Mal in Thailand





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

In 1995, the national census of Laos listed a population of 23,193 Mal people. This figure was substantially higher than a 1985 figure of 13,977. Their communities are located wholly within the Phiang District of Xaignabouri Province, west of the Mekong River.

Between 3,000 to 4,000 Mal live across the border in Thailand. In addition, a small Mal refugee community exists in northern California in the United States.

Mal or Madi is the self-name of this group. The Thais and Lao commonly call them Htin or Tin, but this name is not used among themselves. The Mal are related to the Phai ethnic group of Phongsali Province, further to the north. The Phai are believed to speak the same language as the Htin in Thailand, whereas the Mal language in Laos is different.

The Mal are a poverty-stricken people. Their crops usually yield a poor harvest because of their slash-and-burn agricultural technique. When they come to some new land, Mal families combine to clear the land of rocks and burn down the trees. After one year the soil is depleted, so the Mal move on and find some new land, where they repeat the process. They will not return to land they have already used until it has been left fallow for ten years.

The Mal prefer to marry within their own village, so often they marry their first cousins. This has led to some inbreeding. Couples live with the family of the bride until they have several children, at which time they move into their own house.

The Mal are animists. Many villages have a resident shaman who conducts animistic ceremonies. There is also some Buddhist influence among the Mal in Laos.

Christian missionaries such as Don and Sally Durling and Dave and Fran Jordan have ministered among the Mal in Thailand for many years. In 1992, a breakthrough occurred when a shaman named Bpan followed Christ. More than 100 Mal refugees from Laos followed Bpan's decision and were baptized.

In late 1993, about 300 Mal believers were among 1,200 Mal repatriated back into Laos by the Thai government.

Prayer Points

* Pray the Mal believers in Laos would remain strong and continue to share their faith in the face of opposition.
* Ask God to bless the work of missionaries among the Mal people.
* Pray the Mal New Testament would be fully used among the Mal in both Laos and Thailand.

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

People Name General Mal
People Name in Country Mal
Population in Thailand 4,800
World Population 41,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 2.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Khatin, Lua, Mal, Tin, T'in
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Mon-Khmer
People Name General Mal
Ethnic Code AUG03z
People ID 18842
Country Thailand
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Nan Province, east of Pua District and Chiang Kam, valley near northern Laos border.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Mal (4,800)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Mal 4,800
For Primary Language: Mal

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1983)
New Testament Yes   (1994)
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.00 %)
6.00 %
Ethnic Religions
94.00 %
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 %
60.0 %
Roman Catholic
40.0 %
Photo Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
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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