Isan Thai in United States

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

he Northeastern Thai, also known as the Lao Isan, are dispersed throughout 17 provinces in northeastern Thailand. This area takes up nearly one third of Thailand's total land mass. It is basically a flat arid plain known as the Khorat Plateau with infrequent rainfall and few natural resources. The region is noted for its archeological relics and monuments dating back to Khmer influence under the Angkor wat regime.
Many of the present-day residents of the Khorat Plateau were forcibly relocated to this hostile region over a period of 100 years from the Lan Chang Kingdom in what is now Laos. Later the people, the region and their language was labeled by Siamese kings as Isan, meaning "northeast." Even though this region is now fully incorporated into Thailand and all residents are Thai, the Lao Isan language, unique diet, rituals and culture continues to thrive among this people group.

Where Are they Located?

In the US, ethnic groups from Thailand tend to stick together. There is a large Thai community in Greater Los Angeles, and the Northeastern Thai are among them.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Northeastern Thai Issan people work hard at restaurants and as students. They are not as prosperous as some Asian immigrants to the US, but they are much more prosperous than they were in Thailand. Their social interactions are mainly with Thai people, not Western Americans.

There is a very small population of both native Icelanders and Isan Thai people.
What Are Their Beliefs?

The Northeastern Thai Issan are Theravada Buddhist. They follow the teachings of Gautama Buddha and seek to eliminate suffering and improve their future by gaining merit in their present lives. Ultimately, they are in pursuit of nirvana, or perfect peace. They believe that merit can be acquired through feeding monks, donating to temples, and frequently worshiping in the temples. They also practice traditional ethnic religions, but this is less likely for those who live in the West.

What Are Their Needs?

The Northeastern Thai Issan people need to have the opportunity to give Jesus a chance to change their lives. Unless someone clearly shows them the difference, they will continue to believe that Buddhism is for them and Christianity is for Westerners.

Prayer Points

Pray for Northeastern Thai Isan people in the US to put their worth in God, not in the world system.
Pray for a movement to Christ among the Northeastern Thai Isan people, both in North America and in Thailand.
Pray that God will call forth teams of long term missionaries and intercessors who will commit to seeing Thai Isan people in the US begin their own disciple making movement.

Scripture Prayers for the Thai, Isan in United States.


Profile Source:   Keith Carey  

People Name General Thai, Isan
People Name in Country Thai, Isan
Natural Name Isan Thai
Pronunciation ee-SAHN tye
Alternate Names Esan; Esarn; Isaan; Isan; Issan; Khon Tai; Lao Isan; Northeastern Tai; Northeastern Thai; Siamese; Tai Isan; Thai-Khorat
Population this Country 87,000
Population all Countries 19,112,000
Total Countries 6
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 2
People ID 15460
ROP3 Code 109994
ROP25 Code 308102
ROP25 Name Thai
Country United States
Region America, North and Caribbean
Continent North America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country United States
Region America, North and Caribbean
Continent North America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
98.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.10 %)
2.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Thai, Northeastern (87,000 speakers)
Language Code tts   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Thai, Northeastern (87,000 speakers)
Language Code tts   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Thai, Northeastern

Primary Language:  Thai, Northeastern

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1972–1996)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (2016)
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Isan Bible Online General / Other
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Thai, Northeastern Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video The Hope Video Mars Hill Media
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2024  Hansamurano - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Profile Source Keith Carey 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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