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The Lao people are a Tai
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousn ...
native to
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
, who speak the
eponymous language
eponymous language
of the
Kra–Dai languages The Kra–Dai languages (also known as Tai–Kadai and Daic) are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. ...
, originating from present-day southern China. They are the majority ethnic group of
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...

Laos
, making up 53.2% of the total population. The majority of Lao people adhere to
Theravada Buddhism Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invas ...
. They are closely related to other
Tai peoples Tai people refers to the population of descendants of speakers of a common Tai language, including sub-populations that no longer speak a Tai language. There are a total of about 93 million people of Tai ancestry worldwide, with the largest eth ...
, especially (or synonymous) with the
Isan people The Isan people ( th, คนอีสาน, , ; lo, ຄົນອີສານ, Burmese language, Burmese: အီသန်လူမျိုး) or Northeastern Thai people are an ethnic group, ethno-Regionalism (politics), regional group native t ...
, who are also speakers of Lao language, but native to neighboring
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
. In Western historiography, terms ''Lao people'' and ''Laotian'' have had a loose meaning. Both terms have been irregularly applied both to all natives of Laos in general, aside from or alongside ethnic Lao during different periods in history. Since the end of French rule in Laos in 1953, ''Lao'' has been applied solely to the ethnic group while Laotian refers to any citizen of Laos regardless of their ethnic identity. Certain countries still conflate the terms in their statistics.


Names

The
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identi ...
of the word ''Lao'' is uncertain, although it may be related to tribes known as the '' Ai Lao'' (Lao: , Isan: อ้ายลาว, ,
Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia ** A citizen of Vietnam. See Demographics of Vietnam. * Vietnamese people, or Kinh people, a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to Vietnam ** Oversea ...
: Ai Lao) who appear in
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
records in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
and
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
as a people of what is now
Yunnan Province Yunnan () is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivi ...
. Tribes descended from the Ai Lao included the Tai tribes that migrated to
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. According to
Michel Ferlus Michel Ferlus (born 1935) is a French linguist whose special study is in the historical phonology of languages of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern su ...
(2009), ethnonym and autonym of the Lao people (ລາວ); nationality of the inhabitants of Laos is formed by the monosyllabization of the Austroasiatic etymon for 'human being' *k.raw.Ferlus, Michel (2009). Formation of Ethnonyms in Southeast Asia
''42nd International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics, Nov 2009, Chiang Mai, Thailand. 2009'', pp.3-4.
The peoples named Lao (lǎo 獠), supposed to be the ancestors of Lao and some other Tai-Kadai populations, settled in the upper Tonkin and in parts of Yúnnán and Guìzhōu during the Táng times. This reconstruction of the pronunciation for the phonogram 獠 confirms that ‘Lao’ originates in the etymon *k.raːw. The English word ''Laotian'', used interchangeably with Lao in most contexts, comes from French ''laotien/laotienne''. The dominant ethnicity of
Northeastern Thailand Northeast Thailand or Isan ( Isan/ th, อีสาน, ; lo, ອີສານ ; also written as Isaan, Isarn, Issarn, Issan, Esan, or Esarn; from Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontine ...
who descend from the Lao are differentiated from the Lao of Laos and by the Thais by the term
Isan people The Isan people ( th, คนอีสาน, , ; lo, ຄົນອີສານ, Burmese language, Burmese: အီသန်လူမျိုး) or Northeastern Thai people are an ethnic group, ethno-Regionalism (politics), regional group native t ...
or ''Thai Isan'' (Lao: , Isan: ไทยอีสาน, ), a Sanskrit-derived term meaning ''northeast'', but 'Lao' is still used.


Subdivisions of the Lao people

In
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...

Laos
, little distinction is made between the Lao and other closely related
Tai peoples Tai people refers to the population of descendants of speakers of a common Tai language, including sub-populations that no longer speak a Tai language. There are a total of about 93 million people of Tai ancestry worldwide, with the largest eth ...
with mutually intelligible languages who are grouped together as ''Lao Loum'' or 'Lowland Lao' (Lao: ''láːu lūm '', Thai: ลาวลุ่ม, IPA: laːw lum). Most of these groups share many common cultural traits and speak dialects or languages that are very similar, with only minor differences in tones, vocabulary, and pronunciation of certain words, but usually not enough to impede conversation, but many of these groups, such as the
Nyaw The Lao Nyaw, Thai Nyaw or Tai Yo (Thai/Isan: wikt:ไทญ้อ, ไทญ้อ, , Isan pronunciation: , Khmer language, Khmer: ឡាវញ៉) are an ethnic group of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, scattered throughout the provinces of Isan such ...
and
Phuthai Phu Thai (Phuu Thai; Thai, Phu Thai: ''Phasa Phuthai'', ภาษาผู้ไท or ภูไท) is a Southwestern Tai languages, Southwestern Tai language spoken in Laos and Thailand. Although it appears different from the Isan language, Is ...
consider themselves distinct, and often have differences in clothing that distinguish them.The Thai and Other Tai-Speaking Peoples
/ref>


