Consulate General of Vietnam
5251 Westheimer Rd, Suite 1100
Houston, Texas 77056
United States
Tel: 713-850-1233 | 713-840-0096
Fax: 713-840-0159 | 713-871-0312
Mon - Fri: 09:00am - 12:00pm
Local Time:
Vietnam Time:

People and Language

Population: With 85,789,573 people (as of 1 April 2009), Viet Nam ranks 13th among the most populous countries in the world. 30% live in urban areas and 70% in rural areas. People aged 15 to 60 account for 60% of the country’s population. Total work force in all economic sectors is around 45 million people (2008 figure). Ho Chi Minh City (7.1 million people) and Ha Noi (6.44 million people) are the most populous cities. Given urbanization trend, urban population is expected to rapidly grow in the coming years.

Viet Nam has over 8 million people aged over 60 or 9.45% of the total population. Average life expectancy is 73 and tends to increase due to improved living conditions and healthcare.

Ethnicity: Viet Nam has 54 ethnic groups coexisting peacefully, among which Kinh people account for 86% of the population. Among ethnic minorities, the most populous are Tay, Nung, Thai, Muong, and Khmer with population of around 1 million people, while the least populous are Brau and Odu with several hundred people. Kinh people spread out all over the country but mainly inhabit in the lowland and river deltas. They are the owner of the wet rice civilization. The majority of the other 53 ethnic groups are scattered over mountainous areas and the midland from the North to the South. Most ethnic minorities coexist in the same regions, particularly ones in Northern and Northern Central region.

Ethnic minorities have uneven development levels. In the Northern midland and mountainous regions, ethnic groups like Muong, Thai, Tay, and Nung engage in paddy farming techniques, grow upland rice and raise cattle and poultry. Some go hunting and collecting while others make rather sophisticated traditional handicrafts. Ethnic minorities in the South are more secluded. Except for the Cham, Hoa and Khmer people living in the Central and Southern coast with higher development level, most Central Highlands ethnic minorities inhabit in clusters of hamlets and are self-sufficient, living mainly on nature. All ethnic groups have their own unique cultures. Their beliefs and religions are also diverse.

The Vietnamese government pursues a policy of equal development rights for ethnic groups in all aspects. That policy is to link economic growth with social welfare, improve material and spiritual life, reduce poverty and enhance education, and preserve and promote cultural identities and fine traditions of all ethnic groups in Viet Nam.

Language: 54 ethnic groups in Viet Nam have their own languages and their unique and distintive cultures; 30 ethnic groups have their own scripts, including Tay, Thai, Hoa, Khmer, Nung, H’mong, Giarai, Ede, Bana, Xodang, Koho, Cham, Hre, Mnong, Raglai, etc. More than 10 scripts are taught in school and some are used in the mass media such as H’mong, Thai, Jrai, Ede, Bana, Cham, Khmer.

The Vietnamese language has been selected as the common language for all ethnic groups in Viet Nam. It is the universal language, an instrument to transfer knowledge in Viet Nam’s education system from pre-school to higher education, and a means of communication and state management for all ethnic groups in Viet Nam.

The Vietnamese script today has its origin dated back to the 17th century when a group of European missionaries, most notably Alexandre de Rhodes, introduced in Viet Nam a system of Latin-based script. Since then, the Vietnamese script has evolved into a complete writing system and become the official script of Viet Nam since the early 20th century.