No messing around. No fussing. Today we're bringing you a must-know list of facts about Vietnam! If you haven't researched Vietnam, most of this will probably be brand new for you. If you've lived or worked in Vietnam for a long time, hopefully, there are a few nuggets in here that you've never heard before!
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A List Of Facts About Vietnam
Vietnam is the 5th biggest exporter of coffee in the world, netting the economy $2.25 billion in 2020.
For coffee lovers, the perfect place to source fresh coffee or go for a tour of a coffee plantation is Dalat.
Coffee is not indigenous to Vietnam and was brought by the French in 1855.
Vietnam has 54 different ethnic groups! The major ethnic groups are the Kinh (85% of the population) and the Hmong 1.5%. Other ethnic minorities include the Cham 0.2% and the Pa Then 0.01%
The national dish of Vietnam is a noodle soup dish called Pho, which is what most people think of when they think of Vietnamese food. People assume this rice noodles dish has been in the Vietnamese culture for thousands of years, but records indicate that it was first fashioned in the 1880s, lending elements from both Chinese culture and French culture. For example, it wasn't until the French came along that eating red meat was popularized.
Vietnam is the number 1 exporter of dragon fruit. If you've never had it, it tastes like a mixture of strawberries, kiwi, and pear. Dragon fruit might look a little alien, but it has many health benefits. Firstly, it rejuvenates your hair. Secondly, it has a lot of fiber which is excellent for digestion. Thirdly, it is good for diabetes because the fruit has a low glycemic index.
Vietnam is the #1 exporter of cashew nuts and black pepper. My advice: find a local 'nut' guy; you will get a great deal on a wide variety of nuts at a much-reduced price.
Vietnam still employs a lot of people in the agricultural sector. At the last count, 52% of the population worked in a field related to agriculture.
The average salary in Vietnam is only $311 per month. Not much, right? However, compare that to 2000 when the average wage was $300 per year!
Vietnamese music is split into different categories based on geography—the Northern, Central, and Southern.
Vietnamese arts have a long and storied history. However, the most widely bought pieces are old propaganda posters used during the Vietnam War.
The official language is known as Vietnamese. It has six tones and different North, Central, and South dialects.
Tourism has exploded. In 2000 the number of tourists per annum was 4 million. By 2017 that number had risen to 13 million. Interestingly, a lot of these tourists are Chinese. About 32%. Those numbers might sound big but are nothing compared to Thailand, which welcomed 38 million overall tourists in 2018.
Rice is king! The average Vietnamese person eats 7.6kg of rice per month.
80% of Vietnamese people are atheists, although the line becomes a little blurry regarding animism, I.e., superstitious folk beliefs.
Globally speaking, the sea to the east of Vietnam is known as the South China Sea; however, this name is disputed by the Vietnamese, and they simply know it as the east sea.
Vietnam is a relatively short nation. The average height for a man is 164cm, and the average height for a woman is 152cm. Interestingly, the number is rising with access to better nutrition. See the difference between North and South Korea.
Measured in 2014, only 3.6% of Vietnamese people were obese.
However, Vietnam also has the fastest rising obesity rates in Southeast Asia. About 40% of children in urban areas are estimated to be overweight.
White skin is a status symbol because dark skin is associated with back-breaking work in the fields. Cosmetics shops are stocked with whitening cream, and you will even see some people who take it a step further and have special skin bleaching treatments.
40% of the Vietnamese population have the surname Nguyen. Nguyen is the name of a revered Vietnamese dynasty.
The Motorbike is the number 1 way to get around, and there are 50 million motorbikes in the country; however, car ownership has also shot up. 5.7% of Vietnamese households now own a car. By 2025 that number is expected to jump to 9% and 30% by 2030.
Võ Việt Nam is a national Vietnamese martial art with many similarities to Chinese martial arts. However, people in Vietnam like to think of it as distinct and trace it back all the way to the ancient Nam Viet people.
Many people assume the French introduced the Latin alphabet, but in fact, it was Portuguese missionaries in the 17th century.
Vietnamese roads are very unsafe. In 2015, the number of deaths was estimated at 26 a day. However, signs indicate the country is clamping down on things like drunk driving.
The Vietnamese economy is expanding at an outstanding speed. Even with the effects of COVID19, the economy is expected to grow by 7.5% in 2022. That is on the back of decades of similarly impressive growth.
Vietnam does not have a tipping culture. If you find that you want to give a waiter a tip, leave it directly with them as opposed to leaving it on the table.
Viet Kieu means overseas Vietnamese person.
After the Vietnam war, between 3-4.5 million Vietnamese people settled outside of the country, and since then, there have been further migrations. Numbers include roughly 300,000 in Australia, 350,000 in France, 1,800,000 in the U.S.A.
50% of Viet Kieu in America live in Texas or California.
If you're buying flowers, avoid Chrysanthemums. In Vietnamese culture, this is seen as a funereal gift.
You can't wear shoes indoors. This probably stems from the ancient Chinese custom that wearing outdoor shoes introduces bad luck. I also read an interesting theory about reflexology, the Chinese traditional science that says relieving pressure points in the foot aids health.
Vietnam is roughly split into three dialects. The Northern dialect. The central dialect. The southern dialect. The languages are mutually intelligible, but there are differences because other vocabulary sets have mixed with them. For example, the north was heavily influenced by Chinese and the south by Khmer.
Vietnam has over 4,000 large and small islands.
China first conquered Vietnam in 111 BCE, where they continued to rule for another 1000 years.
The Reunification Express train links Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and symbolizes a reunified Vietnam. However, this isn't for those of you who like to do your traveling on bullet trains. The train moves at a leisurely pace and takes about 35 hours.
The four sacred animals in Vietnam are turtles, phoenixes, dragons, and unicorns.
Vietnam has the largest cave in the world. Called Han Son Doong cave, it was only explored by scientists in 2009! It's so large you could fit an entire New York City block within it.
Vietnam has 45 airports. The largest is Noi Ba International Airport in Hanoi. In 2019 it served 30 million passengers.
A traditional Vietnamese drink is snake wine- a fermented rice wine with a dead snake curled around the inside of the bottle. Once upon a time, it was thought to decrease hair loss and improve virility. Now it is mainly sold to tourists who want the 'authentic' Vietnamese experience.
Another interesting fruit that Vietnamese people like is called vú sữa. In English, we would call it a star apple; however, in Vietnamese, it translates to milky breast!
The highest mountain in Vietnam is called Fanxipan and is 3,147metres high.
Vietnam's unemployment figure is staggeringly low at only 2.17%.
Vietnamese people in Hanoi compare the weather to a teenager going through puberty! The weather's 'mood' is very variable. One day it could be 40degrees, and the next day it could drop down to 25.
Tap water is unsafe to drink in Vietnam. However, you can brush your teeth and take a shower without worrying.
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Vietnam is a country that is taking off in many different arenas. Vietnamese cuisine can now be found in the swankiest areas of London. Vietnamese art is being displayed in the fanciest Parisian galleries. And Vietnamese society generally is being buoyed by the extraordinary economic success the country has seen recently.
Think of this blog as your gateway into Vietnam culture and the app as a way to improve your language skills! We have SRS flashcards, native audio recording, as well as fun mini-games and quizzes.