Lao history in brief


In March 2005, Lao PDR had a total population of 5.62 million of which 2.82 million were females and 2.80 million were males.

  Ethnic Group  
In the Census, Lao citizens were asked about their ethnicity. The Census identified 49 different ethnic groups.

In most provinces a few ethnic groups make most of the population – Lao in Vientiane Capital, Vientiane Province, Xayaboury, Khammuane, Savannakhet, Saravane and Champasack, Akha, Khmou and Singsily in Phongsaly, Akha and Khmou in Luangnamtha, Khmou in Oudomxay, Khmou, Lue, Lao, Hmong and Lamed in Bokeo, Khmou, Lao and Hmong in Luangprabang, Tai, Lao and Hmong in Huaphanh, Lao and Hmong in Xiengkhuang, Tai and Lao in Borikhamxay, Katu, Triang and Harak in Sekong, Lao, Oy and Brao in Attapeu and Hmong, Lao and Khmou in Xaysomboon SR.

The population consists of 49 ethic groups, in four main linguistic families, according to preliminary figures given to a symposium on the names of ethnic groups on 13 -14 August 2000.

1. The Lao-Tai family includes eight groups: Lao, Phouthai, Tai, Lue, Gnouane, Young, Saek, and Thai Neua.
2. The Mone-Khmer family has 32 ethnic groups, which include Khmu, Pray, Singmou, Khom, Thene, Idou, Bid, Lamed, Samtao, Katang, Makong, Try, Trieng, Ta-oi, Yeh, Brao, Harak, Katou, Oi, Krieng, Yrou, Souai, Gnaheune, Lavy, Kabkae, Khmer, Toum, Ngouane, Meuang, and Kri.
3. The Tibeto-Burmese family includes seven ethnic groups: Ahka, Singsali, Lahou, gila, Hayi, Lolo and Hor.
4. The Hmong-Ioumien category has two main tribes: Hmong and Ioumien (Yao). These multiethnic people of Laos are generally scattered across the country, while each has its own unique traditions, culture and language.

  Intercensal Population size and Growth during 1995 - 2005  
Since the last census taken in March 1995 the population has grown by 1 047 000 persons or by 2.1 percent per year. This is slightly more than the corresponding 991 000 during the previous intercensal period (1985-95). The intercensal period 1995-2005 has witnessed negative net-migration, i.e., more persons have emigrated than immigrated. Persons who had been absent from their usual place of residence for more than six months were not counted in the census.

Intercensal population increase is the difference between two neighboring censuses. In the absence of significant migration in and out of the country, intercensal population increase becomes the same as the natural increase, the difference between births and deaths during the period. Analysis of the population growth rate is given in chapter 9 which deals with population projections. The enumerated population in 2005 is in good agreement with the forecasts made in connection with analysis of the 1995 Lao population census.

  Age and Sex Composition  
The age-distribution mirrors past variability in fertility, mortality and migration. The age and sex-distribution is often illustrated by means of a population pyramid. The age-pyramid of Lao PDR continues to be broadly based; a characteristic of a young population. About 50 percent of the population is currently younger than 20 years. Compared to 1995 census, the proportion aged less than 15 years has declined (from 44 to 39 percent). At the same time the population at working ages, both male and females, has increased by about 4 percent.

  Age and-Sex Distributions in the 1995 and 2005 Population Censuses  

  Marital Status  
The census pointed to 38 percent being married, 57 percent never married, 1 percent divorced/separated and 3 percent widowed. There were small differences among provinces. The marital status changes since the 1995 Census are small both at the national and provincial levels.

Because children up to age 14 rarely are married, it is convenient to study marital status for those aged 15 and over. There are e.g., more divorced and widowed females than males. Larger proportions of women than men were not remarried after they had lost their spouse or separated. The higher percentages of single men than single women in the younger age groups may have several explanations such as men tending to marry at later ages than women. But there may also be some reporting errors among women reflecting reluctance to reveal marital status.

The majority, 99.6 percent, was Lao citizens. Vietnamese were 0.2 percent. Other citizens amounted to less than 0.1 percent of the total population.

The leading religion was Buddhism which presented 67 percent. About 85 000 or 1.5 percent declared themselves as Christians. Muslim and Bahai represented less than 1 percent. Animism was not regarded as a religion and was included in “Other” which accounted for about 30.9 percent of the population.