Vietnam, officially known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Cộng hòa Xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam), if you want to get formal. No, not the war, but the S-shaped Southeast Asian country that hugs the east coast of Indochina. South of China, east of Thailand and Cambodia. Historically part of East Asia (although it was Southeast Asian before Chinese influence), it is now starting to resemble its Southeast Asian neighbors again in terms of economy and culture.
Some notable cities and towns include:
- Hanoi (Hà Nội) - the capital and second largest city of around 6 million heads, with quite a few lakes and an atmospheric old quarter as its primary trademarks. Hanoi recently celebrated its 1000th anniversary. Often represented by the One Pillar Pagoda, and sometimes referred to as Thăng Long ("Ascending Dragon"), the most iconic among its older names.
- Ho Chi Minh City (thành phố Hồ Chí Minh) - the number one economic hub and the largest city, and perhaps still better known by its former name, Saigon. Founded as Gia Định in 1690, it is rather young by Vietnamese standards. Its actual population, immigrants included, is somewhere near 10 million. Downtown clearly shows French urban planning with wide boulevards flanked by imposing colonial buildings. Ben Thanh Market can be used as a shorthand for Saigon, and the city has acquired a new phallic symbol◊ of late: Bitexco Financial Tower - the first true and completed skyscraper of Vietnam, designed by an American studio in New York.
- Huế, (Huế) once seat of Vietnam's last royal dynasty. It has a small Forbidden City modeled faithfully after the one in Beijing. Has a reputation for courtliness and old-fashioned classical elegance.
- Danang (Đà Nẵng), a deep-water port in Central Vietnam that for the past several years has gained the fame of a fast-developing city with free public wi-fi and a fire-breathing Dragon Bridge.
- Nha Trang - a coastal resort town popular with local Vietnamese, returning overseas Vietnamese and non-Viet foreigners alike. Home to beautiful beaches that now seem being ruined by spurious, uncontrolled development.
Hanoi, Saigon and Danang are three among the five municipal cities, and currently they are joined by Hải Phòng (quite close to the famed Halong Bay), and Cần Thơ (de-facto capital of the Mekong Delta). There are also 58 other provinces.
HistoryVietnamese people have a creation myth involving Lạc Long Quân, the Dragon Lord of Lac Viet. Having battled monsters here and there, he settled down with Âu Cơ, the fairy princess of Âu Việt. She gave birth to a sac with 100 eggs inside, which hatched into 100 children. Because of the couple's insurmountable differences, their marriage didn't work out and they had to split the family. Half the kids would follow their father to the sea where he ought to live, the rest stayed with Âu Cơ in the dry, hilly land and founded a kingdom. And thus resulted the Bách Việt people, Văn Lang the first Viet nation and the first known divorce in Vietnamese history. Modern Vietnamese still call themselves "con rồng cháu tiên", or "children of the dragon, grandchildren of fairies''. Pretty convenient if you want to forge a common identity for a genetic goulash.
Myths aside, Vietnam identifies itself with a Bronze Age culture called Đông Sơn, which is best known for its intricate decor motifs on bronze drums. It was from this culture that the state of Văn Lang allegedly arose, and if there's any truth in the creation myth, the dragon-fairy marriage can be interpreted as an alliance of highland and lowland tribes, the seed for what would eventually become Vietnam. Văn Lang was succeeded by Âu Lạc, which in turn was conquered by the Eastern Han Dynasty of China in 111 BC. The following millennium saw Chinese domination over Vietnam, interspersed by rebellions. (Some of them were led by women, as expected from a matriarchal culture). But also thanks to the Hans, it's from this point onward that the history of Vietnam was at least recorded.
In 938 AD, a Vietnamese Lord named Ngô Quyền finally defeated the Chinese, and reclaimed independence. The following centuries saw a golden age for the nation, with culture flourishing under the rule of the Lý and Trần dynasties. The change in the family in rule was often because the descendants of the family became gradually worse in both moral and control of the country. Nevertheless, Vietnam still grew quite a bit. Buddhism took over Confucianism as the state religion. Vietnam also was able to repel three Mongol invasions around the 13th century (pretty good, eh?).
Vietnam's independence was interrupted for a short period of 20 years in the early 15th century, but was restored by Lê Lợi, who would go down Vietnamese history to become one of its greatest national heroes, with legends and myths surrounding his battles and rule over Vietnam. It was during this period that Vietnam reached its zenith, with firm establishment of the law and government, and was a crucial period in its expansion towards the south, which was controlled by the Khmer Empire and is now South Vietnam of today.
