With a population of over 98 million, Vietnam comprises various ethnicities with distinct languages, customs, and beliefs. The warmth and friendliness of Vietnamese people are one of the things that make Vietnam travel such an unforgettable experience. In both the bustling cities and serene countryside, they have a lot to offer in terms of sharing their history and traditions with tourists.
1. The origin of Vietnamese people
The origin of Vietnamese people is an interesting and fascinating story that dates back thousands of years ago. Studies show that they are descendants of the ancient Malay people. The coming of Vietnamese people occurred in three phases:
- Mid-Stone Age: About 10,000 years ago, a group of Great Asians from Tibet moved to Southeast Asia, which is now known as Indochina. They mixed in with the Great Australian people, resulting in the ancient Malays.
- End of the New Stone Age: Over time, the Malays migrated and inhabited throughout Asia, expanding from Yangtze River in the north to Indonesia and the Philippines in the south. They later mixed in with North Vietnamese and South Chinese, leading to the coming of a new South Asian people known as Bach Viet, who spoke languages such as Mon-Khmer, Tay-Thai, Viet-Muong, etc.
- Nowadays: Eventually, the ancient Malays in Southern Vietnam became Austronesian people, who are believed to be the ancestors of modern-day Vietnamese.
2. How many ethnic groups of Vietnamese people are recognized?
Vietnam is a populous country, ranked as the 15th most populous in the world by the United Nations Population Fund. As of 2023, the Vietnamese population in Vietnam is estimated to be approximately 100 million.
The country is home to 54 ethnic groups, each with their own unique language and culture. The Kinh Vietnamese people are the largest ethnic group found in various regions, including deltas, islands, and cities.
Alternatively, many ethnic minority groups such as the Thai, Tay, Muong, Hmong, Khmer, Nung, and Dao inhabit rural areas such as the mountainous regions, the Central Highlands, and the Mekong River Delta.
>>> Learn more about Vietnamese language and fascinating facts about its linguistic features!
3. Explore the typical Vietnamese people's characteristics
A beautiful country in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is known for its rich history and diverse culture. The people of Vietnam are one of the most important aspects of the country's unique identity. In this article, we will explore some typical Vietnamese people's characteristics.
3.1. Vietnamese people's facial features
Over time, the appearance of Vietnamese people has changed. The Vietnamese average height is 159 centimeters. The average height of a Vietnamese man is 164 centimeters, and for women, it is nearly 153 centimeters.
Vietnamese women have been praised for their harmonious features: plump faces, dark hair, large double eyelids, fair skin, and slim body.
Additionally, due to the region's geography and climate, East and Southeast Asians share many physical characteristics, such as fair skin, black hair, and a low nasal bridge.
3.2. Vietnamese people's personalities
Vietnamese people are known for their friendly personalities. They take pride in their rich history and culture and are always eager to share it with others. In this article, we will explore some defining characteristics of Vietnamese personalities:
- Hospitable and friendly
Vietnamese people are renowned for being welcoming hosts to tourists from around the world. They go above and beyond to make sure their guests feel at home by offering food or drink and showing genuine kindness. Friendliness is inherent in the local culture, where everyone greets each other like old friends on almost every occasion.
- Hard-working and inquisitive
With an unwavering determination, Vietnamese people believe in working hard to achieve their goals, not just for themselves but for future generations as well. They have a strong desire to learn and grow, always seeking new knowledge and challenging themselves intellectually. They value education, and many Vietnamese will pursue higher education to advance in their careers.
- Strong sense of national pride
What are Vietnamese values? It is a deep love for their country and its history. The sense of national pride is apparent in everyday life, through various cultural expressions such as traditional music, cuisine, and festivals, which they take great pride in showcasing to visitors from abroad.
- Regional diversity
Vietnamese people have strong regional cultural identities, which can be generally categorized according to the three major regions: Northern, Southern, and Central. Vietnamese people in the Northern and Central regions are known for their hard work, formality, and caution, whereas people in the South have a more liberal vibe and are often regarded as being more "Westernized".
- Robust family ties
In Vietnam, family is highly valued and deeply rooted in society. Vietnamese people prioritize maintaining strong family ties and are passionate about their loved ones. Festivals and holidays are opportunities for family reunions and bondings. It is not uncommon for generations to live under one roof even after the children have grown. Grandparents play an active role in raising grandchildren together with their parents.
