Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Laos shares borders with Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and China. Laos has a number of rivers running through it and the abundance of fish contribute to the Laotian subsistence economy.
Population: 7 million
Ethnic Groups: Lao (53.2%), Khmou (11%), Hmong (9.2%), Phouthay (3.4%), Tai (3.1%), Makong (2.5%), Katong (2.2%), Lue (2%), Akha (1.8%), Other (11.6%)
Languages: Lao (Official), French, English, Other (Ethnic languages)
Religions: Buddhist (64.7%), Christian (1.7%), None (31.4%), Other/Not Stated (2.1%)
CIA: The World Factbook - Last Updated July 11, 2017
In Canada: 24,575
In the GTA: 4,205
In Toronto: 1,260
Primary Areas of Settlement in the GTA (Social Atlas):
Brampton, Aurora, Newmarket, Caledon, and East Gwillimbury.
Laos became independent from France in 1954. Communist forces gained total control by 1975 and persecuted Christians. Two-thirds of Laotian Christians fled while the rest were forced to meet in secret. The Communists did not try to eliminate Buddhism, but instead tried to manipulate it for political purposes. Many monks refused to comply and either fled or quit. Religious restrictions have since eased up, but Christians are still targets of persecution despite the fact that Christianity is one of the four recognized religions in Laos. On the other hand, Buddhism has largely been revived. The Communist Party continues to have full political control (Laos is one of few communist countries left in the world). However, there has been some economic liberalization.