Vietnam is home to a diverse array of cultural groups, each with its own unique language, customs, and traditions. With a total of 54 ethnic groups, Vietnam’s cultural heritage is rich and varied. Preserving and promoting this cultural diversity is not only a way to fulfill the aspirations of the people, but also a means to build a unified Vietnamese culture that reflects a national identity. Furthermore, it contributes to the overall development of Vietnam.

Despite their differences, these ethnic groups come together in times of natural disasters and external threats, working collaboratively to safeguard and develop the nation. The coexistence and harmonization of these subcultures contribute to the unity and richness of Vietnamese culture.

A rich cultural heritage 

According to the Department of Cultural Heritage, Vietnam is home to 40,000 historical and cultural relics and scenic spots, including 10,000 relics at the provincial and municipal levels, 3,600 national relics, and 130 special national relics. The country also celebrates around 8,000 festivals that showcase local customs, performing arts, crafts, cuisine, and costumes.

Over the years, Vietnam has built a modern museum system consisting of 180 institutions that collectively house over 4 million artifacts, relics, and antiques that reflect local, regional, and national culture. This is a vast improvement from the handful of museums established in the late 19th century.

UNESCO has acknowledged 33 world heritages in Vietnam, 30 of which are classified as cultural heritages. These treasures left by our ancestors are invaluable and demonstrate the deep and significant visual, spiritual, and historical aspects of Vietnamese culture, both past and present.

Cultural heritage promoted 

Throughout Vietnam’s development, cultural heritage has been recognized and valued as a representation of national identity and a valuable resource for national progress. Decree 65, the first decree on cultural heritage preservation signed by President Ho Chi Minh on November 23, 1945, emphasizes the importance of preserving cultural heritage in Vietnam’s national development.

Since then, a range of legal instruments have been introduced to progressively establish a comprehensive and detailed legal framework for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. These include the 2001 Law on Cultural Heritage, the amendments to the 2009 Law on Cultural Heritage, and other legislative provisions aimed at safeguarding and promoting Vietnam’s cultural heritage.

To adapt to societal changes and to establish a legal framework for the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is seeking public input on the revised draft Law on Cultural Heritage.

The revised draft focuses on three key policy areas, one of which is the mobilization of resources for the preservation and promotion of Vietnam’s cultural heritage. It clarifies regulations, introduces new provisions for the “Cultural Heritage Preservation Fund,” and outlines the roles and responsibilities of social organizations in these efforts. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of community management and protection of intangible cultural heritages, with a focus on sustainable development and integration.

The revised Law on Cultural Heritage is scheduled to be presented at the next National Assembly session in 2024.

The responsibility for safeguarding and enhancing cultural heritages lies with the people, who play a pivotal role in the protection, preservation, transmission, and promotion of cultural heritage. Communities living near these heritages have a heightened awareness of their significance, fostering pride and a sense of responsibility for their preservation. The preservation of cultural heritages also adds a distinct character to tourism in each region, contributing to the economic development of provinces and cities in Vietnam.

Culture is the essence of a nation’s identity, the soul that keeps it alive. As long as our culture thrives, our nation will endure.