Viet Nam is located in a region considered a cradle of mankind, one of the earliest agricultural centers practicing wet rice farming, where the stone and metallurgical revolutions took place. On the basis of socio-economic development in the Dong Son Era and given the struggle against natural disasters and foreign invasion, the Van Lang State, the first State in Viet Nam was established in the 7th century B.C. With their hard work and creativeness, the Van Lang (and then Au Lac) inhabitants created a civilization that influenced the entire Southeast Asian region. Together with the formation of the first State in Viet Nam’s history was the evolution of a diverse economy and an advanced civilization known as the Red River Civilization (or Dong Son Civilization), symbolized by Dong Son bronze drum, a heritage reflecting the quintessence of the lifestyle, traditions and culture of the ancient Vietnamese people.

In the cause of national building, the Vietnamese people had to cope with various foreign aggressions. During 12 centuries from the resistance war against the Qin Dynasty in the 3rd century B.C until late 20th century, the Vietnamese had to launch hundreds of struggles and uprisings against foreign aggressions. The principle of placing the small and weak forces before much larger and stronger ones has become the rule of thumb in the national defense wars of the Vietnamese people.

Since the 2nd century B.C, Viet Nam had been dominated by different Chinese feudal dynasties for more than a thousand years. During this period, the existence of the nation had been challenged, giving rise to the spirit of undauntedness and unyieldingness of the Vietnamese people in the struggle to maintain the nation’s vitality, to preserve the quintessence of its culture and to gain national independence.

The Bach Dang victory in 938 opened up a new era in Viet Nam’s history – the era of development of an independent feudal state, national construction and defense. As a result, the centralized administrative state was established under the Ngo (938-965), Dinh (969-979) and Earlier Le (980 - 1009) Dynasties.
Viet Nam entered the period of renaissance and development under the Ly (1009-1226), Tran (1226-1400), Ho (1400-1407) and Le So (1428-1527) Dynasties. Dai Viet, the name of the country under these dynasties, was known as a prosperous nation in Asia. This period marked the golden age of Viet Nam’s history. In economic terms, this period saw the development of agriculture and irrigation (with the construction of the Red River Dike) and the formation of traditional handicraft villages. In religious terms, traditional beliefs, Buddhism and Confucianism were considered the three co-existing official religions. One important achievement in the Ly-Tran Dynasties was the introduction of Nom scripts, Viet Nam’s own writing system based on the reform and Vietnamization of Chinese Han scripts. In addition, this period also marked the splendid development of education, science, culture, art, history and law (establishment of Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam, introduction of Hong Duc Code and Complete Book of Dai Viet History). This period was called the Civilized Age of Dai Viet. Thang Long (the old name of Ha Noi) was officially recognized as the imperial capital city of Dai Viet according to the Proclamation on the Transfer of the Capital to Ha Noi in 1010 by Ly Thai To.
From the 16th century, the backwardness and weakness of the feudal regime under Confucius ideology were revealed. Feudalism fell into a decline. While many nation states in Europe were moving to capitalism, Dai Viet was bogged down in civil wars and divisions, which heavily impeded the country’s evolution despite certain developments in the economy and culture, the establishment of towns and ports and the rapid growth of domestic and international trade between the 16th and 18th century.

In the early 19th century, Western capitalist countries entered the period of imperialism and colonialism. Through missionaries and trade, the French gradually dominated Viet Nam. For the first time in history, Viet Nam had to cope with the invasion of a Western industrial country. In that context, some Vietnamese intellectuals were aware of the need to carry out reforms, bringing the country out of stagnation and save national independence. Many reform plans were proposed, yet rejected by the Nguyen Dynasty. Subsequently, the country was driven into backwardness and deadlock and became a semi-feudal colony for nearly 100 years from 1858 to 1945.

The founding of the Communist Party of Viet Nam on 3 February 1930 was an important milestone in the Vietnamese history. In August 1945, under the leadership of the Communist Party headed by President Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese people successfully launched an uprising to seize power and the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam came into being on 2 September 1945.

The newly founded Viet Nam had to go through another 30-year-long struggle for national liberation and reunification. Dien Bien Phu victory and Geneva Accord in 1954 put an end to the war of resistance against the French colonialists. According to the Accord, the country was temporarily separated along the 17th Parallel North into two territories, North Viet Nam and the South Viet Nam, which were expected to be reunified two years later with a general election. South Viet Nam was ruled by a pro-French and then pro-USA government in Saigon. Though Saigon regime attempted to prevent reunification, it failed to subdue peace and national reunification campaigns. As a result, the National Liberation Front for South Viet Nam was founded on December 20 1964.

