Cham, Western in Laos






Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

About 600 Cham people live in the capital city of Laos, Vientiane. The Cham are one of the most well-known and interesting people groups in Southeast Asia, but few are aware of their existence within the country of Laos, although one tourist book does mention them... "A very small number of Muslims live in Vientiane, mostly Arab and Indian merchants whose ancestry dates back as far as the 17th century. Vientiane also harbors a small community of Chams, Cambodian Muslims who fled Pol Pot's Democratic Kampuchea in the 1970's. The latter now have their own mosque in Vientiane."

The majority of Cham (195,000) live in Cambodia. Approximately 100,000 more live in Vietnam, while others live in countries as diverse as Malaysia, Thailand, USA, France, Saudi Arabia and Libya. The Cham Diaspora reflects their history as a great sea-faring people.

The Cham are one of the ancient ethnic groups in Southeast Asia. When Marco Polo traveled through the area in 1285, he reported that Chamba was... "a very rich region, having a king of its own. The people are idolaters and pay a yearly tribute to the Great Kaan, which consists of elephants and nothing but elephants.... You must know that in that kingdom no woman is allowed to marry until the King shall have seen her; if the woman pleases him then he takes her to wife; if she does not, he gives her a dowry to get a husband withal.... At that time the King had, between sons and daughters, 326 children, of whom at least 150 were men fit to carry arms."

The Cham language is part of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. It is divided into two varieties, Western Cham and Eastern Cham, which enjoy only limited mutual intelligibility.

While all Western Cham (including those in Laos) are Muslims, the Eastern Cham follow a complicated religious mix including Brahmanism, a sect of Hinduism that venerates Siva.

The Western Cham are a completely unreached people group in Asia. There are handful of known believers among them in Canada and the United States, however.

Prayer Points

* The Cham in Laos are strong Muslims. Pray Christ would place a hunger in their hearts to know Him.
* Pray Christians in Vientiane would share the gospel with the Cham.
* Pray that obstacles to the flow of the gospel be removed.

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

People Name General Cham, Western
People Name in Country Cham, Western
Population in Laos 1,000
World Population 295,000
Countries 7
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Cambodian, Cambodian Cham, Chăm (Chàm), Chiem, Chiem Thanh, Hoi, Thanh, Tjam, West Cham, Western Cham
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Cham
People Name General Cham, Western
Ethnic Code MSY44z
People ID 15361
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 Vientiane Municipality.   Source:  Faces of the Unreached in Laos, 1999
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Cham, Western (1,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Cham, Western 1,000
For Primary Language: Cham, Western

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Jesus Film: view in Cham, Western Film / Video
Primary Religion: Islam

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
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: Cambodia Research Network. Click to email CRN inquires and corrections   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Anonymous  
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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