History


Tai Migration Period

Early Chinese records used the term Yue to describe the non-Chinese people south of the Yangtze. In the spring and autumn period (770-475 BC) the term was applied to a state on the southeast coast which was destroyed in 334 BC as the Han Chinese moved across the Yangtze into the south. Subsequently, the term “Hundred Yue” was applied generically to the subjugated people's in the south, with modifiers to denote groups in different locations or with some other distinguishing characteristics (Phomphan 1988). The term Yue fades from usage around 0AD as the Chinese gained more knowledge of the southern people's and began using other descriptors (Barlow 2001, chs. 1–2; Taylor 1983, 41-4). None of the modern terms used for Tai groups can be detected in these descriptors except Lao or Ai Lao people, which was applied to a variety of groups, mostly Hill-dwellers (Taylor 1983, 172; Cholthira 2001, 22-4). This indicates that the Lao are at the very least a Proto-Tai groups; perhaps even that all Tai groups are actually subgroups of these ancient Lao people, as there are no descriptors to indicate the existence of any group called Tai living south of the Yangtze, subsequently the first references of a group called Tai appeared in the 13th centuries, no such references of a groups called or calling themselves Tai seem to exist. Other indicators that these early Proto-Tai groups called themselves Lao people can be seen in the Chronicles of the Tai Dam or Black Tai people, “Returning along Mae Nam Taav (The Red river) as promised, the expedition passed through near today’s boarder of Vietnam and China, To mark their arrival, they named the area Lao Cai, which means “where the Lao passed over.” Lao Cai is now a province in Northwest Vietnam. also, about 5 kilometers north of Lao Cai, there is a town still named “Lao Phan” which means “where the Lao passed through.” Some Tai people still live there” (G.E. Hall, A History of SEA (1981)) According to a shared legend amongst various Tai tribes, a possibly mythical king,
Khun Borom Khun Borom ( th, ขุนบรม, ) or Khoun Bourôm ( lo, ຂຸນບູຣົມ, ) is a legendary progenitor of the Southwestern Tai The Southwestern Tai, Southwestern Thai or Thai languages are an established branch of the Tai languages o ...
Rachathiriat of Mueang Then (, เมืองแถน, ) begot several sons that settled and ruled other
mueang Mueang ( th, เมือง ''mɯ̄ang'', ), Muang ( lo, ເມືອງ ''mɯ́ang'', ; Tai Nuea Tai Nuea or Tai Nüa (Tai Nüa: ; also called Tai Le, Dehong Dai or Chinese Shan; own name: ''Tai2 Lə6'', which means "Upper Tai" or "Northern Ta ...
, or city-states, across South-East Asia and southern China. Descended from ancient peoples known to the Chinese as the Yue and the Ai Lao, the Tai tribes began migrating into South-East Asia by the beginning of the 1st millennium, but large-scale migrations took place between the 7th and 13th centuries AD, especially from what is now Sipsongbanna,
Yunnan Province Yunnan () is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivi ...
and
Guangxi Guangxi (; alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, uni ...

Guangxi
. The possible reasons for Tai migration include pressures from
Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
expansion, Mongol invasions, suitable land for wet rice cultivation and the fall of states that the Tais inhabited. According to linguistic and other historical evidence, Tai-speaking tribes migrated southwestward to the modern territories of Laos and Thailand from
Guangxi Guangxi (; alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, uni ...

Guangxi
sometime between the 8th–10th centuries.Pittayaporn, Pittayawat (2014). Layers of Chinese Loanwords in Proto-Southwestern Tai as Evidence for the Dating of the Spread of Southwestern Tai
. ''MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities'', Special Issue No 20: 47–64.
The Tai assimilated or pushed out indigenous
Austroasiatic The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken lan ...

Austroasiatic
Mon–Khmer The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and southern China. There are around 117 million speakers of Austroasi ...
peoples, and settled on the fringes of the Indianized kingdoms of the Mon and
Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer Empire
. The blending of peoples and the influx of Indian philosophy, religion, language, culture and customs via and alongside some
Austroasiatic The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken lan ...

Austroasiatic
element enriched the Tai peoples, but the Tais remained in contact with the other Tai
mueang Mueang ( th, เมือง ''mɯ̄ang'', ), Muang ( lo, ເມືອງ ''mɯ́ang'', ; Tai Nuea Tai Nuea or Tai Nüa (Tai Nüa: ; also called Tai Le, Dehong Dai or Chinese Shan; own name: ''Tai2 Lə6'', which means "Upper Tai" or "Northern Ta ...
.


Lanxang

The Tai states took advantage of the waning
Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer Empire
and emerged independent. The Lao reckon the beginnings of their national history to this time, as many important monuments, temples, artwork, and other aspects of classical Lao culture harken back to this time period. From this point, one can refer to the Tai states of the
Chao Phraya River The Chao Phraya ( or ) ( th, wikt:เจ้าพระยา, แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา , or ) is the major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It flows through Bangkok and th ...

