- United States
- 1,223,736 (2000)
|Religion||Predominantly Confucian and Buddhist, with Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hoa Hao and Cao Dai minorities|
|Related ethnic groups||
- Muong people , Gin people of China
The Vietnamese people (Vietnamese: người Việt) is an ethnic group originating from northern Vietnam and southern China. They are the majority ethnic group of Vietnam, comprising close to 90% of the population, and are officially known as Kinh to distinguish them from other ethnic groups in Vietnam. They speak the Vietnamese language.
According to legend, the first Vietnamese descended from the dragon lord, Lạc Long Quân and a heavenly spirit Âu Cơ. They married and had one hundred eggs, which hatched to one-hundred children. Their eldest son Hùng Vương ruled as the first Vietnamese king. The predecessors of the Vietnamese people emigrated from present southern China to the Red River delta and mixed with the indigenous population.
In 258 BC An Dương Vương founded the kingdom of Âu Lạc, in North Vietnam. In 208 BC, Chao Tuo (known as Triệu Đà in Vietnamese), a former Qin general from China, allied with with the leaders of the Yue peoples in modern-day Guangdong and declared himself King of Southern Yue. He defeated An Dương Vương and then combined Âu Lạc with territories in southern China and named his kingdom Nam Việt, or Southern Yue (南越). Nam means south. Việt is a derivation of yuet 越, the pronounciation of Yue in ancient Chinese and some modern southern Chinese dialects. The term was used for various peoples in the region south of China, including the regions of northern Vietnam.
Originally from northern Vietnam, the Vietnamese have conquered much of the land belonging to the Champa Kingdom and Khmer Empire over the centuries. They are the dominant ethnic group in most provinces of Vietnam, and constitute a significant portion of the population of Cambodia. Under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, they were the most persecuted group. Tens of thousands were murdered in regime-organized massacres. Most of the survivors fled to Vietnam.
During the 16th century, some Vietnamese migrated north into China; although somewhat Sinicized, their descendants still speak Vietnamese and form the Gin people of China.
When the French left Vietnam in 1954, some Vietnamese people immigrated to France. As a result of the partition of North and South Vietnam, about 2 million northern Vietnamese migrated to the south to escape persecution.
The end of the Vietnam War prompted many others to leave the country. Most resettled in North America, Western Europe and Australia. The United States has a large Vietnamese-American community.