General demographic characteristics    

People are undeniably a country’s most precious resource. Therefore, since long it has been of crucial interest to know their numbers, but also  main characteristics regarding age, sex, place of residence, etc. It is believed that the first Census in Laos was taken as early as 1377 when the then King got his name Samsenthai “300,000 men” (GOL, 2005, (b)). In 1922 the number of Laotians was estimated as 800,000. A census carried out for the whole of Laos in 1959-61 revealed that there were 1.9 million Laotians in the country. As of 1985, the census has become part of the governmental strategy to collect statistics and it will be carried out every 10 years. The information depicted in this Atlas will hence remain the most recent information covering the totality of Lao population until the next Census in 2015.

The Population and Housing Census 2005 (GoL, 2006) shows that on March 1st 2005 Lao PDR had a total population of 5.6 million persons. Out of these 50.1 percent were females and 49.9 percent were males. The age pyramid of Lao PDR continues to have a very broad base – a characteristic of a young population with 50 percent of the population being currently younger than 20 years. The absolute increase of population between 1995 and 2005 was 1.04 million people corresponding to an annual growth of 2.1 percent. Population projections foresee a continued growth of the population up to 7.3 million people by 2020.

The following section presents detailed results of the 2005 Population and Housing Census. For the first time it is possible to observe this population data not only with the high resolution of village aggregates, but also by its spatial distribution. The section, therefore, starts with a detailed map on population density and absolute distribution of people. It then analyses the structure of the population in terms of age, dependency and sex ratios. Finally, information on marital status and household size are presented.