Laos has 49 ethnic groups, or tribes, from which Lao, Khmou and Hmong constitute approximately three-quarters of the population. Most tribes are small, with some having just a few hundred members. The ethnic groups are divided into four linguistic branches: Lao-Tai language represented by 8 tribes, Mone-Khmer language with 32 tribes, Hmoung-Loumien language with 2 tribes, and Tibeto-Chinese language represented by 7 tribes.

Laos is officially Buddhist, and the national symbol, the gilded stupa of Pha That Luang, has replaced the hammer and sickle even on the state seal. Still, there is a good deal of animism mixed in, particularly in the baci (also baasi) ceremony conducted to bind the 32 guardian spirits to the participant's body before a long journey, after serious illness, the birth of a baby, or other significant events.


The official language of Laos is Lao, a tonal language closely related to Thai. Thanks to ubiquitous Thai broadcast media most Lao understand Thai fairly well, and some have adopted certain Thai words for tourist use, including farang ("Westerner". Does not apply to foreign Asians).

But it's worth learning a few basic expressions in Lao. The Lao people obviously appreciate that you make an effort even if it is quite limited. French, a legacy of the colonial days, still features on a few signs and is understood by a few people as it used to be a compulsory subject at school. However, the presence of English has also grown in recent years, with many younger people learning it. As a result, youth will generally know some basic English, though proficiency is generally poor.


67 percent of Laotians are Theravada Buddhist, 1.5 percent are Christian, and 31.5 percent are other or unspecified (mostly practitioners of Satsana Phi) according to the 2005 census. Buddhism has long been one of the most important social forces in Laos. Theravada Buddhism has coexisted peacefully since its introduction to the country with the local polytheism.

Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laos