Between 1954 and 1975, Viet Nam had to stand up for national liberation and unification. To support the South Viet Nam regime, the US sent military aid and over half a million soldiers to Viet Nam, and started bombing North Viet Nam in 1964. To fulfill President Ho Chi Minh’s apiration that "nothing is more precious than independence and freedom", the Vietnamese people experienced untold hardship and sacrifice. In 1973, the Paris Accord was signed for restoration of peace in Viet Nam and withdrawal of the US troops. The war came to an end in spring 1975 as the patriotic armed forces launched an offensive against the Saigon regime, liberated southern Viet Nam and reunified the country. Since then, the unified Viet Nam has ushered into a new era of peace, unification and national construction. Democratic Republic of Viet Nam was renamed Socialist Republic of Viet Nam on April 25 1976. In 1977, Viet Nam became a member of the United Nations
In the first ten years of post-war period, many socio-economic targets could not be achieved due to both internal and external reasons. Viet Nam’s economy fell into crisis and stagnation. People’s lives were difficult.

At the 6th Congress of the Communist Party in 1986, Doi Moi (reform) policy was launched with focus on economic reform. This marked an important milestone in Viet Nam’s new stage of development. Doi Moi policy was consistently reaffirmed throughout later Party Congresses. For over 20 year, Viet Nam, from a food importer, has become the second largest rice exporter in the world. Viet Nam also exports various other commodities with well-known brands. The economy has attained high growth rate during the late 20th century and early years of the 21st century. People’s lives have been significantly improved. The legal system has become increasingly improved and social management based on the rule of law has been put into place. Security and national defense have been firmly maintained and international relations have increasingly been extended and deepened.

Throughout the formation and development of Viet Nam, patriotism, self-reliance, tradition of unity and the willpower to fight for the righteous cause of the nation are the most important features and the moral standards of the Vietnamese. The tradition of industriousness, creativeness and patience originates from the life full of hardship of the Vietnamese people. The need to stand united to cope with difficulties and challenges has created close bonds between the people and the nature and among the people, which can be observed in the family as well as the community no matter at home, village or nationwide level. Throughout history, the Vietnamese people are also characterized by traditions of mutual assistance, ethic-based lifestyle, benevolence, hardship sharing in needy times, high consensus, quick adaptation and integration, flexible behavior, eagerness to learn, respect for righteousness, and tolerance. These are the powerful and endless endogenous strengths for the Vietnamese people to embark on the cause of national construction towards the goals of strong country, prosperous people, and just, democratic and advanced society.


Cultural and society

Family Life: In Viet Nam’s traditional society, a typical family has three or four generations living under the same roof. With the view of "more children, more fortunes", many families want to have lots of children and grandchildren. Influenced by Confucianism and the feudal view of male preference, men play the most important roles in family and always have final say. Feudal ethics shape women around “three obediences, four virtues” (three obediences: obedience to their fathers during childhood, to their husbands when married and to their sons in widowhood; four virtues: diligence, good manner, proper speech, and morality)

Since reunification, the State of Viet Nam has adopted a number of legal documents, notably Law on Marriage and Family, in order to make family relations more equal. Different measures have also been taken to raise the awareness of the public and change the obsolete attitude, ensure gender equality and fight for the legitimate rights of women.

Today, Vietnamese family size tends to be narrowed down to two or three generations. Most couples have only two children. The advocacy for men's superiority over women is weakening and gradually being eliminated. However, the time-honoured tradition of "respect for the elderly and love for the children" has been maintained and advocated in each and every Vietnamese family.

 Costume: Most ethnic groups in Viet Nam have their own costumes that reflect their unique cultural identities. Most of these costumes are decorated with vivid patterns in contrast colours: black-white, black-red, green-red or green-white and made of natural fiber such as ramie, silk, pineapple yarn or cotton. These materials are fine, durable and sweat-absorbing, suitable for tropical climate.

