The new generation of Vietnamese are largely unfamiliar with the devastation the country suffered years ago and should be approached thus. Enjoy your visit to this charming land.
The origins of the Vietnamese people are a combination of the Mongol races of north and east Asia, with Chinese and Indian influences.
The population is surpassed only by Indonesia as Southeast Asia's most heavily populated country. However, Vietnam is the region's most ethnically homogenous country with the Vietnamese making up about 90% of the population.
85% of Vietnam's ethnic-minority population belongs to indigenous groups - the largest of which are Thai and Hmong - who have been settled in the mountainous regions of the country for many centuries.
About 3% of the population is ethnic Chinese living in the urban centres of the South.
Vietnamese language reflects the country's unique mix of racial and cultural origins, with its fusion of monotonic Mon-Khmer, and Tai tonality and grammar.
Having been a Chinese province for over a millenium (111 BC-939 AD), most of the country's governmental, literary, and technical vocabulary comes from the Chinese language.
Though a writing system called Chunom, using partly modified Chinese characters, was developed in the 8th century.
It was a French missionary in the mid-17th century who developed a system of spelling using the Roman alphabet that employed additional signs and several accents to indicate the tones.
The use of this script spread and it was made the official written language by the French in 1910. Called Quoc-ngu or national language, it is now universally learned and written by all Vietnamese.