Laos people

Laos, officially known as the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a Southeast Asian country with a population of over 7 million people. The country is known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse cultural heritage, and friendly people. Getting to know the people of Laos can be an enriching experience, as they are known for their warm hospitality, laid-back lifestyle, and unique customs and traditions. Despite being a relatively small country, Laos is home to over 100 different ethnic groups, each with their own distinct cultures and languages. In this article, we will get to know more about Laos people!

The original meaning of the word Lao is undetermined, although it may concern the Ai Lao tribes who were recorded in the Han Dynasty in both China and Vietnam as a community of what is called Yunan Province today. Tribes, going down from the Ai Lao included the Tai people who entered Southeast Asia countries. The Lao people, like other Tai people, also consider themselves as Tai and more specifically Tai Lao.

Derived from the Yue and the Ai Lao ancient people in China, the Tai tribes began to move to the Southeast Asia regions by the beginning of the 1st millennium. However, the most important and wide-ranging migrations happened from the 7th to the 13th centuries, especially from what is now Yunnan Province, Sipsongbanna, and Guangxi. The factors that caused these mass migrations including the strong pressures from Han Chinese and Mongol invasions, worthy land for agriculture, and the Nanzhao's collapse where the Tais resided in.

Laos people

According to the data collected from the newest government census in 2005, the total population of Laos is 5,609,997, and around 85% of this live in the countryside. The largest centers of population are the provinces of Savannakhet, Vientiane Prefecture and Champassak, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Khammouane with the numbers go 824,662; 695,473; 603,880; 405,949; 386,558; 336,935 respectively. In general, the population density is estimated at 25 people per kilometers’ square, one of the lowest in the Asia region.

Being among the list of the most ethnically diverse countries in Southeast Asia, Laos's numerous anthropologists and linguists have implemented various types of research to categorize its complicated array of ethnicities and sub-ethnicities, many of them use lots of different names and synonyms given by the government or other ethnic groups.

People in Laos

During the years 1970, the Lao government started to categorize its array of ethnic minorities into the 3 simple specifications including Lao Loum (Lowland Lao, referring to Lao, Lu, Phuan, and Austro-Thai language's Tai speakers), Lao Theung (Upland Lao, comprising all Austro-Asiatic language's speakers) and Lao Soung (Highland Lao, embracing the Austro-Thai language's Hmong-Mien speakers and all Sino-Tibetan language's speakers). In general, the Lao language contains three main branches: Austro-Thai, Austro-Asiatic, and Sino-Tibetan.

Based on the report of the government census implementing in 1995, the Lao Loum accounted for more than 3.1 million or 68% of the total population of 4.58 million people. Among them, there was only below 2.4 million (52% of the total number) was considered as original (ethnic) Lao; the other 700,000 (15% of the total number) contains several Northern, South Western, and uncategorized Tay-Tai speakers. 1.48 million Lao people, just more than 1 million (22% of the total number) contains Austro-Asiatic Mon-Khmer speakers (classified by the state as Lao Thueng or Upland Lao), just beyond 400,000 (9% of the total number) were Lao Soung or Highland Lao and about 45,000 (1% of the total population) ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese.

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