Chao Phraya River
valley as Siam and, albeit quite anachronistically, Lan Xang as Laos. The Kingdom of Lanxang, the "Land of One Million Elephants", began in 1354 AD, when Somdej Phra Chao
Fa Ngum Somdetch Brhat-Anya Fa Ladhuraniya Sri Sadhana Kanayudha Maharaja Brhat Rajadharana Sri Chudhana Negara ລາວ: ສົມເດັດ ພຣະບາດ ອັນຍາ ຟ້າ ລັດທຸຣັນຍາ ສຣີ ສັດຕະນາ ...
(1354 - 1373 AD) returned to Mueang Sua (, เมืองซวา), thence renamed ''Xieng Thong'' (, เชียงทอง) and now known as Luang Prabang. From this base Lan Xang extended its sphere of influence to all of modern-day Laos and the
Khorat Plateau The Khorat Plateau ( th, ที่ราบสูงโคราช) is a plateau in the northeastern Thailand, Thai region of Isan. The plateau forms a natural region, named after the short form of Nakhon Ratchasima, a historical barrier controllin ...
of Thailand as well as parts of Sipsongbanna in southern China,
Sip Song Chau Tai The Sip Song Chau TaiOther spellings include: Sip Song Chau Thai, Sipsong Chuthai, Sipsong Chu Tai, Sip Song Chu Tai, Sipsongchuthai, Sip Song Chu Thai, Sipsong Chau Tai, Sip Song Chao Thai, Sipsong Chao Tai, Sipsongchutai, Sipsong Chao Thai. ("Twel ...
in northwestern Vietnam,
Kengtung Kengtung ( Shan: ), also spelt Kyaingtong (; ), is a town in Shan State , native_name_lang = my , settlement_type = State , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_capt ...
in Myanmar, and
Stung Treng Stung Treng City ( km, ទីក្រុងស្ទឹងត្រែង) ( lo, ຊຽງແຕງ ) is the capital of Stung Treng Province, Cambodia. It is the major city (and capital) of both the district and province. Geography Stung Treng ...
in Cambodia. The powerful Kingdom of Lan Xang had wealth and influence due to the location of its capital along the Silk Route and also serving as the center of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. The kingdom prospered with riverine traffic along the
Mekong The Mekong or Mekong River is a trans-boundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these river ...

Mekong
and overland caravan routes to the ports of Siam, which had emerged as a bustling entrepôt of sea-borne trade, and to southern China and other Tai
mueang Mueang ( th, เมือง ''mɯ̄ang'', ), Muang ( lo, ເມືອງ ''mɯ́ang'', ; Tai Nuea Tai Nuea or Tai Nüa (Tai Nüa: ; also called Tai Le, Dehong Dai or Chinese Shan; own name: ''Tai2 Lə6'', which means "Upper Tai" or "Northern Ta ...
. The first Western visitors during the reign of Phra Chao
Sourigna Vongsa Souligna Vongsa (ສຸຣິຍະວົງສາທັມມິກຣາດ ) was the king of Lan Xang The Lao Kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao ( lo, ລ້ານຊ້າງ ຮົ່ມຂາວ ''lān sāng hom khāo'', ; "Million Elephants ...
(, พระเจ้าสุริยวงศาธรรมิกราช) (1634–1697 AD) noted how the kingdom prospered off exports of gold, benzoin resin,
lac Lac is the resinous secretion of a number of species of lac insects, of which the most commonly cultivated is ''Kerria lacca ''Kerria lacca'' is a species of insect in the family Kerriidae ''Kerriidae'' is a family of Coccoidea, scale insec ...

lac
and lacquer ware, medicinal herbs, ivory, silk and silk clothing, and wood. Numerous temples, especially in Xieng Thong (now
Luang Phrabang Luang Phabang, (Lao language, Lao: wikt:ຫລວງພະບາງ, ຫລວງພະບາງ/wikt:ຫຼວງພະບາງ, ຫຼວງພະບາງ) or ''Louangphabang'' (pronounced ), commonly Transliteration, transliterated into Wes ...
) and
Vientiane Vientiane ( , ; lo, wikt:ວຽງຈັນ, ວຽງຈັນ, ) is the capital city, capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1573, due to fears of a ...

Vientiane
, attest this.Simms, P., & Simms, S. (2001). The Kingdoms of Laos. London, UK: Curzon Press. During this time, the legends of
Khun Borom Khun Borom ( th, ขุนบรม, ) or Khoun Bourôm ( lo, ຂຸນບູຣົມ, ) is a legendary progenitor of the Southwestern Tai The Southwestern Tai, Southwestern Thai or Thai languages are an established branch of the Tai languages o ...
were recorded on palm-leaf manuscripts and the Lao classical epic Sin Xay was composed.
Therevada Buddhism Theravāda (; Pali, Pāli, lit. "School of the Thero, Elders") is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism, Buddhism's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Theravādins, have preserved their version of Gautama Buddha's teach ...
was the state religion, and Vientiane was an important city of
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, an ...

