Lao in United States

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Lao belong to the Tai linguistic group, which began migrating southward from China in the first millennium after Christ, and which now politically and culturally dominate other Laotian groups.

Many Laotians came to America as refugees after the Vietnam War. Others left Laos after it became a communist country in 1975. Most American people are unaware that tens of thousands of Laotians died as a result of US bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that ran through Laos. Some Laotians have come to the USA in recent decades seeking freedom and a better life for their children.

Many Laotian Americans live in southern California. Others live in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Fort Worth, TX and in the Sacramento and Seattle regions.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Even after being in the USA for decades, many Laotian Americans live below the poverty level. Most first generation Lao work menial jobs years after coming to the USA. Many leave high school before graduating to help support their families. However, most Lao parents want their children to get a good education so they can make more money than they did. Laotian extended families depend on one another, and there is a very low divorce rate for Laotian marriages.

Older adults do not learn more than just the rudiments of English. An online magazine,, gives stories of Laotian Americans who have succeeded in their new land. Some of them have achieved renown in the sport of badminton.

Laotian Americans speak Lao at home and English on the job or at school. Some second and third generation Lao speak English at home and with their family.

Lao cuisine is noted for being spicy, but it has not caught on like Thai food. They eat a lot of fish, rice and vegetables.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most Laotians continue in their Buddhist and animistic beliefs. They attend Buddhist temples on a regular basis. Some Laotians have become secular and no long participate in Buddhist rituals, but still celebrate Buddhist holidays as part of their cultural heritage. Buddhism allows people to mix Buddhist teachings with folk religion.

Two of the important Buddhist yearly holidays are Vesak, the Buddha's birthday celebrated in May or June and Bodhi Day, the holiday in December or January which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.

What Are Their Needs?

Laotian Americans need to see the love of Christ demonstrated to them in practical ways. Many would benefit by becoming more proficient in English and in gaining new job skills. Most of all, they must understand their personal sin and their need for the savior. Christ alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray that Laotian Americans develop a spiritual hunger for the things of the true God of the Bible. Pray that believers will reach out and share the good news with the American Laotians. Pray that the Lao will be moved of God to read the Bible in their heart language. Pray the Lord raises up a church planting movement among the Lao in the US.

Scripture Prayers for the Lao in United States.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Lao
People Name in Country Lao
Pronunciation lao
Alternate Names Eastern Thai; Lào; Lao Boc; Lao Noi; Lao Wiang; Lao-Lu; Lao-Noi; Laotian Tai; Laotian Thai; Lum Lao; Phou Lao; Rong Kong; Tai Lao; Ts'un Lao
Population this Country 216,000
Population all Countries 4,008,000
Total Countries 11
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 4
People ID 12989
ROP3 Code 105643
ROP25 Code 304598
ROP25 Name Lao
Country United States
Region America, North and Caribbean
Continent North America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country United States
Region America, North and Caribbean
Continent North America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
60.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.50 %)
4.00 %
Ethnic Religions
33.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
3.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Lao (216,000 speakers)
Language Code lao   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Lao (216,000 speakers)
Language Code lao   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Lao

Primary Language:  Lao

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1906-1967)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1926-1973)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1932-2012)
FCBH NT ( Online
YouVersion NT ( Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Lao Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
Film / Video The Hope Video Mars Hill Media
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions Got Questions Ministry
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Four Spiritual Laws Campus Crusade for Christ
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
General Zume Resources Zume Project
General Zume Training Zume Project
Mobile App Android Bible app: Lao YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Lao YouVersion Bibles
Text / Printed Matter Literacy primer for Lao Literacy & Evangelism International
Text / Printed Matter Tools for faith conversations Campus Crusade for Christ
Text / Printed Matter Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies World Missionary Press
Photo Source Cambodia Research Network 
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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