Demographics of Laos

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A street market in Luang Prabang.

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Laos, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Laos' population was estimated at about 6.48 million in July 2011, dispersed unevenly across the country. Most people live in valleys of the Mekong River and its tributaries. Vientiane Prefecture, which includes Vientiane, the capital and largest city of the country, had about 569,000 residents in 1999. The country's population density is 23.4/km2.

In March 2005, the total population was 5.62 million (2.82 million females, 2.80 million males) in the 2005 census, an increase of 1.047 million since the previous 1995 census.[1]

Overview[edit]

The demographic makeup of the population is uncertain as the government divides the people into three groups according to the altitude at which they live, rather than according to ethnic origin. The lowland Lao (Lao Loum) account for 68%, upland Lao (Lao Theung) for 22%, and the highland Lao (Lao Soung, including the Hmong and the Yao) for 9%. Ethnic Vietnamese constitutes about 2% of the population.

Ethnic Lao, the principal lowland inhabitants and politically and culturally dominant group, make up the bulk of the Lao Loum and around 60% of the total population. The Lao are a branch of the Tai people who began migrating southward from China in the first millennium A.D. In the north, there are mountain tribes of Miao–Yao, Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burman Hmong, Yao, Akha, and Lahu who migrated into the region in the 19th century. Collectively, they are known as Lao Sung or highland Lao.

In the central and southern mountains, Mon–Khmer tribes known as Lao Theung or upland Lao, predominate. Some Vietnamese and Chinese minorities remain, particularly in the towns, but many left in two waves — after independence in the late 1940s and again after 1975.

The predominant religion is Theravada Buddhism. Animism is common among the mountain tribes. Buddhism and spirit worship coexist easily. There is a small number of Christians and Muslims.

The official and dominant language is Lao, a tonal language of the Tai linguistic group. Midslope and highland Lao speak tribal languages. French, once common in government and commerce, has declined in use, while knowledge of English — the language of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — has increased in recent years.

With a median age of 19.3, Laos has the youngest population of Asia.

Demographics of Laos, number of inhabitants in thousands (FAO data, 2005)
Lao men drinking lauhai (in Lao) or bujkdong (in Khmuic), a type of Lao rice whiskey which is ancient khmuic rice beer.
A primary school in a village in northern rural Laos

Population[edit]

According to the 2010 Revision of the UN World Population Prospects,[2] the population of Laos increased from 1.7 million in 1950 to 6.2 million in 2010. Until the year 2000 the proportion of children 0–14 years of age was over 40% of the total population. Due to decreasing fertility rates this proportion decreased to 34.5% in 2010. The proportion of elderly people is still very low (3.9%), although the proportion doubled between 1950 and 2010.

Total population Population aged 0–14
(%)
Population aged 15–64
(%)
Population aged 65+
(%)
1950 1,683 40.4 57.4 2.1
1955 1,897 41.4 56.2 2.4
1960 2,130 42.1 55.3 2.6
1965 2,391 42.2 54.9 2.9
1970 2 691 41.9 55.0 3.1
1975 3,042 42.1 54.7 3.2
1980 3,235 43.9 52.5 3.5
1985 3,648 44.0 52.4 3.6
1990 4,192 43.7 52.7 3.6
1995 4,795 43.6 52.8 3.6
2000 5,317 42.3 54.0 3.7
2005 5,753 39.1 57.1 3.8
2010 6,201 34.5 61.6 3.9

Structure of the population [3][edit]

Structure of the population (01.03.2005) (Census) :

Age Group Male Female Total %
Total 2 800 551 2 821 431 5 621 982 100
0-4 351 559 349 356 700 915 12,47
5-9 379 137 370 071 749 208 13,33
10-14 391 785 375 371 767 156 13,65
15-19 323 729 323 540 647 269 11,51
20-24 253 926 261 371 515 297 9,17
25-29 211 279 218 330 429 609 7,64
30-34 176 515 183 480 359 995 6,40
35-39 164 415 165 362 329 777 5,87
40-44 132 335 133 532 265 867 4,73
45-49 113 869 113 298 227 167 4,04
50-54 86 770 91 210 177 980 3,17
55-59 62 691 65 640 128 331 2,28
60-64 50 006 55 008 105 014 1,87
65-69 38 289 41 251 79 540 1,41
70-74 27 652 31 927 59 579 1,06
75-79 17 964 19 208 37 172 0,66
80-84 10 402 12 180 22 582 0,40
85-89 4 631 5 697 10 328 0,18
90-94 1 964 2 781 4 745 0,08
95-99 982 1 393 2 375 0,04
100+ 480 936 1 416 0,03
unknown 171 489 660 0,01
Age group Male Female Total Percent
0-14 1 122 481 1 094 798 2 217 279 39,44
15-64 1 575 535 1 610 771 3 186 306 56,68
65+ 102 364 115 373 217 737 3,87

