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Vietnam Religion & Anthropology

The Vietnamese nation was primarily influenced through a process of anthropological cross-pollination between ancient Chinese and Indian cultures.
At present, there are 54 ethnic minority groups inhabiting Vietnam. The Kinh (or Viet) people account for about 83 per cent of Vietnam’s total population, and the people you will see in the towns and cities.
Major ethnic minority groups include the Tay, Thai, Muong, H’Mong, Dzao, and Khmer. Each ethnic group has developed its own language and cultural identity, thus making the Vietnamese culture as a whole a well blended combination of many different religions.
The Viet language is recognized, however, as the official language and serves as a universal means of communication for all inhabitants of Vietnam.
In the historical course of national development, all ethnic groups have been closely attached, sharing in the fight against foreign invaders, defending the country’s territory, and gaining the right to national independence and self determination.

The major religious traditions in Vietnam are Buddhism (which fuses forms of Taoism and Confucianism together), Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Islam, CaoDaism and the Hoa Hao sect.

Buddhism was first introduced to Vietnam in the 4th century B.C… The Buddhist religion reached its peak in the Ly dynasty (11th century). It was then regarded as the official religion dominating court affairs. Buddhism was preached broadly among the population and it enjoyed a profound influence on people’s daily life. Over 70 percent of the population of Vietnam are either Buddhist or strongly influenced by Buddhist practices.

Catholicism was introduced to Vietnam in the 17th century. At present the most densely-populated Catholic areas are Bui Chu-Phat Diem in the northern province of Ninh Binh and Ho Nai-Bien Hoa in Dong Nai province to the South. About 10 percents of the population are considered Catholic.

The Protestant religion was introduced to Vietnam at about the same time as Catholicism. At present most Protestants live in the Central Highlands. There still remains a Protestant church in Hang Da Street in Hanoi. The number of Protestants living in Vietnam is estimated at a mere 400,000.

Islamic followers in Vietnam are primarily from the Cham ethnic minority group living in the central part of Vietnam along the coast. The number of Islamic followers in Vietnam totals about 50,000.

CaoDaism was first introduced to the country in 1926. Settlements of the Cao Dai followers in South Vietnam are located near the Church in Tay Ninh. The number of followers of this sect is estimated at 2 millions.

HoaHaoism was first introduced to Vietnam in 1939. More than 1 million Vietnamese are followers of this sect. Most of them live in the western part of South Vietnam.