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Guide to Vietnam and Vietnamese business culture, society, language, etiquette, manners and protocol.
Table of contents
Vietnam is considered to be part of the East Asian cultural sphere. Following independence from China in the 10th century, Vietnam began a southward expansion that saw the annexation of territories formerly belonging to the Champa civilization now Central Vietnam and parts of the Khmer empire modern southern Vietnam , which resulted in minor regional variances in Vietnam's culture due to exposure to these different groups. During the French colonial period, Vietnamese culture absorbed various influences from the Europeans, including the spread of Catholicism and the adoption of the Latin alphabet.
In the socialist era, the Vietnamese cultural life was deeply influenced by government-controlled media and the cultural influences of socialist programs. For many decades, foreign cultural influences were shunned and emphasis placed on appreciating and sharing the culture of communist nations such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and others. Since the s, Vietnam has been exposed to other Asian, European and American culture and media. Some elements generally considered to be characteristic of Vietnamese culture include ancestor veneration , ancestor worship, respect for community and family values, handicrafts and manual labour religious belief.
Important symbols present in Vietnamese culture include dragons , turtles , lotuses and bamboo. Kinship plays an important role in Vietnam. Unlike Western culture's emphasis on individualism , Eastern culture values in the roles of family and clanship [ citation needed ]. Comparing with Eastern cultures, Chinese culture values family over clan while Vietnamese cultural values clan over family. Each clan has a patriarch, clan altar, and death commemorations attended by the whole clan.
Most inhabitants are related by blood. In the Western highlands the tradition of many families in a clan residing in a longhouse is still popular. In the majority of rural Vietnam today, one can still see three or four generations living under one roof. Don tiep trong le an hoi engagement ceremony Vietnam. JPG thumb right px The family of a Vietnamese bride line up to welcome her groom at their betrothal ceremony.
The traditional Vietnamese wedding is one of the most important tradition in Vietnamese occasions. Regardless of Westernization , many of the age-old customs practiced in a traditional Vietnamese wedding continue to be celebrated by both Vietnamese in Vietnam and overseas , often combining both Western and Eastern traditions.
In the past, both men and women were expected to be married at young ages. Some mountainous places exists "Tao Hon" because one of the couples are too young to get married just 13 or 14 years old. Marriages called contractual marriages were generally arranged by the parents and extended family, with the children having limited make decision on the matter. In modern Vietnam, this has changed as people freely choose their own marriage partners called romantic marriage.
Generally there are two main ceremonies: When a person passes away in Vietnam, the surviving family holds a [Wake ceremony] or vigil that typically lasts about five to six days, but may last longer if the surviving family is waiting for other traveling relatives. The body is washed and dressed. A le ngam ham , or chopstick , is laid between the teeth and a pinch of rice and three coins are placed in the mouth. The body is put on a grass mat laid on the ground according to the saying, "being born from the earth, one must return back to the earth.
Finally, the funeral ceremony, le thanh phuc , is officially performed. The surviving family wear coarse gauze turbans and tunics for the funeral. There are two types of funeral processions:. In Vietnam, the family of the deceased undergo a ritual after days of them passing away, where the whole family sits in pairs in a long line up to a single member of the family. A monk Thay Cung will place a thin piece of cotton over the family member's head and ring a bell and chant while rotating the bell around the deceased's head [ clarification needed ] , sending them in to a trance and open a way for the deceased to return to the living.
A bamboo tree with only leaves on the top with small pieces of paper with the deceased's name written on them will start to wave when the deceased is coming. They believe that after days the deceased may return to this realm and "possess" the body of the member of the family undergoing the ritual and once it is completed the other members of the family can communicate with the spirit of the deceased through the tranced family member. Normally this ritual will take all day to prepare and then as long as 6 hours praying and chanting, changing the family member at the front of the line.
Ancestor worship is common in Vietnamese culture. Most Vietnamese, regardless of religious denomination, practice ancestor worship and have an ancestor altar at their home or business, a testament to the emphasis Vietnamese culture places on filial piety. Vietnamese literature includes two major components: The two forms developed simultaneously and are profoundly interrelated.
