Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country with a total of 54 ethnic groups living together in “S” shape strip of land. Kinh people (considered as Vietnamese ethnic people) accounting for 86% of the population concentrate mainly in Red River Delta, Central Coastal Delta, Mekong River Delta and big cities. 53 other ethnic groups, whose number varies from less than a million such as Tay, Nung, Thai, Muong, Khmer to over three hundred people namely O Du, Brau...are often known as ethnic minorities. Most of the ethnic minorities retain resident area mainly in the midland and mountainous region stretching from North to South.
Vietnam people had established a centralized monarchy since the 10th century. Cham people once early had a brilliant culture in their history. Tay, Nung, and Khmer people have reached a high stage of development with the emergence of various social classes. Meanwhile, Muong, H'mong, Dao, Thai ethnic groups...concentrated under the tutelage of local chieftains. Many ethnic groups also divided their populations into social echelons, especially tribes living in the mountainous regions.
Some ethnic minority groups had mastered farming techniques. They early knew how to cultivate rice in submerged fields and carried out irrigation while others proceeded to go hunting, fishing, gathering and living a semi-nomadic life. Particularly, each ethnic group retained their own rich, distinct and unique cultures. Also, religions and beliefs are very different among ethnic minorities.
However, a fundamental solidarity among ethnic people has been established right on sides of these differences, as a result of a collaborative process over many centuries. This solidarity is unceasingly strengthened through struggles against foreign aggression for national defense. Through the shared struggle for defending and building the country, along with the mutual assistance for co-existence and development, a common community between Vietnamese people and ethnic minority groups has been formed and constantly strengthened to develop.
However, in reality there exists a significant gap on physical and spiritual life among ethnic groups in plains and mountains as well as among ethnic minorities themselves. In that circumstance, Vietnam Government has worked out many specific policies and special incentives to help the mountainous people; simultaneously, try to develop and preserve the traditional cultural identity of each ethnicity.
54 ethnic groups in Vietnam can be divided into 8 groups according to their language as follows:
- Viet - Muong Group with 4 ethnic groups: Kinh (Vietnamese), Chut, Muong, Tho.
- Tay - Thai Group with 8 ethnic groups: Bo Y, Gia , Lao, Lu, Nung, San Chay, Tay, Thai.
- Mon - Khmer Group with 21 ethnicities: Ba Na, Brau, Bru - Van Kieu, Cho Ro, Co, Co Ho, Co Tu, Gie Trieng, Hre, Khang, Khmer, Kho Mu, Ma, Mang, M’Nong, O Du, Ro Mam, Ta Oi, Xinh Mun, Xo Dang, Xtieng.
- Mong - Dao Group with 3 ethnic groups: Dao, Mong, Pa Then.
- Kadai Group with 4 ethnic groups: Co Lao, La Chi, La Ha, Pu Peo.
- Austronesian Group with 5 ethnicities: Cham, Chu Ru, Ede, Gia Rai, Ra Glai.
- Han Group with 3 ethnic groups: Chinese, Ngai, San Diu.
- Tibetan Group with 6 ethnicities: Cong, Ha Nhi, La Hu, Lo Lo, Phu La, Si La.
The study of Vietnam ethnic groups in general or the culture of ethnic groups in particular is the work without limits. Particularly, exploiting special features of the nation’s traditional culture is an enormous potential for the development of Vietnam tourism industry.
Images of ethnic groups in Vietnam: