Largest Ethnic Groups In Vietnam

Traditional dresses on display in northern Vietnam.
Traditional dresses on display in northern Vietnam.

Vietnam is a country in South East Asia with a population of approximately 89 million people, according to a 2013 World Bank report. The nation has over 50 ethnic groups living in the country and therefore it is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Vietnam was under Chinese rule for 1000 years and hence some aspects of Vietnamese culture such as Confucianism are borrowed from Chinese traditions. Vietnam people are deeply rooted in traditional religious beliefs. Ancestor worship is a common practice in the country. The ethnic divide is made up of one predominant group and many minority groups. Kinh makes up the largest ethnic group at 85% of the population. Other significant minority groups include Tay at 1.9%, Thai at 1.8%, Muong at 1.5%, and Khmer Krom at 1.5 % of the population.


The Kinh people are the predominant Ethnic group in Vietnam, with 85% of the population in the country being Kinh. They are also known as Viet ethnic group. Kinhs speak Vietnamese, the official language in Vietnam. A popular myth says that Kinh people originated from the marriage between a dragon and a fairy heavenly angel. The couple had 100 children who multiplied to the current Kinh people. Kinhs practice ancestor worship alongside such East Asian religions as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. A small group of Kinhs practice Christianity. They live in patriarchal families. The Kinh people have a wealth of proverbs, folk tales, songs and dances that help in the preservation of their traditions. The people practice wet rice cultivation on the fertile deltas and coastal plains. They also rear animals such as pigs, cattle, and chicken.


The Tay people make up close to 2% of Vietnam's population. They are the second largest ethnic group in the nation. They live on fertile plains where they cultivate rice and keep cattle and poultry as well. Rice is a staple food for the Tay people. The Tay community practice traditional religious beliefs including ancestor worship. They have rich folk songs and dance they perform during festivities and when they have visitors. Tay people use the lunar calendar.


Thai people account for approximately 1.8% of the Vietnamese population. They are the third largest ethnic group in the country. Thais originated from South East Asia where their ancestors still live to date. They cultivate rice, corn and other subsistence crops. Their staple food is rice. Thais celebrate the New Year’s festival using the lunar calendar.


The Muong people are an ethnic minority who live in the mountainous regions of Vietnam. The Muong constitute 1.5% of the total population in the country. They have close ties to the Kinh people. This ethnic group speaks Muong language which is close to Vietnamese. They live in a patriarchal social system where only males own property. Muong people practice agriculture where they cultivate rice, raise pigs, chicken, and cattle. Muong worships ancestors and other supernatural spirits.

Regional Distribution of Ethnic Groups

The predominant ethnic group in Vietnam is the Kinh people who mainly occupy deltas and coastal plains. Ethnic minorities occupy the highland regions of Vietnam. Kinhs exert influence on the nation’s minority groups. The minorities feel discriminated against by the government. Despite these differences, the country has remained united. There are other minority ethnic groups in Vietnam which include the Hmong (1.3%), Nung (1.2%), Chinese or Hao (1%), and Dao (0.9%), while other groups collectively constitute 3% of the population.

Largest Ethnic Groups In Vietnam

RankEthnic GroupShare of Vietnamese Population
1Kinh (Viet)85.7%
5Khmer Krom1.5%
8Chinese (Hoa)1.0%

Others3.0% combined

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