Vietnam is a developing country located in the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The roots of it date back from ancient Chinese dynasties, and over the centuries it was the stage of considerable socio-political turmoil that shaped its landscape towards what it is today. The mix of Asian origins with recent European and Western influences has carved the rich and unique culture of contemporary Vietnam. Today, this fast-growing economy is a cosmopolitan curiosity with many interesting facts and history. Here are some of the lesser-known facts about Vietnam.
The Vietnamese language uses characters from the Latin alphabet
Vietnamese language is tone-based and belongs to the Vietic language group. Although its origins were highly influenced by the Chinese language, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar only share a vague resemblance. Vietnamese alphabet is completely different from other East Asia countries; it is actually very similar to the Latin because it was developed by a French Catholic priest in the 17th century. Europeans may be able to identify and read a few Vietnamese characters, but it’s still challenging to understand a full Vietnamese script for anyone unfamiliar with a tonal language.
Water Puppet Theater
Water puppetry is a form of theater unique to Vietnam with roots dating back from the 11th century. Originally, it was a ritual performed in flooded rice fields to satisfy the spirits people believed to control their lives. Over the centuries, this ritual has become one of the most important entertainments and art forms of the country, and today it is an intrinsic element of its culture. Contemporary water puppetry is performed on a proper stage, accompanied by traditional music and Cheo singing; wood carved puppets, animated by puppeteers hidden behind a screen, move and dance in a stage of water as if they were magically standing on it; themes commonly revolve around Vietnamese folklore and rural life.
People riding motorcycles are stalked
People riding motorcycles are more likely to be stalked than in any other place in the world. This is a good thing because it often means that something is wrong with one’s motorcycle and someone else, who spotted the problem, follows the deficient vehicle to alert and help the driver fix the problem. A culture of mutual care and support has risen among the Vietnamese motorcyclists, it may be due to the fact that 70% of the Vietnamese population owns motorcycles; roughly 10 million of these vehicles circulate every day through the streets of Vietnam.
Vietnamese keep potbelly pigs as pets
These animals are commonly domesticated in Vietnam just like Western domesticated dogs or cats. When the owners don’t want these animals to reproduce, they resort to spaying and neutering. Unfortunately, these animals are also at the mercy of abandonment if they grow too big.
The literacy rate of Vietnam is over 90%
The Vietnamese literacy rate is extremely high for a developing country. Primary education is free for all children, but additional expenses with uniforms or books are still a barrier for the poorest children. Nowadays, the education system is going through a major overhaul to face its current crisis.
For these and many other reasons, Vietnam stands as one of the most peculiar countries in East Asia. Food, culture, people, geography and climate, it’s all part of a major melting pot that has settled into a diversified and beautiful land that allures the most adventurous and fearless foreigners.