Vietnamese folk literature came into being very early and had a profound effect on the spiritual life of the Viet. The folk literature contributed to the formation of Vietnam's national identity with praising beauty, humanism, and the love of goodness. Legends, fairy tales, humorous stories, folk songs, epic poems have a tremendous vitality and have lived on until today. Written literature was born roughly in the 10th century. Up until the 21st century, there had been two components existing at the same time: Since the s, written literature has been mainly composed in the National language with profound renovations in form and category such as novels, new-style poems, short stories and dramas, and with diversity in artistic tendency.
Written literature attained speedy development after the August Revolution, when it was directed by the Vietnamese Communist Party's guideline and focused on the people's fighting and work life. Modern Vietnamese literature has developed from romanticism to realism, from heroism in wartime to all aspects of life, and soared into ordinary life to discover the genuine values of the Vietnamese.
The art of Champa and France also played a smaller role later on. The Chinese The chinese arts influence on Vietnamese art extends into Vietnamese pottery and ceramics , calligraphy, and traditional architecture. Currently, Vietnamese lacquer paintings have proven to be quite popular. In the past, with literacy in the old character-based writing systems of Vietnam being restricted to scholars and elites, calligraphy nevertheless still played an important part in Vietnamese life. On special occasions such as the Lunar New Year , people would go to the village teacher or scholar to make them a calligraphy hanging often poetry, folk sayings or even single words.
Vietnamese myths do not just recount what may be called the universal condition. They also have myths to explain their own situation in a tropical and monsoon land, and one such myth is the story of Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh. The Shaman A shaman is an intermediary between humankind and the spirit world, occupying a …. About 60 percent of modern Vietnamese words are of Chinese origin.
Many basic words, like geographical terms, were adopted from mono tonal Mon-Khmer languages, while tonality came from Tai. This videos give you some traditional Vietnamese dances such as fan dance, lantern dance and dragon dance, etc. Banh Chung is one of special traditional food during the Vietnamese New Year celebration.
They therefore changed it to Viet Nam. Vietnamese officials resented the change and it did not attain public acceptance until the late s. The story of the origin of Vietnam's name captures several prominent themes that have run throughout the nation's history. As the usage of Viet indicates, the Vietnamese have for centuries had a sense of the distinctiveness of their society and culture.
However, as the inclusion of Nam shows, the land they inhabit has expanded over time, and also has its own internal divisions into northern, central, and southern regions. Additionally, as evidenced by the name change, their history has been profoundly influenced by their contact with other, often more powerful, groups. Vietnam today stands at a crossroads. It has been at peace for over a decade, but since the introduction of the "Renovation" or Doi Moi policy that began dismantling the country's socialist economy in favor of a market economy, the country has experienced tremendous social changes.
Some have been positive, such as a general rise in the standard of living, but others have not, such as increased corruption, social inequality, regional tensions, and an HIV-AIDS epidemic. The Communist Party still exercises exclusive control over political life, but the question of whether Vietnam will continue its socio-economic development in a climate of peace and stability remains uncertain at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Vietnam occupies approximately , square miles , square kilometers , an area roughly equivalent to New Mexico, and is situated between 8 and 24 degrees latitude and and degrees longitude.
It borders China in the north, Laos in the northeast and center, and Cambodia in the southwest. Its 2, miles 3, kilometers of coastline run from its border with Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand along the South China Sea to its border with China. The delineation of Vietnam's borders has been a focus of dispute in the post— period, notably the ownership disputes with China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Malaysia over the Spratly Islands; and with China and Taiwan over the Paracel Islands.
Recent progress has been made settling land border disputes with China and Cambodia. Hanoi, the site of the former capital of one of the country's earliest dynasties, has been the capital of the unified Vietnam since Vietnam contains a wide-variety of agro-economic zones. The river deltas of Vietnam's two great rivers, the Red River in the north and the Mekong in the south, dominate those two regions.
Both deltas feature irrigated rice agriculture that depends on the annual monsoons and river water that is distributed through immense and complicated irrigation systems. Irrigated rice agriculture is also practiced in numerous smaller river deltas and plains along the country's coast. Vietnam's western Vietnam salient is defined by the mountainous Annamite Cordillera that is home to most of the country's fifty-four ethnic groups. Many of these groups have their own individual adaptations to their environments.