However, as the Lê dynasty weakened, civil strife became frequent in Vietnam, resulted in civil war and multiple changes of dynasties. A stability sort of was reestablished when Quang Trung defeated the two warring dynasties of that time, repelled the Siamese and Chinese invaders, and founded the Tây Sơn Dynasty. However, with his mysterious death, it fell, and the Nguyễn Dynasty rose in its place. Although many consider the fall of Tây Sơn a premature end of something that could have been glorious, peace still stood. For a while.
In the nineteenth century, the French invaded. The Nguyễn's control was gradually eroded eventually until after a series of fighting, France took control of Vietnam and surrounding countries to establish French Indochina. It began to westernize the country, establishing French as the official language in education and government, and gradually replacing the old Chinese-like Nôm writing system with the alphabet as seen today. It established a plantation economy that would exist until today, with focus on rubber, tobacco, tea, coffee... Waves of nationalist movements emerged, with leaders usually who studied in foreign countries and came back to push for political freedom. However, resistances were quickly broken. The French maintained control over Vietnam...
...until World War II. France sucked at that period, and Imperial Japan soon took over Indochina. Vietnam's resources were exploited to fight the war on the Pacific, eventually led to the death of 2 million (about 10% total population) during the Famine of 1945. 1941 was also the year where the ''Việt Minh'' was established, which was a communist and nationalist liberation movement led by Ho Chi Minh. Following the defeat of Japan in WWII, Viet Minh quickly took over Hanoi and proclaimed a provisional government, and which started playing the French and Japanese off against each other before trying to defeat them both. Eventually, the Japanese won out, overthrew the current government, and retained an iron hold over Indochina in the face of Communist, Chinese, and Western Allied attempts to liberate the region... until the Japanese surrendered.
Yet, unluckily for Vietnam, it didn't get any chance to enjoy its hard-earned peace, because this is where things got complicated. The Western Allies and Chinese moved into Indochina to round up the remaining Japanese, and with the former came the French. Originally created to fight the Japanese forces and restore its rule over Indochina, the French Far East Expedition Corps landed and proclaimed the restoration of French control just as the Viet Minh started coming out of the woodwork, with Ho Chi Minh declaring independence on the 2nd of September, 1945.
In spite of attempts to defuse the situation, war started between the two sides on November 1946. The Viet Minh were backed up by China and Soviet Russia abroad and a wide coalition of lesser nationalist and left-wing Indochinese rebel groups who banded together to fight the French, while the French Union were supported by the US, UK, and the Netherlands as well as Indochinese loyalists. Both sides fought extensively and greatly, with the Viet Minh suffering greater losses but with greater manpower. The Siege of Điện Biên Phủ in March-May 1954 became a historic battle, caused by a blunder by the French, who didn't expect the Vietnamese to have heavy artillery and to be able to move those weapons in difficult terrain. The French lost around 23,000 of its personnel (captured or killed), which was a third of its total strength. A ceasefire was negotiated and the Geneva Accords were agreed to, which dissolved French administration over Vietnam and withdrew French personnel. However, it also split the country into two part, North and South Vietnam, with North Vietnam under Communist rule of Ho Chi Minh, and South Vietnam under the rule of Bảo Đại, the current descendant of the Nguyễn Dynasty (they're still existing? Yeah). And thus, the background for The Vietnam War was set up. Please go to the page for further explanation of the period.
Anyway, after the War, Vietnam was still screwed. Massive economic problems followed the collectivization of farms and factories (the communist state took over private ownership of them and declared they belonged to the State, without appropriate repayment). Of course, the rationing of food and goods were followed, since people got the same amount of stuff however hard they worked, they couldn't be bothered to work anymore. Those who remained working produced useless goods that people never wanted to pay for, and inflation followed like a tornado, TRIPLE-DIGIT. There was also humanitarian problems, with the communists trying to prosecute those who supported the previous government. Anyway, massive number of people fled the country in crudely built boats, becoming the Vietnamese Boat People that are distributed around Australia, United States and other countries today.
There were also periods of war. The Khmer Rouge massacred quite a lot of Vietnamese and razed the villages bordering them. In 1978, it removed the Khmer Rouge from power and ruled over Cambodia until 1989. China wasn't pleased, so the following year (1979), it launched a brief invasion into North Vietnam (the Sino-Vietnamese War). After the war with China, the northern border became a site of constant artillery duels and cross-border skirmishes until the end of the Cold War.
