The Vietnamese people are a unique mix of historical backgrounds, languages and cultures. Similar to other Southeast Asia countries, a common denominator with the local people is that they are friendly and genuinely interested in foreign visitors and likely to be noticed on the Vietnam holidays. The Vietnamese are close to family members and relatives, and always open to a visit from friends.
The Vietnamese people have developed from a combination of the Mongol races of east and north Asia, while also having Indian and Chinese influences. Vietnam is a highly populated country (estimated to be the 13th most populous) and only beaten by Indonesia in Southeast Asia as the country that is most heavily occupied. There are approx 83 million people in the country with nearly 75% living in the rural area and 25% in the urban areas.
The most populous places in the country include the major cities with an estimated 3.5 million people living in Hanoi while a further 5 million people live in Ho Chi Minh City. Many of the cities throughout the country are seeing a trend of the population rapidly increasing. Visiting the bustling major cities on the Vietnam travel packages is certain to be a memorable experience.
As a country, Vietnam is seen as a very ethnically homogenous region with nearly 90 percent of the population made up of Vietnamese. Nearly 85 percent of the ethnic-minority people in the country are part of the indigenous group – which mainly consist of the Hmong and Thai – who are well established in the mountainous regions of Vietnam for 100’s of years. Also, there are about 3 percent Chinese ethnic people living in southern urban centres.
The country consists of 54 different ethnic groups that are able to peacefully co-exist, with the majority made up by Kinh people (nearly 86%), while the remaining 10% includes a varied range of ethnic groups (Khmer, Muong, Thai, Nung, Tay), and much smaller groups include Brau and O Du.
The population in Vietnam is at a quite young age with nearly 52 million of a working age – although there are approx 7.5 of the citizens that are aged 60 years or more. The elderly population continues to increase with the improvement in health care and living conditions. The life expectancy on average in Vietnam is about 75.
The Kinh people are widely scattered across the country, although there is a large concentration in the river deltas and plains. Rice cultivation is the major activity of the Kinh people. Most of the other ethnic groups are located in mountainous and midland regions that stretch from one end of the country to the next. Even though there is a diverse range of ethnic minority communities from the north to the south, they are still friendly and happily co-exist.
The ethnic minorities in low-lying areas like Nung, Tay, Thai and Muong are able to make a living from their fairly exquisite craftsmanship, hunting, poultry and cattle raising and paddy rice cultivation. Many of these groups locate themselves in northern mountainous and midland regions. In the south the ethnic minorities are more separated. Apart from the Chinese, Khmer and Cham based in the central coastal regions, the south has been able to achieve greater development compared to ethnic groups elsewhere.
Plus, those based in the highlands are likely to live in a village-style of organisation and run their lives on self-sufficiency. The different ethnic minorities are non-identical who have the diverse religious beliefs and retain unique and distinct cultures.
The language in Vietnam is influenced by the country’s distinct cultural and racial origins which has a combination of grammar, Tai tonality, and monotonic Mon-Khmer. The national language (Quoc-ngu) is universally taught and written by the people in Vietnam. This language was originally devised by Portuguese missionaries in the mid 17th century who made changes to the Roman alphabet in relation to signs and accents to match the particular tones, vowels and consonants of Vietnamese. While this form of language was originally spoken by the Vietnamese Christian communities it was later made the official written language in 1910 by the French administration.
Buddhism is the most prominent religion with nearly 20,000 pagodas and a following of over ten million members. However, the religious beliefs and faiths in this country are quite wide and rich with plenty of indigenous groups that embrace ancestor, theism, and animism. The second most common religion in Vietnam is Catholicism with an estimated 6000 churches and over six million followers. This faith was introduced to the country by European missionaries. Some of the country’s indigenous religions, such as the Hoa Hao and Cao Dai sects have established their holy land in the provinces of An Giang and Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta region, as well as the city of Tay Ninh. The people of different faiths are able to peacefully coexist.
While there are plenty of Buddhist pagodas that are open to tourist to visit, it is important to be respectful while in these places of worship. For instance, any visitor on the Vietnam customized tour entering the temples should remove their shoes and wear appropriate clothing. Also, it is seen as ill-mannered point feet at statues of the Buddha or other people. Also, many of the temples are free to enter, but donations for the ongoing upkeep are graciously received. The use of cameras or other photographic equipment should be respectful in the temples and permission must be granted before taking pictures of people.
Vietnamese people prefer to be greeted with a smile and a gentle handshake, which is useful to remember on the Vietnam tours. But, for the Vietnamese officials, any meeting with the police for instance will be more rigid who prefer to the treated in a diplomatic and firm manner. It can help to deal with any issues or misunderstandings with good humour and patience. Locals that give assistance are usually appreciative of receiving small gifts in return, such as perfume, liquor, foreign cigarettes, pens, cigarette lighters, or shampoo. However, caution is necessary with street beggars because giving money can soon result in mob scenes with others wanting a share of the offerings.
Over the centuries, the Vietnamese people have come together throughout their history to protect borders for freedom, territorial integrity and independence.