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Their practices include hunting and gathering, slash and burn agriculture, and some irrigated rice agriculture. The combination of warfare, land shortages, population surpluses, illegal logging, and the migration of lowlanders to highland areas has resulted in deforestation and environmental degradation in many mountainous areas. The country is largely lush and tropical, though the temperature in the northern mountains can cool to near freezing in the winter and the central regions often experience droughts.
The current population is approximately seventy-seven million composed almost exclusively of indigenous peoples. The largest group is the ethnic Vietnamese Kinh , who comprise over 85 percent of the population.
Other significant ethnic groups include the Cham, Chinese, Hmong, Khmer, Muong, and Tai, though none of these groups has a population over one million. Expatriates of many nationalities reside in urban areas. The country's two largest population centers are Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but over 75 percent of the population lives in rural areas. The country's birth rate, estimated to increase at 1. Vietnamese is the dominant language, spoken by an estimated It is a tonal Mon-Khmer language with strong Chinese lexical influences.
The six-toned dialect of the central Red River delta region, particularly around Hanoi, is regarded as the language's standard form, but significant dialectical variations exist between regions in terms of the number of tones, accents, and vocabulary. Dialectical differences often serve as important symbols of regional identity in social life. As the official language, Vietnamese is taught in schools throughout the country. Since the s, Vietnamese governments have made great progress in raising literacy rates and approximately 90 percent of the adult population is literate.
Cuisine Of Vietnam
During the twentieth century the country's elite have mastered a variety of second languages, such as French, Russian, and English, with the latter being the most commonly learned second language today. Linguists estimate that approximately eighty-five other languages from the Austro-Asiatic, Austronesian, Daic, Miao-Yiao, and Sino-Tibetan language families are indigenous to the country. These range from languages spoken by large numbers of people, such as Muong , , Khmer , , Nung , , Tai Dam over , , and Chinese , , to those spoken by only a few hundred people, such as O'Du, spoken by an estimated two hundred people.
Many minority group members are bilingual, though not necessarily with Vietnamese as their second language. The Vietnamese government extensively employs a number of symbols to represent the nation. These include the flag, with its red background and centered, five-pointed gold star; a variety of red and gold stars; the image of Ho Chi Minh; and representations of workers and soldiers.
Images and statues of the latter, wearing green pith helmets and carrying weapons, are common in public places. Images of Ho are ubiquitous, adorning everything from currency to posters on buildings to the portraits of him commonly found hanging in northern Vietnamese homes. Ho was a strong advocate of national unity and referred to all Vietnamese as "children of one house. These drums, manufactured by early residents of northern Vietnam in the first and second millennia B. Since Vietnam began developing its tourist industry in the late s, a number of other images have become commonplace, such as farmers in conical hats, young boys playing flutes while riding on the back of buffalo, and women in ao dai , the long-flowing tunic that is regarded as the national dress.
Emergence of the Nation. Many Vietnamese archeologists and historians assert that the origins of the Vietnamese people can be reliably traced back to at least the fifth or sixth millennium B. A seminal event in the solidification of Vietnamese identity occurred in 42 B. China would rule the region for almost one thousand years, thereby laying the foundation for the caution and ambivalence that Vietnamese have felt for centuries toward their giant northern neighbor.
The Vietnamese reestablished their independence in The next thousand years saw a succession of Vietnamese dynasties rule the country, such as the Ly, Tran, Le, and Vietnam's last dynasty, the Nguyen — These dynasties, though heavily influenced by China in terms of political philosophy and organizational structure, participated in the articulation of the uniqueness of Vietnamese society, culture, and history. This period also saw the commencement of the "Movement South" Nam Tien in which the Vietnamese moved south from their Red River delta homeland and gradually conquered southern and central Vietnam.
In the process, they displaced two previously dominant groups, the Cham and Khmer. The modern Vietnamese nation was created from French colonialism. France used the pretext of the harassment of missionaries to begin assuming control over Vietnam in the s. By it had set up the colony of Cochinchina in southern Vietnam.
In it invaded northern Vietnam and forced the Vietnamese Emperor to accept the establishment of a French protectorate over central and northern Vietnam in This effectively brought all of Vietnam under French control. The French colonial regime was distinguished by its brutality and relentless exploitation of the Vietnamese people. Resistance to colonial rule was intense in the early years, but weakened after the late s.
