Overview of Vietnam

       The Socialist Republic of Vietnam

            Cultural practices

Each ethnic group (Viet, Hmong, Dao, Nung, Thay, Tay, Lo Lo, Khmer, etc.) has its own cultural practices with specific celebrations and ceremonies, ancestor worship is one of them. Among the Viet (Kinh), for example, ancestor worship is a tribute to departed ancestors that is passed on from generation to generation. By venerating their ancestors through rituals and festivals, family members express their attachment, respect and gratitude. Ancestor worship, which is not attached to any religious authority, is much older than any other religion in Vietnam. It is without question the most important “spiritual” practice of the country practiced by all in the private and family setting with as a place of worship the ancestor altar which will be present in almost every house.

           Ethnic languages and linguistic groups

Besides Vietnamese, widely spoken, each ethnic group has its own language attached to a linguistic group (8 in Vietnam) :

-The Viêt – Muong group: Viet (Kinh), Chut, Muong, Thô.

-The Tày – Thai group: Bô-y, Giay, Lào, Lu, Nùng, San-chay, Tày, Thai.

-The Môn – Khmer group : Ba-na, Brâu, Bru-Vân Kiêu, Cho-ro, Co, Co-ho, Co-tu, Gié-triêng, Hrê, Khang, Khmer, Kho-mu, Ma, Mang, M’Nông, O-du, Ro-Mam, Tà-ôi, Xinh-mun, Xo-dang, Xtiêng.

-The Mông – Dao group: Dao, Mông, Pà-then.

-The Kadai group : Co-lao, La-chi, La-ha, Pu-peo.

-The Han (Chinese) group : Hoa, Ngai, San-diu.

-The Nam Dao group (Austronesian): Cham, Chu-ru, Ê-dê, Gia-rai, Ra-glai.

-The Tang group (Tibetan): Công, Hà-nhi, La-hu, Lô-hô, Phù-la, Si-la.

        Land of the dragon

With a total area of 331,699 km², Vietnam forms a huge S that stretches along the entire length of the Indochinese peninsula and is bathed by the China Sea on its eastern flank. The Vietnamese territory extends over 1,750 km from north to south, not exceeding 600 km at its widest point. The narrowest part, near the 17th parallel, measures 50 km. The country shares 1420 km of borders with China to the north, 2340 km with Laos and 1450 km with Cambodia (including the maritime border) to the west. It also has a large maritime coastline (3,260 km) including thousands of archipelagos stretching from the Gulf of Tonkin to the Gulf of Thailand.


Vietnam is divided into 3 main regions :

North : (Tonkin) is characterized by mountain ranges cut by deep valleys, the main one being the Red River. The North is populated by multiple ethnic minorities.

Center : (Annam) forms a long convex band punctuated with small plains wedged between the East Sea and the high plateaus of Truong Son (Annamite Cordillera). This region is characterized, on the coastal side, by a string of dunes and lagoons and, in the west, by terraces formed by ancient alluvial deposits.

South : (Cochinchina), essentially formed by the rich and vast plain of the Mekong delta. Mekong or Cuu Long Giang (River of Nine Dragons) is the second longest river in Asia (4,800 km).

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