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The Factors of Vietnam’s Cultural Development

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What is Culture? Culture is the customs, social instructions, art, and achievements. Culture is forever changing, shaped and modified by the changing of the times, the advancement technology, the terrain, and many other factors. As a nation develops and changes so too does its culture. All over the world nations rise and with its own individual civilization and principles that leads to its own distinct culture. Some nations have become a blend of many cultures. This shows that the nation has had a rich history. This essay will go over the examples of how Vietnam’s location, terrain, and weather affected its culture.

Vietnam is one of the last five remaining communist country in the world today. It bases its ideologies off of Marxism and Leninism. The president is the head of the country and the prime minister is the head of the government. Vietnam has three Branches of government the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judiciary branch. It holds elections every five years where everyone the age of 18 and older has the right to vote. The people elect the people’s council and charge them with acting on their behalf of the constitution.

Vietnam is situated on the eastern coast of the mainland Southeast Asia covering an area of about 127,244 square miles, it extended 1,025 north to south and 373 east to west. The capital city is Hanoi Located in the north part of the country. Vietnam is bordered to the north by China, to the east by the Gulf of Tokin, to the south and east by the South China Sea, and to the west by Cambodia and Laos. Its total land border is 2,883 miles and a coastline of 2,140. The climate of Vietnam is dominated by the monsoon season. It has an average temperature between 70 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit with an average humidity around 85 percent. Vietnam is a country of hills, densely forested highlands, and tropical low lands. The current population is 97,473,132 with 35.8 percent living in major cities. The national and official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. Vietnamese has its origins in northern Vietnam. It was originally written in modified set of Chinese characters that were later replaced with written script known as Chữ nôm.

The Vietnam military is one of the largest in the world with an active duty force of 412,000 army personal, 42,000 navy personal, a 40,000 paramilitary border defense corps, and 30,000 air force personal. They also have a 4 million to 5 million Reserve force. Vietnam has had a lot of conflicts over the last century. They fought their French colonial master in 1883-1913, 1916, 1917, 1930-1931, and finally getting their independence in the first Indochina war in 1954. They fought the Japanese in World War 2 on the side of the French. In 1956 the Second Indochina War started and lasted till 1975 with the communist north over taking the south when the United States pulled out of South Vietnam.

The culture of Vietnam is old and heavily influenced by its neighbor china. Vietnam gained its independence from china sometime around the 10th century. After its independence Vietnam began expanding southward. This expansion led to the incorporation of Khmer and Champa cultures. When the French put Vietnam under colonial rule they introduced some western culture, the Latin alphabet, and Christianity. When Vietnam reunified on 30 April 1975 the communist regime place many restrictions on cultural exchanges with the west and focused more on cultural exchanges with other communist regimes like the USSR, China, and Cuba. Despite the centuries some elements of the culture has not changed such as their respect for family values, the devotion to study, their respect for other people, and the veneration of their ancestors.

In Vietnam’s social beliefs individualism is frowned upon, while clan and family are valued above all else. Clans are the most important social unit in Vietnam. Every clan has a head patriarch that advises the clan. Even in these current times it is not uncommon for clan members to live together in longhouses. You may also find three to four generations living in the same home. The members of clans are blood related and often formed villages. These villages were named based on the clan. Early in their history marriages were arranged by the parents. Over the years things have changed and the youth of Vietnam have more freedom on who and when they will marry, but weddings are still held in the traditional manner. The Ceremonies are done with elaborate ceremonies. Funeral ceremonies are long stretched elaborate events. The funeral is attended by friends and families and the mourning rituals for several days after the burial. The amount of rituals has dwindled with the years.

The Vietnamese traditional dress has changed significantly over the years largely on the whims of the current leader. A sample is Áo giao lĩnh is a cross-collared rob worn by Vietnamese males, while an Áo Tứ Thân is a four partd dress worn by females. The colors used have change over the years. The Nón Lá, a conical hat, is the most common hat among the people.

The most people of Vietnam identify with one of these religions Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Catholic followings are starting to grow in the nation. These religions have been a big influence on the arts and literature. Vietnam is also has a very rich tradition of music and dance. The music varies in different parts of the country. It is more formal and traditional in the north while in the south it is livelier style.

In conclusion the culture of Vietnam has changed with the times. The terrain and climate made city life not a necessity for the population. The culture of Vietnam is a mix of Chinese and French influence. The long history of this nation and culture has lead the nation to what it is today. 

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