The situation began to change dramatically in the late s as a number of nationalist movements, such as the Indochinese Communist Party formed in and the Vietnam Nationalist Party formed in , became more sophisticated in terms of organization and ability. Such groups grew in strength during the turmoil of World War II. On 19 August an uprising occurred in which Vietnamese nationalists overthrew the Japanese administration then controlling Vietnam.
The French attempted to reassert control over Vietnam by invading the country in December This launched an eight-year war in which the Vietnamese nationalist forces, led primarily by the Vietnamese Communists, ultimately forced the French from the country in late Vietnam was divided into North and South Vietnam for the next twenty-one years.
During this period the North experienced a socialist revolution. In North Vietnam began implementing its policy to forcibly reunify the country, which led to outbreak of the American War in Vietnam in the early s. This concluded on 30 April when North Vietnamese soldiers captured the city of Saigon and forced the surrender of the South Vietnamese government. On 1 January the Vietnamese National Assembly declared the establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, thereby completing the reunification of the Vietnamese nation. National identity is a complex and contentious issue.
One of the most basic components is the Vietnamese language. Many Vietnamese are tremendously proud of their language and its complexities. People particularly enjoy the rich opportunities for plays on words that come from its tonal nature and value the ability to appropriately use the countless number of adages and proverbs enshrined in the language.
Vietnamese also have an attachment to their natural world. The expression "Vietnamese land" dat Viet , with its defining metaphors of mountains and rivers, encapsulates the notion that Vietnamese society and culture have an organic relationship to their environment. Another important component of national identity is the set of distinctive customs such as weddings, funerals, and ancestor worship that Vietnamese perform. These are subject to a great deal of regional and historical variation, but there is a perceived core that many regard as uniquely Vietnamese, especially the worship of patrilineal ancestors by families.
Vietnamese food, with its ingredients and styles of preparation distinct from both China and other Southeast Asian nations, also defines the country and its people. Contemporary national identity's contentiousness derives from the forced unification of the country in Prior to this, the northern sense of national identity was defined through its commitment to socialism and the creation of a new, revolutionary society. This identity had its own official history that celebrated such heroes as Ho Chi Minh and others who fought against colonialism, but rejected many historical figures associated with the colonial regime, the Nguyen dynasty, and what it regarded as the prerevolutionary feudal order.
South Vietnamese national identity rejected Communism and celebrated a different set of historical figures, particularly those that had played a role in the Nguyen dynasty's founding and preservation. After unification, the government suppressed this history and its heroes. The northern definition of national identity dominates, but there remains alternate understandings among many residents in the southern and central regions.
Vietnam is home to fifty-four official ethnic groups, the majority of which live in highland areas, although some large groups such the Cham or Chinese live in lowland or urban areas. Since the mids, relations between ethnic groups have generally been good, but conflict has been present. The most frequent problem is competition for resources, either between different highland groups or between highland groups and lowland groups that have settled in the midlands and highlands. Some minority group members also feel discriminated against and resent governmental intrusion in their lives.
The government, which at one level supports and celebrates ethnic diversity, has had complicated relations with groups it fears might become involved in anti-government activities.
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This has been the case with several highland groups in northern and central Vietnam, the ethnic Chinese, many of whom fled Vietnam at the time of the Vietnam War and China's brief border war in , and expatriate Vietnamese who have returned to Vietnam. Vietnam's cities carry the architectural traces of the many phases of its history. The city of Hue, capital of the Nguyen dynasty, features the Citadel and other imperial structures, such as the mausolea of former emperors.
The French left behind an impressive legacy of colonial architecture, particularly in Hanoi, Hue, and Saigon. Colonial authorities meticulously planned these cities, creating wide, tree-covered avenues that were lined with impressive public buildings and private homes. Many of these structures still serve as government offices and private residences. Following the division of the country in , South Vietnam saw an increase in functional American-style buildings, while North Vietnam's Eastern Bloc allies contributed to the construction of massive concrete dormitory housing.
The s brought an array of new architectural styles in the cities as people tore down houses that had for years been neglected and constructed new ones, normally of brick and mortar. New construction has removed some of the colonial flavor of the major cities. City residents often congregate to sit and relax at all hours of the day in parks, cafes, or on the street side.
