Laos is South-East Asia’s only landlocked nation and is distinguished by a very mountainous area in the north and small area of lowland in the south. More than half of the country is covered in thick rainforests and wild animals are plentiful, including the elephant, panther, leopard, and tiger. The mighty Mekong River flows through most of the country following along the Thai border.
About the Poverty
Living conditions are poor with a 10.3% infant mortality rate and a life expectancy of 47 for men, 50 for women. Many urban areas lack modern sewerage and water facilities. In Laos there are approx. 118 ethnic groups including one of Asia’s smallest Muslim communities of about 500 Muslims who live in the capital, Vientiane.
Ranging from a diverse ethnic heritage, the largest Muslim community are descendants from Tamils on the Indian subcontinent. Tamil Muslims found their way to Laos via Vietnam during the French colonial period. In addition, a small number are descendants from French Legionnaires who were originally recruited from (French) North Africa. Others come from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The oldest and best known mosque is the Jama Mosque, or Congregational Mosque. The Imam is Haji Moulavi Kamarudeen Noori, who comes from Madras, India.
Smaller Muslim communities in Laos
The smaller Muslim community arrived as refugees from Cambodia in 1975. The Cham community is small, comprising of approx. 200 people. Almost all the Cham Muslims live in the working-class district of Chantabouli, northwest of the city centre. The Cham built their mosque in 1976, known as The Azhar Mosque or Masjid Cambodia. Imam Musa Abubakr is the elderly spiritual leader of Lao’s Cham.
Most of Vientiane’s Muslim community make their living by trading textiles, fishing or butchering meat for restaurants. The ethnic heritage of the Muslim communities is reflected in the south Indian Muslim restaurants and others serving North African meals of couscous and kebabs.
There is also a very small community in the mountainous region of Laos where Chinese Muslims have traditionally traded between those living in the valley along the Mekong.
Pray for the Muslims of Laos
* Pray for this small but diverse ethnic group of Muslims living in Laos. Pray for Christian business men to have opportunities to share the Gospel with them.
* Pray for the Tamil, Cham and North African Muslims to have an open heart to hear and receive the message of Jesus.
* Pray for Christians around the world to obey God’s leading as He calls them to go and serve these people with His love and the Good News of Jesus.
* Pray for Muslims in Laos to have a revelation of Jesus and the transforming power of the Cross, and a strong effective Christian community to emerge.
Background on Laos (World Factbook)
Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th Century under King FA NGUM. For three hundred years Lan Xang included large parts of present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the control of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1986. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997.
Population: 6,586,266 (July 2012 est.) World rank #102
Life Expectancy at Birth: 62.77 years. World rank #180
Ethnic groups: Lao 55%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 8%, other (over 100 minor ethnic groups) 26%
Religions: Buddhist 67%, Christian 1.5%, other and unspecified 31.5%
Languages: Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages
Literacy: 73% — Male: 83%, Female: 63%
School life expectancy: 9 years
Poverty in Laos – Video
Meet Kaisong, a typical girl from Laos (in South East Asia). She has dreams like everyone else but she’s got a day-to-day battle infront of her just to survive.