Religion

Buddhism first appeared in Laos during the eighth century A.D. as shown by both the Buddha image and the stone inscription found at Ban Talat near Vientiane , now exhibited at the Museum of Hoprakao.

Today Theravada Buddhism is the professed religion of about 90 of Lao people. Buddhism is an inherent feature of daily life and casts a strong influence on Lao society. Lao woman can be seen each morning giving alms to monks, earring merit to lessen the number of their rebirth. Lao men are expected to be come a monk for at least a short time in their lives. Traditionally they spent three months during the rainy season in a Wat. A Buddhist temple. But nowadays most men curtail their stay to one or two weeks.

After the foundation of the unified Kingdom of Lane Xang , King Fan gum (14th century) declared. Buddhism as the state religion and urged the people to the abandon animism or other beliefs such as the cult of spirits. His policy meant to develop the Laos culture based on a common faith: the Theravada Buddhism.

Laos has a total population of 4.6 million, 13 of whom live in Vientiane province. People share a rich ethnic diversity, comprising such groups Hmong, Khmu, Yao , Akha, Lu etc. Most of them have kept their own customs; dialects and traditional dress in total 47 different groups are accounted for in Laos. These can be classified into three broad groups:

· The Lao Lum (lowlanders) who make up 70 of the population and predominantly live Mekong River .

· The Lao Theung (uplands) who comprise 20 of the population and on the lope and with an elevation of less than 1,000metres.

· The Lao Song (hill tribes) who constitute 10 of the population and live in the mountainous areas.

The population density of Laos amounts to 19 people per square kilometer, a small number compared to the country’s neighbors: 120 people per square kilometer in Thailand ; and 200 people per square kilometer in China .