The busiest locations during the day are the markets where people buy fresh meat, produce, and other essentials. Religious structures such as Christian churches, Buddhist temples, and spirit shrines are often crowded to capacity on worship days. Almost all lowland communities have structures dedicated to the war and revolution. These range in size from a large monument for war dead in Hanoi to the numerous cemeteries and cenotaphs for the war dead in towns and villages across the nation.
These sites only commemorate those who fought for the victorious north, leaving those who served the south officially uncommemorated. Vietnamese rural villages feature a variety of architectural styles. Village residents in lowland river deltas usually live in family compounds that Traditional thatched-roof homes on piles in a village outside Sapa. These homes are more common among poorer, rural families. Compounds often have large open areas on the ground for drying rice.
Village homes are normally built extremely close to each other, creating nuclear or semi-nuclear settlements surrounded by agricultural fields. Historically, villages planted dense stands of bamboo around their communities to define their boundaries and protect them from trespassers, though these are disappearing. In poor areas, such as in the central provinces of Nghe An and Quang Binh, many families still live in thatched houses.
Regardless of their type, the main entrance to most homes is in the center of the long side, directly before the family ancestral altar. Kitchens, regarded as women's spaces, are on the side. Lowland villages have a variety of sacred spaces, such as Buddhist temples, spirit shrines, lineage halls, and the communal house a sacred structure that houses the village guardian spirit's altar.
These spaces normally have behavioral restrictions such as prohibitions against entry while in a polluted state to protect their sacredness. Highland minority groups often live in either thatched houses or in houses raised on stilts. Many of these houses maintain discrete spaces defined by age or gender. Food in Daily Life. Rice is the dietary staple which most people eat three meals a day.
Rice is usually consumed jointly by family members. The common practice is to prepare several dishes that are placed on a tray or table that people sit around. Individuals have small bowls filled with rice, and then take food from the trays as well as rice from their bowls with chopsticks. Vietnamese often accompany these main dishes with leafy vegetables and small bowls of salty sauces in which they dip their food. Popular dishes include sauteed vegetables, tofu, a seafood-based broth with vegetables called canh, and a variety of pork, fish, or meat dishes.
A common ingredient for cooked dishes and the dipping sauces is salty fish sauce nuoc mam. Another important family practice is the serving of tea from a small tea pot with small cups to guests. Northern cuisine is known for its subtle flavors, central cuisine for its spiciness, and southern cuisine for its use of sugar and bean sprouts. Diet varies with wealth; the poor often have limited amounts of protein in their diets and some only have the means to eat rice with a few leafy vegetables at every meal. The major cities feature restaurants offering Vietnamese and international cuisines, but for most Vietnamese, food consumed outside of the home is taken at street-side stalls or small shops that specialize in one dish.
The most popular item is a noodle soup with a clear meat-based broth called pho. Many Vietnamese regard this as a national dish. Other foods commonly consumed at these sites include other types of rice or wheat noodle soups, steamed glutinous rice, rice porridge, sweet desserts, and "common people's food" com binh dan , a selection of normal household dishes.
There are no universal food taboos among Vietnamese, although some women avoid certain foods considered "hot," such as duck, during pregnancy and in the first few months after giving birth. The consumption of certain foods has a gendered dimension. Dishes such as dog or snake are regarded as male foods and many women avoid them. Some minority groups have taboos on the consumption of certain food items considered either sacred or impure. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Food consumption is a vital part of ritual celebrations.
Historically, villagers held feasts after the conduct of rites dedicated to village guardian spirits, but revolutionary restrictions on resource consumption in these contexts has largely eliminated such feasts. Feasts held after weddings and funerals remain large and have increased in size in recent years. The most popular feast items are pork, chicken, and vegetable dishes served with rice. Liberal amounts of alcohol are also served. In the countryside this usually takes the form of locally-produced contraband rice spirits, while feasts in the cities often feature beer or imported spirits.
Feasts are socially important because they provide a context through which people maintain good social relations, either through the reciprocation of previous feast invitations or the joint consumption of food. Other important occasions for feasting are the death anniversaries of family ancestors and the turning of the Lunar New Year or Tet. Many of the foods served on these occasions are similar, although the latter has some special dishes, such as a square of glutinous rice, pork and mung bean cake called banh trung.
These feasts are comparatively smaller and, unlike the weddings and funerals, generally are confined to family members or close friends. Despite efforts at industrialization after , agriculture remains the foundation of the economy.