Buddhist
learning. Cultural influences, besides Buddhism, included the Mon outposts later assimilated into the kingdom and the Khmer. A brief union of the crowns of Lannathai and Lanxang under Phra Chao Sai Sethathirath (, พระเจ้าไชยเชษฐาธิราช) (1548–1572 AD) introduced many architectural and artistic developments, in imitation of Lannathai style, but intellectual as well. The libraries of Lannathai were copied, including much religious literature. This may have led to the adoption, or possibly re-adoption, of the Mon-based Tua Tham, or 'dharma script' for religious writings. The kingdom split into three rival factions, ruling from Luang Phra Bang, Vientiane, and Champasak (, จำปาศักดิ์). The kingdoms quickly fell under Siamese rule. The remnants of Lan Xang received their final blows in the 18th and 19th centuries, during the campaigns of
Taksin King Taksin the Great ( th, สมเด็จพระเจ้าตากสินมหาราช, , ) or the King of Thonburi ( th, สมเด็จพระเจ้ากรุงธนบุรี, ; ; Teochew: Dên Chao; Vietnamese ...
, and retribution for the Laotian Rebellion of Chao
Anouvong Chao Anouvong ( lo, ເຈົ້າອານຸວົງສ໌; th, เจ้าอนุวงศ์; ), or regnal name A regnal name, or reign name, is the name used by monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMon ...
(, เจ้าอนุวงศ์) against Siamese rule during the reign of
Rama III Nangklao ( th, พระบาทสมเด็จพระนั่งเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว) or Rama III (31 March 1788 – 2 April 1851) was the third monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri, ruling from 21 J ...

Rama III
. During both these periods, Vientiane and other cities were looted and their Buddha images and artwork moved to Thailand.Askew, Marc, Logan, William, & Long, Colin. (2007). Vientiane: transformations of a lao landscape. New York, NY: Routledge. The cities and much of the population was forcibly removed and settled in the lesser populated regions of
Isan Northeast Thailand or Isan (Isan language, Isan/ th, อีสาน, ; lo, ອີສານ; also written as Isaan, Isarn, Issarn, Issan, Esan, or Esarn; from Pali ''īsānna'' or Sanskrit ईशान्य ''īśānya'' "northeast") consist ...
and central Thailand and others were enslaved to do
corvée Corvée () is a form of unpaid, forced labour Unfree labour, or forced labour, is any work relation, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will with the threat of destitution, detention, ...

corvée
projects, resulting in Lao arts and language finding their way into Central Thailand. By the time the French reached Laos in 1868, they had only found a depopulated region with even the great city of Vientiane disappearing into the forest.


Lao after Lanxang


Lao in Laos

The area of Laos, then annexed by Siam, was explored by the French and, under Auguste Pavie, the French were keen to control the
Mekong The Mekong or Mekong River is a trans-boundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these river ...

Mekong
. The French, as overlords of Vietnam, wanted all the tributaries of Vietnam, including the remnant territories of Lanxang. This led to French
gunboat diplomacy In international politics, the term gunboat diplomacy refers to the pursuit of foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international po ...
and border skirmishes known as the
Franco-Siamese War The Franco-Siamese War of 1893 was a conflict between the French Third Republic The French Third Republic (french: La Troisième République, sometimes written as ) was the system of government adopted in History of France, France from 1870, ...
of 1893, which forced Siam to cede its claims to most of what constitutes modern-day Laos. The French prevented and preserved the Lao from becoming a regional sub-category of the Thai nation, much like their brethren in
Isan Northeast Thailand or Isan (Isan language, Isan/ th, อีสาน, ; lo, ອີສານ; also written as Isaan, Isarn, Issarn, Issan, Esan, or Esarn; from Pali ''īsānna'' or Sanskrit ईशान्य ''īśānya'' "northeast") consist ...
, also known as the 'North-Eastern Thai'. Like former historical rivalries between the kings of Luang Phrabang, Champasak and Vientiane, post-independence Laos was quickly divided between the royalists under Prince
Boun Oum Prince Boun Oum (also Prince Boun Oum Na Champassak; lo, ບຸນອຸ້ມ ນະ ຈຳປາສັກ; th, บุญอุ้ม ณ จัมปาศักดิ์; ; 2 December 1912 – 17 March 1980) was the son of King Ratsadanay ...
of Champasak (, เจ้าบุญอุ้ม ณ จำปาศักดิ์), the neutralists under Prince
Souvanna Phouma Prince Souvanna Phouma (; 7 October 1901 – 10 January 1984) was the leader of the neutralist faction and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Laos several times (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960, and 1962–1975). Early life Souvanna Phouma was the s ...
(, เจ้าสุวรรณภูมา), and the communist
Pathet Lao The Pathet Lao ( lo, ປະເທດລາວ , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recogni ...
(, ประเทศลาว, pá tʰêːt lá:w) under his half-brother Prince
Souphanouvong Prince Souphanouvong (; 13 July 1909 – 9 January 1995) was, along with his half-brother Prince Souvanna Phouma and Prince Boun Oum of Champasak, one of the " Three Princes" who represented respectively the communist (pro-Vietnam), neutralis ...

