During my participation in the SSEAYP International General Assembly in Vientiane, I had the chance to have an encounter with the various ethnolinguistic groups of people of Laos. They conducted cultural presentations in several occassions during my stay. They did entertaining and colorful performances.
Laos has a population of around 6,700,000 and it is the most ethnically diverse country in mainland Southeast Asia. One third of its population comprises the ethnic Lao dominating the country culturally and economically. It has a total of 160 ethnic groups that speak a total of 82 distinct living languages. They have 49 main ethnicities. They used the term ethnic minorities to refer to non-Lao ethnic groups and the term indigenous peoples is not being used in the country.
The main groups are called Mon-Khmer, Palaungic, Khmuic, Tibeto-Burman, Hmong-Mien and Tai and Rau. The groups Mon-Khmer, Sino-Tibetan and Hmong-Iu Mien families are considered to be the indigenous peoples of Laos although officially all groups have equal status.