Thousands of years ago, people moved
into the Vietnam area from the north and from islands to the south.
The Vietnamese people probably developed out of these two groups.
Today, they make up almost 90 per cent of Vietnam's population.
Tay, Thai, Chinese, and Khmer are the largest minority groups in
Of Viet-Muong origin, the Vietnamese have slim body build, black
hair, and brown or black eyes. Over seventy million people of 54
ethnic groups live in harmony in Vietnam territory.
The largest group is Viet or Kinh accounting for 80% of the whole
population. The Vietnamese inherit an age-old civilization which
dated back to 4000 years as proved in various scientific and archaeological
Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam.
The people speak three major dialects (local forms) of Vietnamese--northern,
central, and southern. But these dialects differ little from one
another. Many members of the country's minority groups speak Vietnamese
in addition to their own languages.
In spite of 1000 years being dominated by Chinese, the Vietnamese
have their own language. They modified Chinese characters once.
Since 1900 they absorbed the Latin system through the Western missionaries.
Vietnamese is a monosyllabic language.
Each sound has a meaning. English, French and Japanese can be communicated
in many shops, restaurants, hotels and resorts.
Many Vietnamese people, especially those living in the cities, can
also speak English, French, Chinese, or Russian.
The Communist leaders of Vietnam discourage
all religious practices. Most of the Vietnamese people who practise
a religion are Buddhists.
There are no national religions. However Buddhism is relatively
popular in Vietnam. Some Catholic churches and Buddhist pagodas
are attractive to tourists.
In the South there is a special religion namely Caodaism, a mixture
of Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism and Worship of Genie.
Majority of Vietnamese practise the ancestral worship.
Two small religious groups--the Hoa Hao and the Cao Dai--have developed
since 1920 in the south. Hoa Hao is closely related to Buddhism.
Cao Dai combines certain beliefs of Taoism and Buddhism with those
of several other religions.