Souphanouvong
(, เจ้าสุภานุวงศ์). These internal divisions, with the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
and the region quickly being drawn into the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
, led to a protracted battle for government control that would not end until the communist victory in 1975. The
Laotian Civil War The Laotian Civil War (1959–1975) was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take c ...
was disastrous for the country, however, over the years the country has since relaxed many of its restrictions, which has opened up the country to trade and business resulting in Laos notably having the second fastest growing economy in Asia in recent years. Laos has garnered several famous tourism awards by successfully promoting its northern city,
Luang Prabang Luang Phabang, (Lao language, Lao: wikt:ຫລວງພະບາງ, ຫລວງພະບາງ/wikt:ຫຼວງພະບາງ, ຫຼວງພະບາງ) or ''Louangphabang'' (pronounced ), commonly Transliteration, transliterated into We ...

Luang Prabang
, as the newest tourist destination including serving as a religious hub where tourists may participate in alms giving during morning procession of Lao Buddhist monks.


Lao in Thailand

Although parts of Isan were settled and were part of Lanxang, many of the Lao were forcibly settled in the lesser populated southern and western regions or sent to boost the populations of Lao mueang loyal to the Siamese. The area was relatively isolated from the rest of Thailand by the Petchabun mountains until the beginning of the 20th century, when a direct rail link was built to
Nakhon Ratchasima Nakhon Ratchasima ( th, นครราชสีมา, ) is one of the four major cities of Isan, Thailand, known as the "big four of Isan". The city is commonly known as Korat (, ), a shortened form of its name. It is the governmental seat of ...
. The region's isolation from Central Thailand and the large population of people in Isan, who were still attached to their cultural heritage, helped preserve Lao culture. Though Isan is a multi-ethnic region containing a mixture of Lao, Vietnamese, Cham, Mon, Khmer, and other Tai groups, Central Thais' perceived threat of Lao cultural and political dominance in the Isan region resulted in various
Thaification Image:Lanna cm2.jpg, 300px, A name board on a wat in Chiang Mai written in the Tai Tham alphabet ("Lan Na alphabet", ). The use of this script was discouraged and the Northern Thai language is now written with the Thai alphabet. Thaification, or Th ...
policies being enacted to finally integrate the multi-ethnic Isan people into Thailand. Since Lao dominance was seen as the greatest threat in the region, 'Lao' was removed as a category in the census, and heavy-handed policies were enacted. References to Lao people or its past were removed and the language was banned from schools and books. Although the region remains mainly agricultural and poorer compared to other regions of Thailand, and many leave the region to find work in Vientiane, Bangkok or abroad, the region has enjoyed a renewed interest in traditional culture which is quite distinct although similar to Thai culture. The region is becoming increasingly more urban, and many large cities have sprung up. Due to the large population and Isan's important function as a voting bloc in elections, more attention to improving the region's infrastructure, business and education has come from the national government although poverty and regionalism are still impediments to Isan's development. In recent times, Lao popular media, including Lao music and television, has found its way back into the Isan region since Lao TV satellite signal is reachable in Isan. With the rediscovered interest in Lao pop music, Lao concerts are not only held in Laos, but also in Isan region of Thailand, thus, continually garnering new Thai fans of Lao pop music. Thailand's national channels have also broadcast Lao media throughout Thailand, as well as Thai media in Laos, resulting in Tai populations located in the other regions of Thailand (northern, central, and southern) discovering a renewed kinship with the people of Laos.


Geographical distribution

There are around 3.6 million Laotians in Laos, constituting approximately 68% of the
population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size of the resident population within their jurisdiction by a process called a ...

population
(the remainder are largely
hill tribe Hill people, also referred to as mountain people, is a general term for people who live in the hill A hill is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body. Landforms t ...
people). The ethnic Lao of Laos form the bulk of the ''
Lao Loum The Lao Loum ( lo, ລາວລຸ່ມ; th, ลาวลุ่ม, , ) is an official Lao People's Democratic Republic designation for lowland dwelling Tai peoples, including the majority Lao people. The Lao Loum, literally meaning 'lowland ...
'' ("Lowland Laotians") (Lao: , Thai: ลาวลุ่ม, IPA: laːw lum). Small Lao communities exist in
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
and
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
, residing primarily in the former Lao territory of
Stung Treng Stung Treng City ( km, ទីក្រុងស្ទឹងត្រែង) ( lo, ຊຽງແຕງ ) is the capital of Stung Treng Province, Cambodia. It is the major city (and capital) of both the district and province. Geography Stung Treng ...
( Xieng Teng in Lao), and
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
. There are a substantial number of Lao overseas, numbering over 500,000 people. Laotian migration outside of Indochina first occurred during French colonialism in Laos that started in the early 20th century. Lao students and workers came to
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
during this period, including members of the Lao Royal Family, and some resettled there permanently. However, most Lao migrants were
refugee A refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person Forced displacement (also forced migration) is an involuntary or coerced movement of a person or people away from their home or home region In geography, regions are areas that are broa ...