- Sense of humor
A sense of humor is proudly displayed among Vietnamese people, whether it be through puns, sarcasm, or jokes. In different parts of Vietnam, kind and often humorous tour guides will make even the most stoic traveler smile. They like to joke even in difficult times, and often remind each other how lucky they are to have what they have.
4. Some funny facts about Vietnamese culture and people
4.1. Driving motorbikes
Vietnamese people love their motorbikes, and they are known for their remarkable skill in maneuvering through traffic on these vehicles. The streets of cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can seem like a chaotic ballet of motorbikes, but it is not uncommon to see entire families, including children and even pets, riding on a single motorbike.
4.2. Sharing food
4.3. Carrying out daily life on the sidewalks
The sidewalks in Vietnam often double as a bustling extension of everyday life. You might see vendors selling everything from street food and clothing to household items, all right on the sidewalk. It is also not uncommon to find small plastic stools and tables set up for people to sit, eat, and socialize, making the sidewalk an essential part of the local lifestyle.
4.4. Respecting elderlies
Respecting and caring for the elderly is a deeply ingrained value in Vietnamese culture. It is not atypical to see younger people offering their seats to elders on public transportation, and children are taught to address their elders with specific respectful terms. This reverence for older generations is often extended to the workplace and other social settings as well.
5. Who are famous Vietnamese people honored by UNESCO?
Throughout its long history, Vietnam has been home to many influential figures who have left a lasting mark on the world. From political leaders such as Ho Chi Minh and Nguyen Trai to renowned poets like Nguyen Du and Chu Van An, below are some of the country’s greatest minds recognized by UNESCO:
5.1. President Ho Chi Minh
President Ho Chi Minh is a symbol of peace and revolution who devoted his life to bringing independence, prosperity, and equality to Vietnam. He is remembered as an outstanding cultural man and educator who strove to bring knowledge and raise the educational level of the nation.
“Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom” is a mantra that Ho Chi Minh believed in until his last breath. The president’s legacy continues to live on with the dream of freedom, independence, and justice for all ethnicities.
Through his efforts, he created a path for the Vietnamese people toward progress. His message still stands strong today in memory of the fight against oppression, inequality, and colonialism.
5.2. Nguyen Trai – An outstanding politician
Nguyen Trai, a great patriot and cultural leader of Vietnam, is known as one of the most famous people in Vietnamese history. A descendant of the Tran Dynasty and born in Hai Duong, he devoted his life to showing admiration and care for the nation through military-political thought.
Famous works such as Quan Trung Tu Menh Tap and Binh Ngo Dai Cao reflect his immense contributions to Vietnam during the Lam Son Uprising. His other writings, such as Uc Trai Thi Tap (in Chinese) and Quoc Am Thi Tap (in Nom), also remain significant treasures among Vietnamese people.
5.3. Nguyen Du – A great poet
Nguyen Du (1765 - 1820) is considered one of the greatest poets of Vietnam. His most famous work, "The Tale of Kieu," has become a common literary property around the world, immortalizing the story in Vietnamese people's hearts and minds. This masterpiece has been translated into over 20 languages, from Arabic to Russian.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton once began his talk with students in Vietnam using two sentences from "The Tale of Kieu." As Nguyen Du set an example for future generations, his historic works live on to honor Vietnamese people’s vigor and culture across the world.
5.4. Chu Van An – A teacher of all times
Chu Van An, born in Hanoi, was a renowned teacher in Vietnam. He preached the philosophy of education and believed in lifelong learning for Vietnamese people regardless of social status, deeply influencing many generations with his progressive values. He made remarkable contributions to the country by becoming the first rector of the Imperial Academy.
In memory of his amazing career, there are several temples dedicated to him, such as Thanh Liet Temple. Furthermore, the people of Hanoi pay homage to him by naming places after him, such as Chu Van An Street and Chu Van An High School.
When traveling to Vietnam, besides learning about the local people and Vietnamese customs, there are many attractions for visitors to see. From the bustling city streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the majestic nature of Ha Long, Da Nang, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, to the charm of Hoi An Ancient Town, all are great places for you to relax away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
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Vietnam is a country of amazing beauty and rich culture that Vietnamese people are incredibly proud to show off to visitors worldwide. The hospitality and friendliness of the locals make the country an ideal destination for travelers looking for a unique and memorable experience. So, if you are looking for a worthwhile adventure, pack your bags and travel to Vietnam!