Enter the characters you see below Sorry, we just need to make sure you’re not a robot. Laos developed its culture and customs as the inland crossroads of trade and migration in How To Make Money In Laos Asia over millennia. As of 2012 Laos has a population of roughly 6. Laos has an estimated population of 6. The Lao government recognizes 47 distinct ethnicities, which are further sub-divided into 149 subgroups.
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Lao society is traditionally categorized into three broad groups based on ethnicity and location. Lao Theung are culturally distinct from both the Lao Loum and Lao Sung. Laos having arrived in the nineteenth century from southern China and Vietnam. There are over 90 distinct native languages spoken by the different ethnic populations of Laos. As part of the Tai-Kadai language family spoken Thai is similar to Lao, with some distinctions. Theravada Buddhist, which roughly falls along ethnic lines with the majority of practitioners being Lao Loum.
The remainder is largely animist, following their unique ethnic traditions and practices. Theravada Buddhism is central to Lao cultural identity. Traditionally in Laos males would become novice monks at some point in their lives, giving them the opportunity to gain both an education and religious merit. Animist traditions are also very strong in Laos with the belief in traditional spirits being a common cultural tie among the Lao Loum, Lao Theung and Lao Sung although such beliefs are strictly organized according to local traditions. Collectively the Lao belief in spirits is referred to as Satsana Phi. The phi which are guardian deities of places, or towns are celebrated at festivals with communal gatherings and offerings of food.
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Phi were believed to influence natural phenomena including human illness and so appealing to the phi became an important part of Lao identity and religious health over the millennia. Astrology was a vital part to understanding the natural and spiritual worlds and became an important cultural means to enforce social taboos and customs. Traditionally the Lao Loum also believed that ancient mythical serpents known as ngueak inhabited major waterways, carving out the surrounding countryside and protecting key points along rivers or other bodies of water. The earliest name for the Mekong River was Nam Nyai Ngu Luang or “Great River of the Giant Serpent.
Lao social structures are comparatively simpler than in neighboring Cambodia or Thailand, which is a logical outgrowth considering the ethnic diversity of Laos. Lao Theung and Lao Sung groups were outside the traditional class structures, but together made up a large portion of the population. Traditionally the king was at the apex of secular and religious authority, as both the head of the sangha and his saksit power in animist beliefs. Since the King of Laos was deposed in 1975, there were early attempts to downplay the importance of the monarchy and replace or alter many religious traditions and holidays.
In recent years there has been renewed interest in the monarchy but from a nationalistic perspective, in a similar model to China since the 1990s. Buddhist concept of dharma which emphasizes personal moral duty. Buddhist principles encourage stoic indifference and quiet reserve in dealing with disagreements. Traditional Lao are conservative about their appearance and personal space. Lao people are also generally sensitive about physical contact. The head is considered as sacred, whereas the left hand and feet are ritually unclean.
In keeping with social status it is expected that younger people slightly bow or keep their heads lower than elders or clergy. Except among a parent child relationship it is considered condescending to touch a Lao person’s head. The typical Lao greeting is the nop which is similar to the wai in Thailand or the satu in Cambodia, and is based on the Indic Añjali Mudrā. Special social attention is paid to monks and religious items. Touching a Buddha image or animist shrine is always offensive.