refugee
s who fled Laos after the
Laotian Civil War The Laotian Civil War (1959–1975) was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take c ...
(part of the greater
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
) and from the new communist
Pathet Lao The Pathet Lao ( lo, ປະເທດລາວ , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recogni ...
government. Primary places of asylum for the Lao refugees included the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, France,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. Other countries such as
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
,
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

Argentina
, and
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

Singapore
also took in Laotian refugees. The 2010 United States Census reported over 200,000 Americans of Lao descent in the country, a figure which excludes Hmong and Mien, but may include individuals of Tai Dam, Khmu, and other descent in addition to the Lao due to confusions between national and ethnic identity. A 2012 estimate counted about 140,000 ethnic Laotians living in France, with over half of the population living in
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
and the surrounding
Île-de-France The Île-de-France (, ; literally "Isle of France") is the most populous of the eighteen regions of France France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in ...

Île-de-France
area. There are approximately 20 million ''Lao Isaan'' in Thailand, residing mainly on the
Khorat Plateau The Khorat Plateau ( th, ที่ราบสูงโคราช) is a plateau in the northeastern Thailand, Thai region of Isan. The plateau forms a natural region, named after the short form of Nakhon Ratchasima, a historical barrier controllin ...
in northeastern Thailand and in and around Bangkok. The government of Thailand has historically discouraged the ''Lao Isaan'' from identifying as or being identified as ''Lao''.


Language

The Lao language is a tonal, analytic, right-branching, pronoun pro-drop language of the Tai–Kadai language family, closely related to Thai and other languages of Tai peoples. Most of the vocabulary is of native Tai origin, although important contributions have come from
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
as well as
Mon–Khmer The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and southern China. There are around 117 million speakers of Austroasi ...
languages. The alphabet is an indic-based alphabet. Although the Lao have five major dialects, they are all mutually intelligible and Lao people believe they all speak variations of one language.


Lao in Laos

The Lao language () is the official language of the
Lao People's Democratic Republic , national_anthem = " Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao , recognised_languages = French , languages_type = Spoken languages , ...
and its official script is the Lao alphabet.Lao pdr constitution. (1997). Retrieved fro
laoembassy.com
As the dominant language of most of the
Lao Loum The Lao Loum ( lo, ລາວລຸ່ມ; th, ลาวลุ่ม, , ) is an official Lao People's Democratic Republic designation for lowland dwelling Tai peoples, including the majority Lao people. The Lao Loum, literally meaning 'lowland ...
and therefore most of the Lao population, the language is enshrined as the dominant language of education, government, and official use. Numerous minority languages are spoken by roughly half the population, and include languages of the
Austroasiatic The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken lan ...

Austroasiatic
,
Sino-Tibetan Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family of more than 400 languages, second only to Indo-European in number of native speakers. The vast majority of these are the 1.3 billion native speakers of Chinese languages ...

Sino-Tibetan
,
Austronesian Austronesian may refer to: *The Austronesian languages *The historical Austronesian peoples who carried Austronesian languages on their migrations {{disambiguation ...
and Hmong–Mien language families. Although spelling is not fully uniform, despite several reforms to move the language closer to phonetical systems, it has helped stabilise the language. No official standard exists, but the dialect of
Vientiane Vientiane ( , ; lo, wikt:ວຽງຈັນ, ວຽງຈັນ, ) is the capital city, capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1573, due to fears of a ...

Vientiane
is considered
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
official.


Lao in Thailand

The boundaries of Lao dialects also extend into the North-East of Thailand, known as
Isan Northeast Thailand or Isan (Isan language, Isan/ th, อีสาน, ; lo, ອີສານ; also written as Isaan, Isarn, Issarn, Issan, Esan, or Esarn; from Pali ''īsānna'' or Sanskrit ईशान्य ''īśānya'' "northeast") consist ...
, but the Lao spoken in Thailand as a whole can be differentiated by adoption of much Thai vocabulary and
code-switching In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
. The language is not taught or used in schools, government, and most media outlets. Thaification policies removed the alphabet and now the language is written in the Thai alphabet, if at all, and the name changed to Isan to sever the political connection with Laos. Despite this, the Lao language is spoken by 20 million people, almost a third of the population of Thailand, and is the primary language of 88% of Isan households. It continues to serve as an important regional language and a badge of Isan (hence Lao) identity, but it is experiencing a decline in the advance of Thai


Religion

Religion in Laos is highly syncretic, and has drawn from three primary sources, although most Lao people claim to be
Theravada Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan inva ...
Buddhists, many traditions are derived from Animist practices.