Structure of the population (01.07.2013) (Estimates - based on the results of the 2005 Population and Housing Census) :

Age Group Male Female Total %
Total 3 337 780 3 341 118 6 678 899 100
0-4 485 412 466 533 951 949 14,25
5-9 408 807 398 740 807 547 12,09
10-14 359 236 353 901 713 140 10,68
15-19 379 515 366 895 746 413 11,18
20-24 352 504 342 161 694 664 10,40
25-29 271 288 276 339 547 624 8,20
30-34 214 239 222 247 436 485 6,54
35-39 178 309 185 900 364 211 5,45
40-44 159 916 165 404 325 324 4,87
45-49 144 355 146 599 290 954 4,36
50-54 114 786 117 321 232 108 3,48
55-59 92 398 96 389 188 784 2,83
60-64 63 875 70 467 134 345 2,01
65-69 43 599 49 189 92 790 1,39
70-74 30 776 36 125 66 897 1,00
75-79 19 283 22 873 42 153 0,63
80+ 19 473 24 038 43 509 0,65
Age group Male Female Total Percent
0-14 1 253 455 1 219 174 2 472 629 37,02
15-64 1 971 194 1 989 719 3 960 913 59,30
65+ 113 131 132 225 245 356 3,67

Vital statistics[edit]

UN estimates [2][edit]

Period Live births per year Deaths per year Natural change per year CBR1 CDR1 NC1 TFR1 IMR1
1950-1955 80,000 37,000 43,000 44.8 20.9 23.9 5.94 167.1
1955-1960 87,000 40,000 47,000 43.2 20.1 23.1 5.96 160.1
1960-1965 96,000 44,000 52,000 42.4 19.3 23.1 5.97 153.5
1965-1970 107,000 47,000 60,000 42.3 18.7 23.6 5.98 147.0
1970-1975 122,000 52,000 70,000 42.5 18.1 24.4 5.99 140.5
1975-1980 132,000 54,000 78,000 42.2 17.2 25.0 6.15 132.4
1980-1985 145,000 56,000 90,000 42.2 16.2 26.0 6.36 122.6
1985-1990 165,000 56,000 109,000 42.1 14.4 27.7 6.27 107.6
1990-1995 180,000 53,000 127,000 40.0 11.9 28.1 5.88 88.3
1995-2000 170,000 48,000 122,000 33.6 9.4 24.2 4.81 70.8
2000-2005 154,000 44,000 110,000 27.8 7.9 19.9 3.70 58.2
2005-2010 144,000 39,000 105,000 24.1 6.6 17.5 3.02 44.5
1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births

Fertility and Births[edit]

Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR):[4]

Year CBR (Total) TFR (Total) CBR (Urban) TFR (Urban) CBR (Rural) TFR (Rural)
2011-2012 25 3,2 20 2,2 26 3,6

Ethnic groups[edit]

Further information: List of ethnic groups in Laos
In Luang Prabang, a young woman at the time of a Hmong Meeting Festival.

Specialists are largely in agreement as to the ethnolinguistic classification of the ethnic groups of Laos.[5] For the purposes of the 1995 census, the government of Laos recognized 149 ethnic groups within 47 main ethnicities.[5] whereas the Lao Front for National Construction (LFNC) recently revised the list to include 49 ethnicities consisting of over 160 ethnic groups.[5]

The term ethnic minorities is used by some to classify the non-Lao ethnic groups, while the term indigenous peoples is not used by the Lao PDR.[5] These 160 ethnic groups speak a total of 82 distinct living languages.[6]

Lao 55%, Khmu 11%, Hmong 8%, Vietnamese 2%, other (over 100 minor ethnic groups) 26% (2005 census).