The history is followed in the Politics and Economy part.
Politics and EconomyIn 1986, when destitute Vietnam was near the verge of collapse, a progressive faction in the Communist party rose to power and implemented a course of economic reform called Renovation, similar to what Deng Xiaoping did to China eight years earlier. Vietnam thus ceased to be a Commie Land in the strict sense of the term, and nowadays it's a young market economy with rather shaky macroeconomic conditions, dictated by a one-party regime which is in fact an oligarchy. Their relatives (or even themselves) are heads of the very keystone corporations in Vietnam, while the people working for the government for paycheck are unabashedly obstructive bureaucrats. Corruption in the police force is fairly common, with the police often being accused (not without reason) of being useless to anyone without money.
Government propaganda still centers on Marxism-Leninism, but of course, In Name Only. As in the case of China, most people can be described as "apolitical" - if you're not a supporter of the regime, that's the only safe way to go about it.
The high growth rate of the economy, among the highest on Earth, is accompanied by pretty rampant inflation, and as of 2010, getting worse. Fun fact: Previously, to combat this threat, the beloved and glorious government decided to cut down the official interest rate- because in their logic, doing so would ease the borrowing costs for companies (especially for government-controlled companies), which should lead to a lower price level. Hilarity Ensues.
Vietnam has a love-hate relationship with its big Northern neighbor slash traditional enemy China. Thousand of years under Chinese influence surely left heavy impact on Vietnamese culture, to the point that the Nguyen Dynasty considered themselves rather than the Qing to be the true successors of the Han civilization. On the other hand, every dynasty but the last one picked up a fight against the contemporary China at least once, with varying results better remembered by the Vietnamese than by their neighbors. As a result, continual struggle for independence forms the core of national spirit, and mistaking a Vietnamese for a Chinese will likely trigger a Berserk Button. Nowadays, the Communist regime looks up to the PRC as the last remaining ideological reassurance but relation between the two has never been truly friendly. The Sino-Vietnamese war of 1979 is still remembered, and sorest points of contention nowadays include possession of the Spratly and Paracel Islands and China's taking over bauxite mining activities in Vietnam, not to mention long-standing border disputes. All seems to fuel the fear that China is about to take over the world, or at least Asia, and she would start with Vietnam.
Relations with the US are likewise uneasy but have been normalized at a surprising rate since 1986, and now ended up even more cordial than with China, in spite of Washington's constant criticism on the state of human rights in Vietnam. Whether Vietnam will open its military port at Cam Ranh to American port calls is a matter of debate, but it's obvious that Vietnam is looking for a counterweight to the growing China threat. With The New Russia swept aside, who could be better suited for the job than that superpower that messed up this land just 35 years ago? Nice tightrope Vietnam's walking there, but then, realist foreign policy makes for strange bedfellows, and—and you might think this odd—Vietnam is, on a people-to-people level, one of the most pro-American countries in Asia (approval ratings for the United States in polls of ordinary Vietnamese people have hovered around 70% since 2012).
To further the point above, Sino-Vietnamese tensions have reached extremely high levels as of mid-2014, thanks to a provocative move by China to place an oil rig within waters that Vietnam claims as its own as well as construction of military airfields on artificial islands in the South China Sea. As a result, Vietnam is now approaching the United States for weapons and a strengthening of foreign relations. Apparently, grudges over the Vietnam War on either side are rapidly fading, if they haven't already.
The government (as mentioned many times) is a unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic. The current Party General Secretary and current President is Nguyễn Phú Trọng, the current Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, the current Chairperson of National Assembly is Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân, the current Vice President Đặng Thị Ngọc Thịnh and the current First Deputy Prime Minister is Trương Hòa Bình.
The Vietnamese flag
Those living where the anti-communist diaspora has a strong presence might see Vietnamese people display instead the flag of the former South Vietnam, left, now officially "The Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag" in some states of America. Do so in Vietnam and you will run into serious trouble with the law and the regime, for obvious reasons. To put it in an American perspective, consider it to be like flying a Confederate flag in a northern state times a hundred. Similarly, the socialist republic flag is an excellent Flame Bait to the South Vietnamese diaspora. In short, both can put you in grave danger if you display them in the wrong place.
