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As a result, Laos today has cultural influence from France, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Burma and Cambodia.
The history of Laos is unique with a national character defined by its diversity in both culture and customs. The Lao government recognizes 47 distinct ethnicities, which are further sub-divided into 149 subgroups.
The Lao Sung are commonly identified by language, dry rice production, slash-and-burn agriculture, traditional opium production and animist beliefs.
Yet the country of Laos has an official count of over forty-seven ethnicities divided into 149 sub-groups and 80 different languages.
The Tai family includes the Lao and Thai, as well as smaller groups which have generally been distinguished by their traditional dress and include the Tai Dam (Black Tai), Tai Daeng (Red Tai), and Tai Khao (White Tai).
The Laos to define both the ethnicity and nationality.
Prior to the 20th century Lao principalities and the Kingdom of Lan Xang extended to the Sipsong Panna (China), Sipsong Chau Tai (Vietnam), and Khorat Plateau (today the northeast of Thailand) where the river was used as a transportation artery to connect Lao peoples on both the right and left banks.
However, the political history of Laos has been complicated by frequent warfare and colonial conquests by European and regional rivals.
The Lao government makes no distinction between the bordering groups and views them as sharing a common identity, but the government of Thailand has through a process known as “Thaification” assimilated the Lao living in Isan.