Tong in Laos

Joshua Project has identified the Tong only in Laos





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

Around 10,000 Tong people live in areas north of Saravan city in Saravan Province of southern Laos. A few Tong also spill over into Vapi District.

Research into the Tong is hampered by the fact they are known by several different names, including. Ong, and Hantong. These different appellations refer to the same group. Some Western mission organizations have listed the Tong under the name of Lower Ta Oi. While it is true the Tong are ethno-historically related to the Ta Oi, the languages of the two groups are now mutually unintelligible. The Tong language is closest to Ir, which is spoken by a group of people in the same general area. Wurm and Hattori, editors of the Language Atlas of the Pacific Area, stated there were a combined total of 10,000 Ir and Tong speakers in 1981.

The Tong are animists. Since time immemorial they have worshipped certain deities and spirit-beings that they believe control the world. Animism often gains such a foothold in the hearts and minds of tribal people in Laos, that few are able to comprehend their need for the Gospel, should it be presented to them.

Lillian Johnson Curtis, a missionary in the late 1800's and early 1900's, had this to say about the power of animism: "Spirit-worship, as existing among the Laos, is not reduced to a system as is Buddhism. It has no temples, but it is enshrined in the heart of every man, women, and child in the country . It acknowledges no god, but gods many, both good and bad, more numerous and varied than those of the ancient Greeks. But little thought is given to the good spirits, if any such exists, but the bad ones have to be propitiated constantly; so constantly that it is just to term this people devil-worshippers. All the mon-asteries, shrines, and sacred bo trees of the land cannot soothe the heart of Laos-land that is trembling 'neath the scourge of demon fear . All unusual occurrences are accounted for as being super-natural; or in other words, they account for all workings of nature outside of the most ordinary by referring to some spirit. If a house is blown down in a storm, the owner never thinks it was poorly built or that its posts are beginning to decay, but he cries: 'The spirits, the spirits, what have I done to anger the spirits? What must I do to propitiate them? . Let us hasten to appease them!'"

Prayer Points

* Pray they will follow after Christ rather than worshiping spirits.
* Ask God to plant His church in the midst of the Tong people.
* Pray they will be freed from fear of spirits to repent and find peace and security in the Rock of Jesus Christ.

Profile Source:   Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Tong
People Name in Country Tong
Population in Laos 14,000
World Population 14,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 3.1
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Hantong, Lower Taoih, Lower Ta'oih, Taoih, Lower
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Mon-Khmer
People Name General Tong
Ethnic Code AUG03z
People ID 15259
Country Laos
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 28  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Saravan province, Saravan and Vapi districts..   Source:  Faces of the Unreached in Laos, 1999

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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)
Ong (14,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Ong 14,000
For Primary Language: Ong

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 2.20 %)
3.00 %
Ethnic Religions
97.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
10.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
65.0 %
Roman Catholic
25.0 %
Photo Source: Asia Harvest   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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