The Emblem of Vietnam
The Vietnamese Anthem
DemographyFrom a combined population of around 50 million in 1975, Vietnam now has almost 90 million people. To counter the high growth rate somewhat, there's a two-child-limit imposed on your family if you work for the government; exceed that and be fired.
As a result, two-thirds of the population has no memory of the Vietnam War, which explains why Vietnam has moved on so easily.
There are officially 54 ethnic groups that call Vietnam home, but over 80% of Vietnam's population is made up of lowland Viets, or Kinh people, so if you ever meet a Vietnamese, chances are you're meeting a Kinh.
The next largest group is the Hoa, or Chinese Vietnamese. Like Chinese Malaysians and Chinese folks elsewhere in Southeast Asia, most of them are descended from people in Southern China who emigrated two or three centuries ago. Close to half of the Hoa fled Vietnam during the flare-up between Vietnam and China in 1979 to escape the violent hatred towards ethnic Chinese, but many still remain till this day. For this reason, they're much better presented in overseas communities than in Vietnam itself. In Southern parts of the country they are known colloquially as "Tàu" people, short for "Ba Tàu", meaning "three-shippers" - as the tale goes, they first came here on three big ships which formed distinctive silhouettes against the horizon. Quite a lot of Hoas take offence to this word, unless you're a Hoa yourself.
There are also indigenous lowland people in the South and South-Central of Vietnam, like the Chams, an Austronesian people, and the Khmers (who as noted are the majority people of neighboring Cambodia). Their ancestors boasted prosperous Indianized kingdoms in the past, but their slow decline in the face of ever-southbound Viets has reduced them to insignificant minorities, in both influence and number.
Vietnamese Emigrants WorldwideApproximately 3 million Vietnamese live spread out over the world. The term for them is Người Việt Hải Ngoại (literally "Overseas Vietnamese") or Việt Kiều (literally "Vietnamese Sojourner"), the latter term is usually how they self-identify and the former is the official term used by the Vietnamese government. The vast majority of them are (or are descendants of) refugees from South Vietnam from the end of the Vietnamese War. The Vietnamese refugees fleeing the war are generally referred to as Vietnamese boat people, no matter how it is they fled.
Approximately half of the Overseas Vietnamese live in the United States. In fiction (and in real life) they are associated with working in nail salons. Fascinatingly, this stems from actress Tippi Hedren, who took it upon herself to help refugees from the Vietnam War by having them taught a trade and sending them to beauty school. Unsurprisingly, most Vietnamese in the United States have issues with the current Vietnamese government and are more likely to fly the Southern Vietnamese flag. That said, the majority of them still have family in Vietnam and a great sense of national pride and identity.
Given the nature of French colonialism in Vietnam, it's natural that they have the second largest population of Overseas Vietnamese. Approximately 350,000 Vietnamese live in France, primarily in Paris. Unlike the United State or Australia, they are less likely to live in Vietnamese enclaves and are more disbursed through the population, likely owing to the fact that they have been in France much longer due to their much longer mutual history.
Culture and LanguageVietnamese uses the Latin alphabet rather than scripts like Chinese or Japanese, though it used to use written classical Chinese until the 13th century when a different system, but still quite similar to Chinese writing system, called chữ Nôm was invented. Chữ Nôm developed until it was used extensively in 17th - 19th century. Although Vietnamese was the native language, education and government used Chinese as the official language. Around 17th century, an alphabet system was developed in order to facilitate trade from Western countries, by a French priest called Alexander de Rhodes. As the French invaded Vietnam in the late 19th century, French gradually replaced Chinese as the official language in education and government. Alphabet system pervaded the country, and Chinese scripts were gradually abolished. After gaining independence from France, Vietnam officially decided to use the alphabet as its writing system.
Vietnamese, like many other Asian languages, features tones in its phonology. There are only six tones, level, hanging, sharp, asking, tumbling and heavy. The good thing about Vietnamese phonology is that there is nothing such as exceptions. The rules are rigid. Consonant, vowel, diphthong or triphthong sound the same in every word, hence it is only the matter of recognizing them. If you can recognize and remember all of the possible consonants and vowels (and diphthongs and triphthongs), which aren't that many, then reading a word out loud is just a matter of combining them together. Grade One in Vietnam is spent learning all those possible consonants, vowels, diphthong and triphthong. On the other hand, the tones might pose difficulties for foreign speakers - they almost can never get them right note . Since reading a word out loud is quite easy, so is spelling - though some diphthongs/triphthongs might sound the same like ân and âng in the South. In the North, the distinction is pretty obvious to familiar ears.
