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The nation of Laos is located in the northern part of the Indo-Chinese peninsula in mainland Southeast Asia. The majority of people (6,677,534, July 2008 estimate) in the Lao People's Democratic Republic are Theravada Buddhists. They constitute 65% of the population, and about 33% practice animism. But there is no clear-cut demarcation, since Buddhism has been blended with elements of indigenous religious practices, Hinduism, and traditions from neighboring countries. About 2% of Laotian people profess Christianity, Islam, and other religions. According to tradition, Buddhism was introduced in Laos during the reign of the Indian Emperor Asoka (ca. 273–226 BCE). A Buddhist that or wat (shrine) was built. Buddhism in Laos has been influenced by neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand as well as ...

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