People in Laos

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Hill Tribe Women - Luang Prabang

Hill Tribe Women - Luang Prabang

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Laos has more different tribes and languages than any other country in Asia. More than 60 minority tribes live in small communities scattered though out the country. Laos has avoided the ethnic turmoil that has beset many countries and trade and marriages are common between ethnic minority groups.

Laotians can be divided in three main groupings: the wet rice cultivating Buddhist Lao Loum of the lowlands, constituting over half of the population; the Lao Theung living in the lower regions of the mountains (25% of the population) and the Lao Soung living in the highlands.

In 1994 the population reached 4.5 million. Over 75% of the population are below the age of 25 - living mainly in the rural areas. The country has the lowest density of population in Asia with 17 people per square kilometer.

Population: 5 260 842 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 45% (male 1 205 210; female 1 174 323)

15-64 years: 52% (male 1 318 061; female 1 393 386)

65 years and over: 3% (male 77 388; female 92 474) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.76% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 40.58 births/1 000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 12.97 deaths/1 000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1 000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 91.81 deaths/1 000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 53.7 years

male: 52.13 years

female: 55.34 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.66 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Nationality:

noun: Lao(s) or Laotian(s)

adjective: Lao or Laotian

Ethnic groups: Lao Loum (lowland) 68% Lao Theung (upland) 22% Lao Soung (highland) including the Hmong ("Meo") and the Yao (Mien) 9% ethnic Vietnamese/Chinese 1%

Religions: Buddhist 60% animist and other 40%

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

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 56.6%

male: 69.4%

female: 44.4% (1995 est.)

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