There is a bit of differences in Vietnamese spoken by Northern Vietnamese (around Hanoi), North-Central Vietnamese (between Hue and Hanoi), Central Vietnamese (around Hue) and Southern Vietnamese (around Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon), not only in the accents (which are quite distinct and readily recognizable by foreigners) but also in vocabulary and grammar, to the point where they might be considered as separate dialects. To talk in details will be too much for Tv Tropes, but generally, Southern Vietnamese will be sloppier in pronunciation and grammar than Northern Vietnamese (like comparing American English with British English for example). The North-Central and Central Vietnamese, well, good luck with that. The basic vocabulary and the accent are so distinct that even native speakers from the North and the South will have considerable difficulty in understanding them, or might not understand them at all if they speak rapidly (which leads to many, many jokes involving Central Vietnamese speakers by the way, to the point that the accent is considered inherently funny). The distinct difference in Central Vietnamese might be explained by the fact that the region was settled much earlier comparing to the South and able to developed a distinct dialect. The region is also much more conservative, and emigration and immigration are rare which prevents the dialect to be influenced or influence the Northern and Southern counterparts. Northern Vietnamese is considered as the official form, and is presented in textbooks, political propagandas, literature and music, however, outside of Vietnam, Southern variation will often be heard instead (because most refugees from Vietnam came from the South, and overseas students are often from the South because it is richer than the other two regions). Within regions, especially in rural areas where cultural stigma discourages people from migration, there are also further variations.
A few phonetic peculiarities will be listed here. Like l and r in Japanese, some Northern Vietnamese speakers will mess up between l and n, but not for the same reason. l and n are supposed to be distinct in Vietnamese, but because of the Northern accent, sometimes they switch place, with the l sounds like n and vice versa. Depending on the province, tr and ch , r and d and gi, r and v, etc. can also be pronounced very similarly or with little difference.
A few strange consonants and vowels are ng, nh, ă, ư, ơ...
<More to come>
CuisineVietnamese cuisine is perhaps most distinct from other countries in that they use a lot of fresh, green vegetables and herbs. Almost every single meal will include some form of fresh vegetables or herbs, either as clear soup, or stir-fried, or uncooked. A typical Vietnamese meal will include rice, a fish/meat/seafood dish, soup, fish sauce or soy sauce, vegetables (often uncooked) and often some kind of relishes, such as pickled white cabbage, pickled garlic..., which tend to differ between regions. All dishes apart from a bowl of rice are communal and to be shared, like a Japanese or Chinese meal.
Fish is often the cheapest and eaten the most, then 'river' food (as opposed to seafood) and then pork. Chicken is more expensive, and often eaten on special occasions. Beef is the most expensive, and more often than not only eaten in restaurants rather than at home. There is also a wide range of vegetarian foods based on tofu, with many types of tofu, allowing for very creative vegetarian meals that can replace normal meals permanently if a person so wishes.
Vietnamese - notably Hanoian - cuisine is also known for its desserts and treats, such as multiple types of chè (congee), cốm (young rice, a Hanoi specialty in the fall, wrapped in lotus leaves thus giving it an unique flavor) and more rice-based sweet/savory treats than you can imagine. Heck, Hanoians have officially elevated snacking (ăn quà) into an art! (But then again, native Vietnamese do joke that they've elevated swearing and insulting to an art, too...)
There are regional variations in Vietnamese cuisine. Northern Vietnamese are often not bold with flavor, orienting towards a light and balanced flavors for most of its meal, consequently, these meals are often considered as bland by the Southern and Central people. Northern Vietnamese produce many signature dishes of Vietnam, such as phở. Central Vietnamese food is often readily recognized by its spiciness and very elaborate meals, representing its royal past. Southern Vietnamese food are often vibrant with flavor and tend to be sweet. There is also a widespread use of coconut milk, and sauces like fish sauces or soy sauces. Phở regional variations often represented general regional variations. Northern phở flavor is quite mild, and Northern Vietnamese do not put in much additions like vegetables or sauces, Central phở is often quite spicy whereas Southern phở will opt for a sweet taste, with a lot of vegetables and sauces additions. Phở outside of Vietnam often is the Southern variation.
Vietnam (and the Vietnamese Diaspora) in Media:
- A lot of movies from Vietnam that you have probably never heard of
- Tran Anh Hung's Vietnam Trilogy
- French movies like Indochine and L'Amant that take place in early 20th century Vietnam.