Buddhism

Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
(, พระพุทธศาสนา, ) is the most popular and state religion in Laos, practised by 67% of the country, and nearly all of the ethnic Lao. The numbers may be much higher, as Buddhism has also influenced many other ethnic groups that are generally considered
animist Animism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...
. It is also the predominant religion of
Isan Northeast Thailand or Isan (Isan language, Isan/ th, อีสาน, ; lo, ອີສານ; also written as Isaan, Isarn, Issarn, Issan, Esan, or Esarn; from Pali ''īsānna'' or Sanskrit ईशान्य ''īśānya'' "northeast") consist ...
and most of the nations beyond Laos' frontiers. Of these, most are of the Therevada Sect (, เถรวาท, ) although historical influences of
Mahayana Buddhism Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhism, Buddhist traditions, Buddhist texts#Mahāyāna texts, texts, Buddhist philosophy, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India (c. 1st century BCE on ...
remain and it is the main sect of
Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia ** A citizen of Vietnam. See Demographics of Vietnam. * Vietnamese people, or Kinh people, a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to Vietnam ** Oversea ...

Vietnamese
and
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...

Chinese
minorities that have settled amongst the Lao and it has become syncretic with animistic practices. The temple in a Lao community is the centre of community affairs, where villagers gather to discuss concerns or ask monks for their wisdom and guidance, and most men are expected to enter the monastery at some point to further their religious knowledge and make merit. Paramount to religious living are the five Buddhist
precepts A precept (from the la, præcipere, to teach) is a wikt:commandment, commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authority, authoritative rule of action. Religious law In religion, precepts are usually commands respecting morality, moral con ...
(, , เบญจศีล, ), viz., to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication. Lao cultural and behavioural traits that stem from Buddhist belief include tolerance, respect for elders and family hierarchy, selflessness, detachment to worldly good and concerns, caring for younger siblings, politeness, self-negation, and modesty. Basic beliefs include re-incarnation and
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. For the believers in spirituality the term also refers to the Spirituality, spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principl ...

karma
. Important holidays related to Buddhism include Boun Phra Vet (, บุญพระเวส, ),
Magha PujaMagha (māgha, माघ or maghā, मघा) may refer to: * Magha (month) Maagha ( Hindi: माघ ''maagh'') is a month of the Hindu calendar The Hindu calendar or Panchang refers to a set of various lunisolar calendars that are tradit ...

Magha Puja
(, มาฆบูชา), Songkhan (, สงกรานต์),
Vesak Vesak (Pali: Vesākha, sa, Vaiśākha, සිංහල: වෙසක්), also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day, is a holiday traditionally observed by Buddhism, Buddhists in South Asia and Southeast Asia as well as Tib ...
(, วิสาขบูชา),
Vassa The ''Vassa'' ( pi, vassa-, script=Latn, sa, varṣa-, script=Latn, both "rain") is the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada Theravāda (; Pali, Pāli, lit. "School of the Thero, Elders", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थवि ...
(, วันเข้าพรรษา), Wan Awk Pansa ( วันออกพรรษา), Kathina, (, กฐิน). In addition to these days, the Buddhist sabbath days (, วันพระ, ), during the phases of the moon, and temple fairs are also regular times to visit the temples, pray, ask advice of the monks for spiritual concerns, and donate food, money, or help out with temple chores, known in Lao as ''tambun'' (, ทำบุญ, ).


Laotian folk religion

Laotian folk religion is the indigenous religion of most of the
Mon–Khmer The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and southern China. There are around 117 million speakers of Austroasi ...
and more recent Hmong–Mien and Tibeto-Burman minorities, as well as the traditional religion of the Tais before Buddhism, although some Tai tribes to this day are still folk religious. For the ethnic Lao, animism has become interwoven with Buddhism and some Hindu elements. Despite suppression at various points in time, it continues to be a large part of Lao religious tradition. A variety of gods ( ผี, ) are worshiped as tutelary deity, tutelary deities of buildings or territories, of natural places, things or phenomena; they are also ancestral spirits and other spirits that protect people, and include malevolent spirits. Guardian deities of places, such as the ''phi wat'' (, ผีวัด) of temples and the ''lak mueang'' (, หลักเมือง, ) of towns are celebrated with communal gatherings and offerings of food. Gods of Hindu derivation are included in the pantheon. Gods are ubiquitous, and some of them are connected with the universal elements: heaven, earth, fire, and water. Lao people also believe in thirty-two spirits known as ''khwan'' (, ขวัญ, ) that protect the body, and ''baci'' ( , บายศรี, ) ceremonies are undertaken during momentous occasions or times of anxiety to bind the spirits to the body, as their absence is believed to invite illness or harm. Spirit houses, while common in Thailand are rare in Laos, owing to prohibitions on the worship of spirits in the reign of King Photisarath (16th century). In modern Laos, to a very limited extent the practice of spirit houses has been reimported from Thailand. Offerings of flowers, incense, and candles are given, and the spirits are consulted during changes or times of hardness for protection and assistance. Natural deities include those that reside in trees, mountains, or forests. Guardian spirits of people often include ancestors or angelic-beings who arrive at various points in life, better known as ''thewada''. Malevolent spirits include those of people who were bad in past lives or died of tragic deaths, such as the ghastly ''phi pob'' (, ผีปอบ) and the vampirical ''phi dip'' (, ผีดิบ). The ''phi'' also include the indigenous, non-Hindu gods, the ''phi thaen'' (, ผีแถน). ''Mophi'' (mo-phi หมอผี), "tellers", are locally trained shamans, specialists in the rituals and in communication with their personal spirits and gods in general. Using trances, sacred objects imbued with supernatural power, or ''saksit'', possessions, and rituals like ''lam phi fa'' (, ลำผีฟ้า, ) or ''baci'', the shaman is often consulted during times of trouble, hauntings, and illness or other misfortune that might be caused by malevolent or unhappy spirits. They are also usually present during religious festivals.


