Photo: Downtown Saigon - Saigon and the Mekong delta were inhabited by the Vietnamese only from the 17th century onwards.


According to the Asiaweek issue of July 6, 1994, the population of Vietnam by the middle of 1994 counted about 73 million, which in terms of population makes Vietnam the second largest country in Southeast Asia after Indonesia with 191 millions.

Ethnically Vietnam is the most homogenous country of Southeast Asia; about 90 % of the population are Vietnamese. Nevertheless, there are a large number of ethnic minorities, not quite as many as in Burma and Indonesia (far more than 100 in each of these two countries), but still, more than 50.

About 85 % of the 7 millions of Vietnam's ethnic-minority population belong to indigenous ethnic minorities, whose settlement areas have for many centuries been the mountain regions of Vietnam. The largest groups are Thai and Hmong tribes. Contrary to what is the case in Burma and Indonesia, ethnic minorities in Vietnam are not strong enough to seriously aspire their own sovereign states.

There are about 1 million ethnic Chinese living in urban centres in the South of the country. Since the Communist takeover the Chinese suffer severe restrictions, reflecting the fact that ethnic Chinese had played a dominant role in the capitalist economic system before the Communist takeover.

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