- Then flash forward about 40 years and you have The Quiet American.
- Vietnamese criminal activities in Australia are dealt with in Aussie flicks like Romper Stomper and Little Fish, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett respectively.
- Nam Le and Anh Do have written about the journey to Australia by boat.
- Once Upon A Time In Cabramatta is an acclaimed SBS documentary about the Vietnamese community in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta.
- The 2006 film Ultra Violet features Vietnamese people in a sci-fi/fantasy setting perhaps for the very first time.
- Vietnam sent representatives to the Monaco Cup, a world baking competition in Yakitate!! Japan.
- The "Vietnam Special" Top Gear episode deserves special mention.
- Mai Thi Hoang, a.k.a Eternal Feather from Soul Eater Not! is a Vietnamese Butterfly Knife.
- The eighth season premiere of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown takes place in Hanoi (and partially Ha Long Bay, for some reason). Anthony Bourdain emphasizes how little the average American knows about Vietnam outside of the Vietnam War. This episode was filmed when Barack Obama was visiting and features the two eating bun cha. Bourdain's various food/travel shows have all had episodes in Vietnam, and the country holds a special place in his heart.
- Mantis, a minor character from the Marvel Universe is of half-Vietnamese, half-German descent. Also she's an alien messiah. And turns green and joins the Guardians of the Galaxy. Notably, her film incarnation makes her entirely alien and eschews her convoluted (and rather unfortunate) backstory.
- The 1999 film Three Seasons was filmed and takes place in Ho Chi Minh City. It is the first American movie to be filmed in Vietnam after relations between the two countries were formally normalized.
- The 2017 film Downsizing has a Vietnamese political activist turned housecleaner Ngoc Lan Tran played by Hong Chau to be a major supporting character. She is a significant Ensemble Dark Horse in the movie and her actress was nominated for numerous awards.
- For works concerning The Vietnam War, please see that page.
- The 2019 martial arts film Hai Phượng, released internationally as Furie. It broke the record for the highest grossing Vietnamese film in history.
- Bonglord (Real Identity Unknown) (M.I.A) Representing Sydney Youths by doing Legendary Bong Rips and being a mad cunt.
- Ho Xuan Huong (Hồ Xuân Hương), dubbed as the "Queen of Nôm poetry", essentially a Vietnamese, more vulgar version of Jane Austen that focus on poetry. A significant poet born at the end of the later Lê dynasty. She is creditted, along with Nguyen Du, with elevating the status of Vietnamese as a literary language. Her poems are notable for not only for writing in Nôm, her intelligence and social commentary but also for her use of sexual humor, Double Entendre and feistiness against the patriarchal and corrupt society she lived in, which made her popular with the masses and modern audience (who essentially made her into a national hero) as oppose to her Confucius-influenced peers, and has been translated into many languages. There was later some discovery that she also wrote in Classical Chinese, but pretty much everyone except for the most pretentious biographer tends to ignore that.
- Nguyen Du (Nguyễn Du), a poet and Mandarin (a type of feudalistic bureaucrat) of the later Lê dynasty, the Vietnamese version of Dante Alighieri for Nôm. Famous for The Tale of Kiều (Truyện Kiều), a remake of what essentially a trashy romance novel Jin Yun Qiao into an epic poem that is widely regarded as the most significant work of Vietnamese literature and has been translated into many languages. He is creditted, along with Ho Xuan Huong, with elevating the status of Vietnamese as a literary language as the Tale of Kieu is written entirely in Nôm.
- Ho Chi Minh (Hồ Chí Minh), a very controversial figure in modern Vietnamese history depending on who you talk to. A Real Life example of a Tragic Hero with a Tragic Dream.note
- Ngo Dinh Diem (Ngô Đình Diệm), the US-backed president of South Vietnam and Minh's opposite number, later assassinated by one of his own generals during a coup (caused by Diem's oppressive actions towards non-Christians, he was a devout Roman Catholic) near the end of the Vietnam War.
- Vo Nguyen Giap (Võ Nguyên Giáp), Ho's most trusted lieutenant and military leader, christened "the red Napoleon" by the Americans, probably one of the great strategists of the 20th Century (he beat the Japanese, the French, and the U.S. militaries.)
- Ngo Bao Chau (Ngô Bảo Châu), a mathematician at the University of Chicago who won the 2010 Fields Medals.
