Laos is characterized with peace and friendliness, but it doesn’t mean that there is only one group in Laos. According to Laos Government, there are 49 ethnic minorities in the land.
Classification of Ethnic Groups in Laos
We don’t attempt to list all of the ethnic groups available at Laos nowadays since it is a quite long list. Anyhow, we find the fact that the Lao Front for National Construction had recognized 49 ethnicities. Basically, the phrase “ethnic minorities” is employed to refer to the non-Lao ethnic groups in most situations. Know that the languages in Laos are rich and diverse. The groups can speak a sum of many different living languages.
Wikipedia has classified the Laos people into the 8 categories for the easy classification including Mon-Khmer, Palaungic, Khmuic, Tibeto-Burman, Hmong-Mien, Tai and Rau, Chinese, and Unclassified. Anyway, if we trace back in time, we get the fact that the Laos people could be divided into three large groups based on the altitude in which they live and work. Nevertheless, today we can witness several ethnic groups that live together on many levels.
The Lao Loum (or lowland of Laos) is settled in the plains. This is said to be the most fertile land. This group contains 50-60% of the population who mainly does the practices of Theravada Buddhist and widespread animism. This is the most dominant group.
The Theung Laos is consisted of many ethnic groups. The majority is the Khmu that lives in the north of Laos. Besides, the north also houses the Htin people who are good at bamboo weaving due to the cultural prohibition of using the metal.
The Lao Soung (or the mountainous Laos) includes the groups that live on the high altitude. The Hmong has the highest presence here, and their colorful costumes become the iconic symbol of the mountain.
Laos Culture Due To Different Ethnic Groups
The culture of Laos is rich with the immense influence of spirituality, and the major religion is Theravada Buddhism. The 49 ethnic minorities also value the practice of Sou Khoun, a rite to enrich the spirit. Any of the villages has one temple (at least). The temples are where the monks come to live and pray.
Besides, they are the center for various social and entertainment activities or events. Most of the ethnic groups need the temple for village meeting, festivals, and religious ceremonies. What’s more, the temples in the urban regions also serve as the shelters for the unfortunate or homeless people. The simple lifestyle of the Laos ethnic groups inspire guests to think of the true values of life. What’s the real happiness? Is that the moment you have a family meal together? When you’re in Laos and witness how the ethnic minorities live and work, you can even forget all of life anxiety and stress.
Whatever the ethnic groups, the Laos people are all kind, soft-hearted, and generous. They appreciate the family values and social relationship rather than privacy. The foreigners may even be surprised at the ways that the locals ask them some personal questions. Anyhow, please understand that this helps the Laos people get to know you better in their own ways!