Every year, thousands of people from all over the world come to Canada to start a new life. They come with many different skills and with the hope of contributing to their new society. This cultural profile was written to help Canadians welcome Laotian immigrants to Canada. It will tell you something about the Laotian people and what life is like in their original home. This information will be useful if you are hosting a Laotian family as part of the HOST Program, learning about Laos in school or working with Laotian colleagues who have recently settled in Canada.

 In the past two decades, thousands of Laotians have moved to Canada, many as refugees fleeing wars in Indochina. Most have settled in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. There are currently about 34,000 Laotians in Canada.

Many aspects of Canadian culture will seem strange to Laotian newcomers. But there will also be many similarities between the two cultures. Laotians will have many of the same concerns that you would have if you moved to another country. For instance, they will need information about employment, access to affordable housing, health care and education. You can help them adjust by answering their questions. You can also learn a lot from Laotians.

 Although this cultural profile provides insight into some customs, it does not cover all facets of life. The customs described may not apply in equal measure to all newcomers from Laos.

  Did you know?
Laos was once known as Lan Xang, meaning "the Kingdom of a Million Elephants." It was given the name by King Fa Ngum in 1353. The country was renamed Laos during the French colonial period, because the dominant ethnic group is called Lao.
  Summary Fact Sheet

Official Name Lao People's Democratic Republic 
Capital Vientiane
Type of Government Communist
Population 5.4 million
Area 236,800 sq. km
Major Ethnic Groups Lao Loum, Lao Theung, Lao Soung
Languages Lao and Lao dialects, French, English
Religion Buddhism, traditional spirit religions
Unit of Currency Kip
National Flag Three horizontal bands of red, blue and red, with a white circle on the central blue band
Date of Independence October 22, 2021