Population of Laos according to ethnic group in 1995, 2005, and 2015
Ethnic
group
Language
family
census 1995[7] census 2005[7] census 2015
Number  % Number  % Number  %
Lao Tai-Kadai 2,403,891 52.5 3,067,005 54.6 3,427,665 53.2
Khmu Mon-Khmer 500,957 11.0 613,893 10.9 708,412 11.0
Hmong Hmong-Mien 315,465 6.9 415,946 8.0 595,028 9.2
Thai (Tai) Tai-Kadai 215,254 3.8 201,576 3.1
Puthai (Phouthay) Tai-Kadai 472,458 10.3 187,391 3.3 218,108 3.4
(Lue) Tai-Kadai 119,191 2.6 123,054 2.2 126,229 2.0
Katang Mon-Khmer 95,440 2.1 118,276 2.1 144,255 2.2
Makong (So) Mon-Khmer 92,321 2.0 117,872 2.1 163,285 2.5
Akha (Kor) Tibeto-Burman 66,108 1.4 90,698 1.6 112,979 1.8
Yrou 56,411 0.9
Xuay (Juk/Suai?) Mon-Khmer 45,498 1.0 42,834 0.8 46,592 0.7
Singsily (Phounoy) Tibeto-Burman 35,635 0.8 37,447 0.7 39,192 0.6
Taoey (Ta-oy) Mon-Khmer 30,876 0.7 32,177 0.6 45,991 0.7
Nhuane or Yuan (Khmu dialect) Mon-Khmer 26,239 0.6 29,442 0.5
Iewmien (Yao) (Ewmien) Hmong-Mien 22,665 0.5 27,449 0.5 32,400 0.5
Phong Mon-Khmer 21,395 0.5 26,314 0.5 30,696 0.5
Brao (Larvae) Mon-Khmer 17,544 0.4 22,772 0.4 26,010 0.4
Katu Mon-Khmer 17,024 0.4 22,759 0.4 28,378 0.4
Oey (Oy or Oi) Mon-Khmer 14,947 0.3 22,458 0.4 23,513 0.4
Pray (Prai) Mon-Khmer 15,000 [6] 0.3 21,922 0.4 28,732 0.4
Lamed (Lamet) Mon-Khmer 16,740 0.3 19,827 0.4 22,383 0.3
Lahu (Musir) Tibeto-Burman 8,702 0.2 15,238 0.3
Lahou 19,187 0.3
Kriang (Ngae) Mon-Khmer 12,189 0.3 12,879 0.2
Griang 16,807 0.2
Hor 8,900 0.2 10,437 0.2 12,098 0.2
Xingmoon (Puoc, Xingmoun) Mon-Khmer 5,834 0.1 8,565 0.2 9,874 0.2
Jeng (Cheng) Mon-Khmer 6,511 0.1 7,559 0.1 8,688 0.1
Nhahem (Nyaheun) Mon-Khmer 5,152 0.1 6,785 0.1
Ngaheun 8,976 0.1
Kmer (Khmer) Mon-Khmer 3,902 0.1 5,825 0.1 7,141 0.1
Toum (Hung) Mon-Khmer 2,510 0.05 4,458 0.08 3,632 0.05
Xaek (Saek) Tai-Kadai 2,745 0.06 3.733 0.07 3,841 0.05
Samtao Mon-Khmer 2,213 0.05 3,533 0.06 3,417 0.05
Sila (Sida) (Syla) Tibeto-Burman 1,772 0.04 2,939 0.05 3,151 0.05
Tri 20,906 0.5 2,668 0.05 37,446 0.6
Harak (Alak, Alack) Mon-Khmer 16,594 0.4 2,128 0.04 25,430 0.4
Bid (Bit) Mon-Khmer 1,509 0.03 1,691 0.03 2,372 0.04
Lolo Tibeto-Burman 1,407 0.03 1,691 0.03 2,203 0.03
Pako (Pacoh) Mon-Khmer 13,224 0.3 1,675 0.03 22,640 0.4
Lavy Mon-Khmer 538 0.01 1,193 0.02 1,215 0.02
Yae Mon-Khmer 8,013 0.2 1,057 0.02 11,452 0.2
Sadang (Sedang) Mon-Khmer 786 0.02 938 0.02 898 0.01
Hanyi (Hayi) Tibeto-Burman 1,122 0.02 848 0.02 741 0.01
Nguane 1,344 0.03 722 0.01
Ngoaun 27,779 0.4
Guan 886 0.01
Oedou (Ơ Đu) Mon-Khmer 649 0.01 602 0.01
Yang Tai-Kadai 4,630 0.1 616 0.01 5,843 0.1
Moy 534 0.01 789 0.01
Thin (Mal) Mon-Khmer 23,193 0.51 514 0.01
Kree 739 0.02 495 0.01 1,067 0.02
Laven Mon-Khmer 40,519 0.9
Talieng Mon-Khmer 23,091 0.5
Trieng Mon-Khmer 38,407 0.6
Kui Mon-Khmer 6,268 0.1
Khir 1,639 0.04
Mone 217 0.00
Others & not stated 19,285 0.4 216,780 3.9
Total 4,574,848 5,621,982 6,446,690

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics[edit]

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 62.39 years (2011 est.)
male: 60.50 years (2011 est.)
female: 64.36 years (2011 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
adjective: Lao or Laotian

Religions: Buddhist 67%, Christian 1.5%, other and unspecified 31.5% (see Religion in Laos)

Languages: Lao (official), French, English, Vietnamese, and various ethnic languages

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73%
male: 83%
female: 63% (2005 est.)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]