The people along Vietnam's coast have always been exposed to foreigners as the
water brings people to their shores; the Chinese have also been able to access the
land from their land border. Due to this exposure, the people along the coasts have
a very different history from those people in the mountains; the people along the
coast were in constant contact with the Chinese, whether that be through communication
and trade or war. The people along the coast were also more reliant on the water
as seafood was, and remains common while the rivers from the mountains create very
fertile land on which the people can grow nearly anything, with rice again being
the staple crop; again farming and fishing are common occupations along the coast.
Today the people of the mountains and the coast live much as they have in the past,
but history has altered some aspects of life, while communication, technology, and
politics have helped create a more uniform Vietnamese culture and way of life.
These outside influences brought numerous cultural elements to the people, including
Buddhism (although today most of the people claim to be atheist), while these influences
also helped divide and unify the country at differing times. Historically the country
was divided by both the mountains and the seas, but the land was also divided by
south, middle, and north. With European colonization, vying European powers teamed
with varying parts of the country, truly dividing the people. Eventually this helped
contribute to the Vietnamese War and the eventual takeover of the country by the
Since the communist takeover in 1975 the people have been united as one country,
forming a more cohesive culture and way of life as they fall under one leadership
and government, who has access to all parts of the country due to improved communication
and infrastructure. This government has also altered the culture through economic
programs, such as collective farming and greater industrialization. Due to this
communication the dialects are getting closer and regional foods can now be found
everywhere. However, to accomplish this unification the government has destroyed
numerous aspects of the historic culture and way of life as religion is discouraged
and many people have been moved or displaced in order to work in positions the government
feels are needed.
These government-led processes and changes, along with improved communication and
technology, are slowly shrinking the village life and killing numerous sub-cultures.
However, the Vietnamese culture as a whole is only growing stronger through this
process and as long as the villages continue to survive these sub-cultures will
continue to survive as well.