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Laos travel - people, language and religion

General & Introduction Infomation ••
Laos travel, people and culture







People, Language, Religion

The population of Lao PDR has reached 5,218,000, and is growing at an annual 2.4%. The average population density is 21 per square kilometre, giving Lao the lowest population density in Asia. The highest population in Lao is in Vientiane municipality, with 149 per square kilometre, while the lowest population density is in Saysomboun Special Zone, at 8 per square kilometre.
The estimate populations of the major provinces are:
598,000 in Vientiane prefecture:
766,000 in Savannakhet;
572,000 in Champassak;
416,000 in Luang Prabang; 333,000 in Sayaboury

About 85% of the population are rural dwellers, and the 1999 census revealed that there were 60,000 more women then men.
Over 70% (2,220,547) are engaged in productive work, and 936,870 are unemployed, a classification which includes students (69.4%), domestic workers (12.6%), the aged (14.6%).
There are 576,758 people at work in towns, and 2,580,659 work in the countryside.An age-group breakdown gives: 0-14 years - 2,251,600; 15,59 years -2,548,800; 60 years and above - 290,700 people.
The population consists of 94 ethnic groups, in four main linguistic families, according to preliminary figures given to a symposium on the name of ethnic groups on August 13-14,2000 The Mone-Khmer family has 32 ethnic groups which include Khmu, Pray, Singmou, Khom, Thene, Idou, Bid, Lamad, Samtao, Katang, Makong, Try, Trieng, Ta-oi, Yeh, Brao, Harak, Katou, Oi, Krieng, Yrou, Souai, Gnaheune, Lavy, Kabkae, Khmer, Toum, Ngouane, Meuang, and Kri.The Lao-Tai family includes eight groups: Lao, Prouthai, Tai, Lue, Gnouane, Young, Saek, and Thai Neua.
The Tibeto-Burnese family includes seven ethnic groups: Ahka, Singsali, Lahou, Sila, hayi, Lolo and Hor.
The Hmong-Ioumien category has two main tribes: Hmong and Ioumien.
These multi-ethnic people of Lao are generally scattered across the country, while each has its own unique tradition, culture and language.Lao people are frank, open and friendly, and they possess a strongly developed sense of courtesy and respect. Everyone who adheres to the latter will receive warm welcome.
The generally accepted from the greeting among Lao people is the Nop. It is perform by placing one palm together in a position of praying at chest level, but not touching the body. The higher the hands, the greater the sign of respect to persons of higher status and age.

It is also used as and expression of thanks, regret or saying good-bye. But with western people it is acceptable to shake hands. When entering a Wat or a private home it is customary to remove one's shoes. In Lao homes raised off the ground, the shoes are left at the stairs. In traditional homes one sits on low seats or cushions on the floor.

Men usually sit with their legs crossed or folded to one side, women prefer solely the latter. Upon entering guests may be served fruit or tea. These gestures of hospitality should not be refused.

Lao language is the national language. Other languages used are French, English, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.Buddhism first appeared in Laos during the eighth century A.D. as shown by both the Buddha image and the stone inscription found at Ban Talat near Vientiane, now exhibited at the Museum of Hoprakao After the foundation of the unified Kingdom of Lane Xang, King Fan gum (14th century) declared.

Buddhism first appeared in Laos during the eighth century A.D. as shown by both the Buddha image and the stone inscription found at Ban Talat near Vientiane, now exhibited at the Museum of Hoprakao After the foundation of the unified Kingdom of Lane Xang, King Fan gum (14th century) declared. Buddhism as the state religion and urged the people to the abandon animism or other beliefs such as the cult of spirits. His policy meant to develop the Laos 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 woman can be seen each morning giving alms to monks, earring merit to lessen the number of their rebirth. Lao men are expected to be come a monk for at least a short time in their lives. Traditionally they spent three months during the rainy season in a Wat. A Buddhist temple. But nowadays most men curtail their stay to one or two weeks.Laos has a total population of 4.6 million, 13% of whom live in Vientiane province. People share a rich ethnic diversity, comprising such groups Hmong, Khmu, Yao, Akha, Lu etc. Most of them have kept their own customs; dialects and traditional dress in total 47 different groups are accounted for in Laos. These can be classified into three broad groups

- The Lao Lum (lowlanders) who make up 70% of the population and predominantly live Mekong River.

- The Lao Theung (uplands) who comprise 20% of the population and on the lope and with an elevation of less than 1,000metres.
The Lao Song (hill tribes) who constitute 10% of the population and live in the mountainous areas.The population density of Laos amounts to 19 people per square kilometer, a small number compared to the country's neighbors: 120 people per square kilometer in Thailand; and 200 people per square kilometer in China




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