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The Vietnam Living Standards Survey showed that over 70 percent of the total population engaged in farming or farm-related work. Vietnam imports few basic agricultural commodities, and the majority of the items people consume are grown or produced in Vietnam. Land Tenure and Property. The Vietnamese government, in line with socialist ideology, does not legally recognize private land ownership. Since the early s, the government has made moves to recognize de facto land ownership by granting individuals long-term leaseholds.
This trend received more formal recognition with the passage of the Land Law. Control over land is extremely contentious. With the recent growth of a market economy, land has become an extremely valuable commodity, and many cases of corrupt officials illegally selling land-use rights or seizing it for personal uses have been reported. Ambiguities in the law and the lack of transparent legal processes exacerbate tensions and make land disputes difficult to resolve. Agricultural and manufactured products are sold both retail and wholesale. Cities, towns, and villages all feature markets, most of which are dominated by petty traders, normally women.
The most commonly sold commodities are foodstuffs and household items such as salt, sugar, fish sauce, soaps, clothing, fabric, tableware, and cooking implements. Major purchases such as household appliances, bicycles, or furniture are often made in specialty stalls in larger markets or in stores in towns and cities. Currency is used for most transactions, but the purchase of real estate or capital goods requires gold. The number of open market wage-laborers has increased in recent years.
Industrial output is evenly split between the state-owned, private, and foreign sectors. Since the late s, Vietnam has actively promoted foreign investment, resulting in a very rapid growth in output by that sector. International corporations have been most active in mining, electronics assembly, and the production of textiles, garments, and footwear, usually for export. Corruption and an unclear legal system have severely limited Vietnam ability to attract additional foreign investment since the Asian financial crisis.
Vietnamese state-owned factories produce a number of commodities for local consumption, such as cigarettes, textiles, alcohol, fertilizer, cement, food, paper, glass, rubber, and some consumer appliances. Private firms are still relatively small in size and number, and are usually concentrated in agricultural processing and light industry. Many complain that state interference, an undeveloped commercial infrastructure, and a confusing and ineffective legal system inhibit their growth and success.
Overview of Hanoi's Old Quarter. The French colonial influence is apparent in the architecture of many of the buildings that line the street. Vietnam's international trade relations have grown considerably since the early 's. Major exports include oil, marine products, rubber, tea, garments, and footwear. The country is one of the world's largest exporters of coffee and rice. It sells most of its rice to African nations. Its largest trading partners for other commodities include Japan, China, Singapore, Australia, and Taiwan. Vietnamese of all ages work. As soon as they are able, young children begin helping out around the house or in the fields.
Men tend to perform heavier tasks, such as plowing, construction, or heavy industrial work while women work in the garment and footwear sectors. Individuals with post-secondary school educations hold professional positions in medicine, science, and engineering. The lack of a post-secondary education is generally not a barrier to occupying high-ranking business or political positions, though this had begun to change by the late s.
National occupational surveys show that only slightly more than 16 percent of the population is engaged in professional or commercial occupations, while just under 84 percent of the population is engaged in either skilled or unskilled manual labor. The vast majority of the contemporary Vietnamese population is poor. There has been an increase in social stratification based upon wealth, particularly in urban areas where some individuals, often with links to business or the government, have become very wealthy. Another important axis of stratification is the distinction between mental and manual labor.
Given the recent origin of this wealth-based stratification and the widespread poverty, these groups have yet to congeal into clearly-defined classes. Symbols of Social Stratification. The most prominent contemporary symbols of social stratification are consumer goods. Two of the most common symbols are the possession of a motorcycle, particularly one of Japanese manufacture, and a mobile phone. Other items include refrigerators, televisions, video players, gold jewelry, and imported luxury goods, such as clothing or liquor. Some individuals also assert their status through large wedding feasts.
For the very wealthy, automobiles, foreign travel, and expensive homes are important status symbols. Many of the poor ride bicycles, wear old and sometimes tattered clothing, and live in thatched homes. Vietnam is a socialist republic with a government that includes an elected legislature, the national assembly, a president as head of state, and a prime minister as head of government.
However, real political power lies with the Vietnamese Communist Party. Party members hold virtually all executive and administrative positions in the government.