• Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    Nepal
    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

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

  • Qatar!

    Qatar: Dhows in Doha Bay. Go Now!

    Qatar
    Although little more than a deserted peninsula, Qatar has a thriving culture based on technology and immigration, with Doha (pictured) taking the lead. Explore Qatar!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    Kyrgyzstan
    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!

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

Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Laos

Ethnicity

Just over half the people living in Laos are ethnically Lao, a group related to the people of Thailand, Myanmar, the Dai (a group in southern China) and to a lesser degree the Vietnamese. There are also a significant number of ethnic Khmer (Cambodians) and Hmong people, the latter of which is part of the Miao ethnic family, whose members include minority groups in modern day China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos.

Language

Lao is the official language of Laos and it is the most commonly spoken language in the country. Lao is a part of the Thai language family, making it distantly related to Thai as well as to numerous smaller languages. Lao is written in its own script, called the Lao script.

French is spoken by a number of older people who learned the language under French rule, but most people don't speak French today. Now English is being taught as a common second language, but again most people don't speak this language either. However, in some business sectors and the tourist industry English, French, and other popular international languages like German can be heard.

Religion

Just over two thirds of Laos's population is Buddhist, to which most of the ethnic Laos adhere. Of the remaining third, there is not consistency or large group as most of these people don't strongly identify with any particular religion or belief system.

Buddhism is a religion or philosophy that encourages people to strive for enlightenment. Adherents believe that each being is reborn until enlightenment is reached, at which time they escape the cycle of birth and death. To accomplish this, every being must speak, act, and live in a positive manner; this is magnified with the force of karma, which dictates an individual's later life and/or their rebirth.

This page was last updated: May, 2014