The Origins of The Vietnamese

According to a national legend telling the origins of the Vietnamese, the first Vietnamese descended from the dragon lord Lac Long Quan and the female heavenly angel Au Co. They married and gave birth to a sac of 100 eggs from which hatched 100 humans. One day Lac Long Quan told Au Co: “I am descended from dragons, you from fairies. We are as incompatible as water is with fire. So we must live apart from each other” the husband then went seawards with 50 of their children, while his wife went to the mountains with the other half of the clan.

The oldest son, Hung Vuong, later installed himself as Vietnam’s first monarch. Because of that, Vietnamese people refer to themselves as the dragon’s son and fairy’s grand children.



Most Vietnamese considers Van Long of the Hong Bang Dynasty, exited from 2879 BC to 257 BC as the first state, and Hung Vuong as the first king, the founding father of the country.

Vietnam has exited for nearly 4000 years; they are ancient people with their own identity and culture. Their salient tradition is fighting for national independence. Even from the ancient time they had to struggle against foreign domination. China occupied and assimilated Vietnam for almost 1000 years, the Vietnamese finally expelled the Chinese in 938 AD.



However, anthropologists said Vietnamese belong to an ethnic called Austro-Asiatic, which was born of a cross between the Mongoloids and the Austro-Negroid inhabitants 10,000 years BC. This ethnic settled in a territory extending from south of the Yangtze River in the present day China to the northern part of present day Vietnam. During the Bronze Age 3000 years BC the group of Viet people in the red river basin created a cultural and national identity before the formation of Chinese Empire. This later was known as the first state of Vietnam.


Therefore in Vietnamese, Vietnam is written in two words, Viet and Nam, Viet is the name of an ethnic group, and Nam means south. Vietnam, then, refers to the country of Southern Viet people. To Vietnamese, South (Nam) often evokes what pertains to Vietnam, while North (Bac) evokes China.


There are 54 officially recognized ethnic groups living in the territory of Vietnam, making the total population of this country over 93 millions. Sizes of those ethics are big different, Viet people makes up of 86% of the national population and is the largest ethnic group in Vietnam, the second largest group is Tay People, with 1,7 m. The smallest is Ơ Đu, with less than 400 people.



Each ethnic group in Vietnam has its own cultural identity while still sharing certain similarities with mutual exchanges within the national border, and influences from China, India and Southeast Asian Countries. Generally, most of ethnic in Vietnam rely on wet rice agriculture or swidden farming, combining with raising poultry, collecting, hunting and fishing; and handicrafts and on commerce of different level.

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Vietnam historyVietnam storyVietnam's folk beliefsVietnammese
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