Hinduism

Hinduism was the primary influence over much of the Khmer Empire, and examples of Hindu themes can be found on their temples from that era such as Vat Phou. Temples were often built over the sites of ancient Hindu shrines, and statues or motifs of Hindu gods are commonly found outside temples. Although important influences can be traced to Hindu rituals, the Lao people are not as overtly influenced by Hinduism as their neighbours the Thai people, Tai Thai. The Lao have adopted and adapted the Ramayana into the local version, known as Phra Lak Phra Lam, Phra Lak Phra Ram (, พระลักษมณ์พระราม, ). The Lao version was interwoven with the Lao creation myth and is also, mistakenly, thought of as a Jataka story so is held in high esteem. Many court dances were based on the events of the story. Hinduism blended easily into both animism and Buddhism, so many Hindu gods are considered ''phi thaen'' and Buddhist monks have incorporated much of Brahmanic rituals. Peculiar to Lao people are reverence for Nāgas, snake-like demigods that rule the waterways.


Culture


Lao cuisine

The cuisine of Laos is similar to other regional cuisines such as Thai cuisine, Thai and Cambodian cuisine, Cambodian cuisines, but has several unique distinguishing traits. Lao cuisine's most famous dishes are larb and green ''Papaya salad'', both originated in Laos. The cuisines of the Lao in Laos and Isan have diverged only minutely, with the key differences is that Lao cuisine lacks the influences of Thai cuisine and Isan cuisine lacks many of the French cuisine, French influences in Laos. Rice is the staple, and the main variety is glutinous rice or ''khao nio'' (, ข้าวเหนียว, ), which is also a feature on Isan and Northern Thailand, Northern Thai tables since both have been influenced by Lao cuisine. Although sometimes replaced by noodles or other, less popular varieties of rice, it is commonly served with an accompaniment of various dips and sauces, raw vegetables, and several dishes that are shared together. Many dishes are very spicy, fiered by the numerous varieties of chili peppers and made pungent by the strong herbs and fermented fish sauces. The tropical climate and mountainous areas gives Laos a wide variety of climates and also a rich bounty of edibles, so much of traditional Lao cuisine is composed of vegetables and herbs gathered from the wild, weeds from the rice fields, as well as vegetable plots. A rich plethora of vegetable and fruit varieties are grown, including cucumbers, gourds, cabbage, snakebeans, winged beans, yams, water spinach, mangoes, pomelos, papayas, and sugarcane. Raw vegetables often accompany a meal to help cool the tongue. The most popular meat is freshwater fish, which is also used to make two flavourings, fish sauce (, ; ''Nampla'') and padaek (, ; ''Pla ra''). Other common meats include pork, chicken, duck, beef, eggs, water buffalo. Protein intake includes a wide range of delicacies, including lizards, insects, frogs, and wild deer that also come from the forests. Common beverages are tea, coffee, and alcohol, including the native rice wine, ''lao lao'' (, เหล้าลาว, ). The cuisine is noted for its use of mint and dill, relatively rare in surrounding cuisines. Laos has been generally a very rural country, and most of the people support themselves by agriculture, with rice being the most important crop. As inhabitants of river valleys and lowlands that have been long-settled, ethnic Lao do not practise Slash-and-burn, swidden agriculture like upland peoples. The traditional folk music is ''lam lao'' (, ลำลาว, ), although it is also known as morlam (Lao: , หมอลำ, ) which is the preferred term in Isan, Isan language. Artists from
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
are also popular in Laos and vice versa, which has re-enforced Lao culture in Isan despite heavy
Thaification Image:Lanna cm2.jpg, 300px, A name board on a wat in Chiang Mai written in the Tai Tham alphabet ("Lan Na alphabet", ). The use of this script was discouraged and the Northern Thai language is now written with the Thai alphabet. Thaification, or Th ...
. The music is noted for the use of the khene (Lao: , Isan: แคน, ) instrument.Taylor, J.L. (1993). ''Forest Monks and the Nation-State: An Anthropological and Historical Study in Northeastern Thailand.'' Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.


See also

*Canadians of Laotian descent *Laotian American *Laotians in France


References


Other sources


Lao settlement patterns in the U.S.Reports on languages spoken in Laos and Thailand, from Ethnologue.com
*Thongchai Winichakul. ''Siam Mapped''. University of Hawaii Press, 1984. *Wyatt, David. ''Thailand: A Short History'' (2nd edition). Yale University Press, 2003. *Xaixana Champanakone "Lao Cooking and The Essence of Life". Vientiane Publishing 2010.


External links


Lao Government



Lao people/culture/issues
{{DEFAULTSORT:Lao People Tai peoples Ethnic groups in Vietnam