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    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

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    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

  • Laos!

    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

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    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

Culture & Identity of Laos

Introduction

The way of life in Laos is fairly simple as most people are rural farmers. Life for most people in the country revolves around family, community, and work.

Over three quarters of Laos's population work in agriculture, many of who are farmers. The way of life for these people is heavily dependent on the land and nature. Many people wake early and are out in the fields with the rising of the sun. Work is primarily by hand as heavy machinery is rare in the country, although simple plows and other tools are widely available.

For many Lao lunch is still a fairly long affair, often times undertaken during the hottest part of the day, which lasts from about noon to about 2:00 pm. Work then continues for the people until the sun sets. Of course for the farmers the rains and seasons strongly affect the day's schedule. During busy seasons farming is a family affair as many people get into the fields to help.

Community is also very important to these farmers as neighbors support each other in many ways, from helping build a structure to socialization. For these farmers, numerous crops are grown, but sweet potatoes, corn, coffee, sugarcane, and vegetables are among the most common.

For the people that have more regularly scheduled jobs, most of whom live in the cities, like is a bit more routine as work lasts from about 8:00 am to about 5:00 pm for most with an hour lunch break at about noon.

Many children in Laos attend school, but since the people are fairly wide spread schools can be very far from a person's home. Because of this it can take some children a full hour to get to and from school each day, either on foot or by bike. While many children attend and finish school, for others, once old enough to take over many of the farming duties, school is abandoned.

Identity

The people of Laos tend to identify as Lao, but how this term is defined is a source of confusion. Being Lao can be defined in political or ethnic terms and most Lao inside of Laos or close to Laos consider Lao to mean being an ethnic Lao living in Laos. However, many Lao outside of Laos and Southeast Asia (in North America for example) claim to be Lao, a statement and identity defined wholly in ethnic terms. Due to this, many ethnic Lao in Southeast Asia don't consider themselves Lao, but instead find numerous other ways to identify. A part of this detachment is that many Lao feel that their country is lagging behind neighbors so they don't have a strong sense of pride in the country and the name affiliated with the country, Lao. However, the ethnic Lao living in Laos almost always identify as being Lao. To these people, the term isn't necessarily one with a political implication, but is more reliant on the language, food, and other aspects of the culture. There are also numerous ethnic minorities in Laos, especially in the north and east. Most of these people identify with their ethnicity; among these people the Vietnamese and Hmong are two of the largest groups.

This page was last updated: November, 2013