Laotians in France

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Laotians in France
Total population
(140,000 (2012 est.)[1])
Regions with significant populations
Paris,[2] Marseille, Lille, Strasbourg
French (standard and Lao variant), Lao
Theravada Buddhism[3]
Related ethnic groups
Laotian diaspora, Asians in France

Laotians in France consist of people of Lao ancestry who were born in or immigrated to France. The population as of 2012 is estimated to be 140,000.[1]

The Laotian community in France forms the most established overseas Laotian population, with a presence in the country dating to before the end of the Laotian Civil War and mass refugee migration that resulted from it.[4]


The presence of Laotian people in France began during the early 20th century, when Laos was a protectorate of France. With the steady introduction of the French education system by the colonists, a number of Laotian students were able to study in France, including members of the Lao Royal Family.[5] A smaller number of Laotian workers also settled in France during this period. However, the largest influx of Laotians immigrated to France following the Vietnam War and communist takeover of their homeland.

France was an ideal destination for Laotian refugees who were educated or formed part of the elite and middle class in the home nation, while poorer refugees tended to emigrate to North America and Australia through the assistance of the American, Canadian and Australian governments.[6]

Culture and demographics[edit]

Unlike their counterpart communities in the United States, Canada and Australia, Laotians in France are more successful and better integrated into the host country due to stronger knowledge of the nation's social aspects, such as culture, language and history.[7] Although the issue of immigrant groups and their level of assimilation has been an important issue in French politics, the Laotian community is highly integrated into French society, with high average rates of educational and economic achievement, especially among the generations of French-born Lao.[8]

Laotian Buddhist temples serve as community and cultural centers for the Laotian population in France, and important traditional holidays such as Lao New Year and the Pha That Luang Festival are observed in addition to French holidays.[9]

The majority of Laotians in France live in Paris and the surrounding Île-de-France region, with smaller communities in Marseille, Lille and Strasbourg. While the generation of immigrants to France tries to preserve Laotian culture and uses the Lao language among the community, the first and second generations born in France are increasingly influenced by French culture, with many members of the generations being unable to understand or speak Lao.[7]

Notable individuals[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Présentation du Laos, France: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2013, retrieved 2013-06-22 
  2. ^ Bouvier & Smith 2006, p. 47
  3. ^ "Lao Buddhist organisations in France", World Buddhist Directory, Buddha Dharma Education Association, 2006, retrieved 2010-11-11 
  4. ^ Carine Hahn, Le Laos, Karthala, 1999, page 77
  5. ^ Hahn 1999, p. 77
  6. ^ Knowledge of Immigrant Nationalities of Santa Clara County (KIN) - Laos
  7. ^ a b "Life in a foreign city can be difficult but Lao culture still prevails", Lao Voices, 7 January 2012, archived from the original on 2013-03-15, retrieved 2013-06-22 
  8. ^ La jeunesse lao de France, quelle identité? (in French)
  9. ^ Nouvel an Lao (in French)


Further reading[edit]