List of ethnic groups in Laos

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The following is a list of ethnic groups within Laos.


Specialists are largely in agreement as to the ethnolinguistic classification of the ethnic groups of Laos.[1] For the purposes of the 1995 census, the government of Laos recognized 149 ethnic groups within 47 main ethnicities.[1] whereas the Lao Front for National Construction (LFNC) recently revised the list to include 49 ethnicities consisting of over 160 ethnic groups.[1]

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.[1] These 160 ethnic groups speak a total of 82 distinct living languages.[2]




  • Khmu (population of 389,694 in Laos)[2]
  • Khuen (population of approximately 8,000 in Laos)[2]
  • Mal (population of 23,200 in Laos)[2]
  • Mlabri (population of 24 in Laos,[2] also known as the Yumbri)
  • O'du[2]
  • Phai (population of 15,000 in Laos)[2]
  • Xinh Mul (population of 3,164 in Laos, including Phong-Kniang and Puoc, also known as the Sing Mun)[5]



Tai and Rau[edit]



Below are some ethnic groups of Laos who speak unclassified languages, listed roughly from north to south.[8] District codes are also given (see districts of Laos).

Unclassified languages of Laos
Ethnolinguistic group Population Possible linguistic affiliation Locations
Poumong 1,000  ? Boun-Tai (2-07) and Khoa (2-03) districts, southern Phongsali Province
Pouhoy 200 (1995; 35 families)[6] Oy, Katuic? Kang Village, Namo District (4-03), northern Oudomxai Province
Taket <1000[6] Austro-Asiatic?[6] Nambak District (6-05), Luang Prabang Province
Tamoy 500 (< 15 villages) Palaungic, Khmuic? Viangphoukha District (3-04), Luang Namtha Province
Nguan 30,000 Lametic, Palaungic? Nale (3-05), Viangphoukha (3-04), and Luang Namtha (3-01) districts of Luang Namtha Province, near the Khuen, Lamet, and Khmu Rok peoples; also in Houayxay District (5-01), Bokeo Province
Salao 800 Ethnic Lao[6] Pakxong District (16-04), Champasak Province

See also[edit]