Laka in China

Joshua Project has identified the Laka only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The Laka are a subgroup of the Naluo, who are officially considered a subgroup of the Yi. The name "Laka" may originate from the Chinese term laogan "old workers" or a Yi term meaning "artisan." In the early 1900s the Laka may have been workers who helped construct the railroad in northern Yunnan. Samuel Clarke unflatteringly described them as "very drunken and immoral." The Laka are often confused with the Lakkia people of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a Yao group who are also sometimes called Laka.


The Laka are part of the splintering of people groups that has taken place in the mountains of southwest China over the past 2,000 years. One source states that the main difference between the Laka and the Naluo is that the Laka were slaves and serfs of the Nasu while the Naluo were not. This historical and social separation has created a distinct self identity among the two groups today.


The Laka earn their livelihood from the bounty of the Yangtze River. This part of the Yangtze contains a nearly extinct breed of albino dolphins found nowhere else in the world.


The Laka were traditionally animists and polytheists until they were converted by missionaries prior to 1949. Today many Laka are nonreligious and have adopted many of the customs of the Han Chinese people in the area.


Mission outreach to the Laka commenced in the early 1900s. In 1908 it was reported that "the work among the Laka is now being consolidated by the appointment of Mr. Metcalf as their own missionary." The Gospel of Mark was translated into the Laka language using the Pollard script and distributed between 1912 and 1936. Today most Laka are mixed in with Eastern Lipo communities and few outsiders know of their existence. Missiologist Ralph Covell has stated, "The name Laka people is repeatedly mentioned in missionary literature about Yunnan. Always it appears with the sorry refrain that although the Laka wanted to believe, no one was available to go to them, either to evangelize or disciple."

Profile Source:   Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Laka (Lah-ka)
People Name in Country Laka
Population in China 7,800
World Population 7,800
Countries 1
Progress Scale 3.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Laka (Lah-ka)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18901
Country China
Region Northeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country More than 6,000 members of the Laka group live in the northernmost reaches of Yunnan Province, on the southern banks of the Yangtze River in Wuding County. The Yangtze is the border between Yunnan and Sichuan. In 1911 missionary Samuel Clarke recounted the first visit to the Laka people by Australian missionary Arthur Nicholls: "The Laka are another branch of the Nosu [Yi] race. From the hill-tops, when Mr. Nicholls visited them, he saw the River of Golden Sand, as the Yangtze River is called in that part of its course. Across the river was the province of [Sichuan], which there, following the course of the river, projects like a promontory far away to the south.".   Source:  Operation China, 2000

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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)
Nuosu (7,800)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Nuosu 7,800
For Primary Language: Nuosu

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes
New Testament Yes   (2005)
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Jesus Film: view in Nuosu Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Christianity
Religion Subdivision: Independent

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 32.52 %)
41.00 %
Ethnic Religions
20.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
39.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
100.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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