Samtao in Laos






Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Samtao are thought to be from the Wa tribe. The Samtao converted to Theravada Buddhism from animism. After generations of separation from the Wa animist, the Samtao came with their own language and culture. The Samtao language is related to other Mon-Khmer languages (De'ang, Wa, and Bulang). Over 2,000 Samtao live in Laos.

Where Are they Located?

The Samtao live in China, Laos, and Myanmar. The Samtao of Laos live in the northeast part of the country.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Samtao families may be monogamous or polygamous. To become a polygamous family, the husband must first receive permission from the village leader. In some Samtao families infant marriage is arranged. The Samtao grow crops such as tea, maize, rice, cotton, and sugarcane. The Samatao men often tattoo their limbs and torsos with passages from the Buddhist scriptures.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Samtao practice Theravada Buddhism. It was introduced to their culture 900 years ago. The Samtao practice Buddhism mixed with animism. They revere the spirits of the forest, village, and house and they observe animal rituals. For instance when a Samtao man dies his family calls a chicken to call back the person's soul. The person is then redressed and positioned between two white sheets.

What Are Their Needs?

There are no known Samtao Christians in Laos. There is a great need for the gospel to be lived and preached among these people.

Prayer Points

Pray that even now the Spirit would work in Samtao hearts.
Pray that God would raise up missionaries from neighboring tribes to go to the Samtao.
Pray that the Gospel would reach the Samtao and that it would be received.
Pray that a Samtao church would be birthed.


Profile Source:   Rachel Routt  

People Name General Samtao (Sahm-taow)
People Name in Country Samtao
Population in Laos 4,500
World Population 16,000
Countries 4
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Blang, Bo Kho Pa, Bulang, Col, Con, Kawa, Kem Degne, Kiorr, Kontoi, Lua, Mu Di Pa, Phula, Pula, Pulang, Sam Tao, Samtau, Samtuan, Sen Chun, Xamtao
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Mon-Khmer
People Name General Samtao (Sahm-taow)
Ethnic Code AUG03z
People ID 14680
Country Laos
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 28  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Samtao (4,500)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Samtao 4,500
For Primary Language: Samtao

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Buddhism

Major Religion Percent
90.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
10.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Rachel Routt  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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