(Socialist Republic of Vietnam, SRV, Cộng hòa Xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam)
- Location: Southeast Asia (Indochinese Peninsula)
- Capital: Hanoi
- Language(s): Vietnamese
- Population: 90,696,453
- Total Area: 331,698 sq km
- Currency: Dong
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Local wines are made from fermented rice!
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 3.77 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Tea
Located on the eastern side of the Indochinese Peninsula, Vietnam can be described as typical Southeast Asian nation. Its neighbors are Laos, China, Cambodia, the Gulf of Thailand to the west and South China Sea to the east. Subjected to colonization by the Chinese and the French, Vietnam is a nation of brave citizens who have fought suppression for centuries. A bitter struggle for independence led to the famed Vietnam War, which effectively split the nation into two although there was unification after the war and a new nation (the current one) emerged in 1976. Although Hanoi is the capita city, the largest city in the country is Ho Chi Minh City and I found it somewhat hard to distinguish between the two until a local gave me a tip: Hanoi is in the far north while Ho Chi Minh City is in the far south. That is ‘n’ for ‘north’ and ‘c’ for south, ever since, I have never mixed up the two cities.
Vietnam is an ethnically diverse country although it must be mentioned that the ethnic Vietnamese (also known as the Kinh or Viet) make up more than 80% of the country’s population. Most counts put the number of the ethnic groups in the country at over 50, and among these, we have Hmong, Muong, Nung, Chinese, Thai and Dao. Most Vietnamese settle in the fertile river plains and the coastal areas where they can engage in agriculture. The official language in the country is Vietnamese and among the minorities, there are languages like Cham, Chinese, Nung and H’Mong. A vast majority of the people are Buddhists while others are Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Baha’is.
Long before visit the country, I had fallen in love with Vietnamese food after mauling a bowl of banh tam ca ri at a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Vietnamese foods are spicy (like most dishes in Asia) and there is no way you will ignore the meal after taking the first bite. In spicing up their dishes, the Vietnamese make use of mint, basil leaves, lemongrass and many other condiments that will stimulate all your senses. Popular foods in the country include various noodle-based dishes such as bun cha and mi xao don. As the names sound exotic, you will also find them palatable and delicious. My favorite of all time still remains the Vietnamese mint chicken rice –com ga rau thom.
If you want soft drinks, you can buy a bottle of Coca Cola on the streets of Hanoi, However, for those who want to blend in with the locals, you have to try the Vietnamese tea. Mostly green, you can take it with or without milk. There are many cafes in the country where you can enjoy your cup of tea or coffee with your new Vietnamese friends. Alcohol in most places can mean a wine made from fermented rice or the bia hoi, a beer that is brewed locally.
Interesting Things About Vietnam
- The translation of the name of the country means 'South Viet'.
- The area is also referred to as 'Indochina'.
Martial arts are incredibly popular in Vietnam and I was not too surprised anyway as the country is a typical southeast Asian nation. In addition to the martial arts, other sports in the country include football, chess and badminton. In some other communities, tennis is enjoyed by the locals and visitors alike.
Story By World By Shotglass
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).