- Elly Tran Ha, an American-born Vietnamese model, made famous by her well-endowed chest. Notable in that she frequently appears on advertisements for porn sites and dating sites, even though she has never even posed nude.
- Duong Nguyet Anh (Dương Nguyệt Ánh), a chemical engineer, Director of Science and Technology of Naval Surface Warfare Center, U.S. Department of Defense, responsible for the creation of Thermobaric Weapon and a National Security Medallist.
- Philipp Rösler, physician, former Federal Minister of Health of Germany (2009-11), Federal Minister of Economics and Technology of Germany (2011-13), Leader of the Free Democratic Party (2011-13) and Vice-Chancellor of Germany (2011-13). He was born in Vietnam and adopted by a German couple when he was still an infant.
- Le Duc Tho (Lê Đức Thọ), a Vietnamese diplomat and politician who negotiated the Paris Peace Accord (which ended direct involvement of America in Vietnam War) with Henry Kissinger and won a Nobel Peace Prize along with Kissinger for it. He chose to decline the Prize however, stating that there was still no peace in his country.
- Eugene Huu-Chau Trinh, a biochemist and astronaut, Director of the Physical Sciences Research Division in the Biological and Physical Research Enterprise at NASA.
- Nam Le (Lê Nam), a Vietnamese-born Australian writer, winner of the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize for his book "The Boat".
- Minh Le (Lê Minh), Vietnamese-Canadian, software engineer, co-creator of the Half-life mod Counter-Strike.
- Carol Huynh, Vietnamese-Canadian, 2008 Summer Olympics Gold Medallist for woman wrestling.
- Katsuni, half French, half Vietnamese pornographic actress.
- Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Nguyễn Ngọc Trường Sơn), a chess player who attained grandmaster rank at the age of 14.
- Thuy Trang, an actress best remembered as the original Yellow Power Ranger.
- Johnny Tri Nguyen, Vietnamese-born American martial arts actor and stuntman who has appeared in movies like The Rebel and Tom-Yum-Goong
- Anh Do, a Vietnamese-born comedian who has become a successful media personality in Australia.
- Natalie Tran, the Sydney-based Vietnamese-Australian YouTube phenomenon and TV personality behind Community Channel. The Most Viewed YouTuber in Australia.
- Luke Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Australian celebrity chef.
- Michelle Phan, a Vietnamese-American makeup artist/guru YouTuber.
- Nguyen Ha Dong (Nguyễn Hạ Đồng), an indie game developer and maker of Flappy Bird.
- Ali Wong, American-born stand-up comedian and writer for Fresh Off the Boat of Vietnamese and Chinese descent.
- Tila Nguyen, better known as Tila Tequila, a Vietnamese-American musician, model, and reality TV personality.
- Viet Thanh Nguyen (Nguyễn Thành Việt), Vietnamese-born author of 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction The Sympathizer.
- Xanthe Huynh, American-born voice actor. You may recognize her as Haru from Persona 5.
- Le Van Luyen (Lê Văn Luyện), an infamous criminal who killed two adults, a baby and cut off the arm of a little girl to rob their jewelry store. He was only 17 years 10 months old when he committed the crime, and thus narrowly escaped the death sentence and is now serving 18 years in prison. Due to the sheer brutality of his crime, young age, lack of criminal record and the fact that he almost got away to China in the end, he became something of a Memetic Badass and Dark Messiah for youth delinquents in Vietnam.
- Nguyen Nhat Anh (Nguyễn Nhật Ánh), a Vietnamese novelist who specializes in writing for teenagers and young adult. He writes very extensively, with his most significant work is a novel from 1985 and still working today. His works have significant critical and commercial success from Vietnamese to internationally and was adapted into many films and a TV show based on his most famous serial work Kính vạn hoa (Kaleidoscope).
- Bui Tuong Phong (Bùi Tường Phong): If you've ever done 3D modelling, his name should sound familiar: he's the guy who made Phong shading.
- Thích Nhất Hạnh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist. Has written extensive works on Buddhism, peace, and mindfulness. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.
- France Nuyen, mixed-race French/Vietnamese actress.
- Veronica Ngo (Ngô Thanh Vân), Vietnamese actress, singer, and model. Best known overseas as Paige Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and as Hai Phuong in Furie.
- Kelly Marie Tran (Trần Loan), Vietnamese-American actress, played Rose Tico.
- Cassey Ho, Chinese-Vietnamese-American fitness guru.