The traditional costume of Vietnamese men was white pants, brown tops with scarf and ordinary sandals or wooden clogs called "guoc". The official costume for men includes velvet or cotton long dress and turban. For women, costumes are more complicated and colourful with black skirt, white brassieres, four-panel dress with "crow-beak" scarf and pergularia-like belt. The official costume includes three layers of dress. The first one is the velvet four-panel dress in dark colour or light brown, then a light yellow dress underneath and a lotus-colored one. Wearing this costume, the woman only fastens the buttons below her underarms, and the upper part is opened to show the three colours of their dresses. Beneath these three dresses is a red brassiere. They wear a special large conical hat called "non", which gives them an elegant look and makes Vietnamese women more graceful.

 Today, the official costumes of the Vietnamese people have changed. Suits have replaced the traditional costume of Vietnamese men. The long dress or Ao Dai, which was first worn under Lord Nguyen Phuc Khoat's regime, has been modified to better suit Vietnamese women and is used in many important ceremonies of the year. The modern Ao Dai is a tunic slit to the waist with the two loose panels falling down to mid shin. This dress, which is really suitable to the small build of a Vietnamese woman, reveals the hidden beautiful curves of her body.

 Currently, with increasing exchanges among different cultures, Vietnamese clothing becomes more diverse and fashionable, reflecting a higher level of integration, especially that of urban youth

 Major Festivals: Festivals are typical folklore cultural activities in all regions of Viet Nam. Such festivals bring peace to the heart and mind of the Vietnamese people, wipe out their pressures from daily life, and bring them closer to nature and the motherland. As an agricultural country, most Vietnamese festivals are held during “leisure times”, which are spring and autumn. There are also national festivals for all Vietnamese people, including the Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan), July Full-Moon, August Full-Moon or Hung Kings Festival.

 Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan-usually in late January or early February):

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Geographical Location: Viet Nam is located on the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. It has a long land border of 4,550 km, bordering China to the North, Laos and Cambodia to the West, and Eastern Sea (South China Sea) of Pacific Ocean to the East. On the map, Viet Nam is an S-shaped strip of land, stretching from 23°23’ to 8°27’ North latitude. The country’s total length is 1,650 km from the northernmost point to the southernmost point. Its width, from the Eastern coast to the Western border, is about 500 km at the widest part and about 50 km at the narrowest part.

The country’s diverse topography consists of hills, mountains, deltas, coastline and continental shelf, reflecting the long history of geology and topography formation in a monsoon, humid climate and strong weather exposure. The topography is lower from the Northwest to the Southeast, which can be clearly observed in the flows of major rivers.

Three quarters of Viet Nam’s territory are made up of low mountains and hilly regions. Regions with elevation lower than 1,000 meters above sea level make up 85% of the territory. Mountainous regions over 2,000 meters above sea level account for only 1%. Hills and mountain ranges form a large bow, 1,400 km in length from the Northwest to the Southeast, heading towards the Eastern Sea. The highest mountain ranges are all located in the West and Northwest with the peak of Fansipan (3,143 meters), the highest in Indochina. Nearer to the Eastern Sea, the mountain ranges lower and usually end with a coastal strip of lowland. From Hai Van Pass to the South, the topography is simpler. Long limestone mountain ranges are replaced by large granite mountains followed by a vast plateau known as the Central Highlands behind Truong Son Range to the East.

Only one-fourth of the Vietnamese territory is covered by deltas, separated into regions by mountains and hills. There are two major deltas with fertile arable land in Viet Nam, the 16,700 sq km Red River Delta, locally known as the Northern Delta, and the 40,000 sq km Mekong River Delta, or the Southern Delta. Between these two major deltas is a chain of small and narrow deltas along the Central coast from the Ma River basin in Thanh Hoa Province to Phan Thiet with the total area of 15,000 sq km.

Viet Nam faces the Eastern Sea to the East and the Gulf of Thailand to the South and Southwest. The country has a long coastline of 3,260 km running from Mong Cai in the North to Ha Tien in the Southwest. Viet Nam’s territorial waters in the Eastern Sea extend to the East and Southeast, including the continental shelf, islands and archipelagoes. There is a group of around 3,000 islets belonging to Viet Nam in the Tonkin Gulf, including Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, Cat Hai, Cat Ba and Bach Long Vi Island. Farther in the Eastern Sea are Hoang Sa Archipelago (Paracel Islands) and Truong Sa Archipelago (Spratly Islands). To the West and the Southwest, there are groups of islands including Con Son, Phu Quoc and Tho Chu.


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