According to many historical experts, there has been more than 20 changes to the country’s name since the primordial period. Generally, the country’s name is made up of some words that define an area or region of Vietnam.
To understand what Vietnam means, one must remember when the country’s land was first established. Even though the word “Vietnam” appeared in many ancient documents in the 14th century, it only became the nation’s official name in 1840. We hope this article will help to answer “What does Vietnam mean?”.
The Meaning of Vietnam
As a matter of fact, “Vietnam” is a combination of two Vietnamese words. “Viet” in the ancient Vietnamese language, meaning descendants of a dragon soaring to the sun, and “Nam” means of the southern territory.
However, the word “Viet” can also be understood as moving away from something in ancient Chinese. Some people believe that Vietnam stands for a group of people in ancient China (before the formation of the Chinese Empire). In the Bronze Age, they moved to a new land in the southern area (from the south of the Yangtze River to the northern borders of Vietnam today).
These people had created a distinctive cultural identity at Song Hong (the Red River Basin) in Vietnam. They continuously fought against the powerful Chinese Empire to protect their territory for over 1,000 years. They were the Vietnamese’s ancestors in the present day.
Read about Different Vietnam Ethnicities
When the Name Vietnam was First Recorded
In 1802, Emperor Gia Long officially adopted the word “Vietnam” in the Nguyen Dynasty. The king first named the country “Nam Viet,” which was similar to another ancient name in China, so he changed it to “Viet Nam.” However, Emperor Minh Mang altered the nation’s name to “Dai Nam” in 1834, which means a great country in the south. The word “Vietnam” was slowly losing popularity until patriots and historians brought it up again in historical documents at the end of the 19th century.
On March 9th, 1945, a Japanese coup took over Vietnam from the French colonial government and authorized Emperor Bao Dai, the last king of feudatory dynasties in Vietnam, to control the country. He declared the country as “De Quoc Viet Nam”. After the Japanese government’s defeat in the August Revolution and Emperor Bao Dai was forced to give up his position, President Ho Chi Minh officially read the Independence Declaration of Vietnam on September 2nd, 1945, and asserted the nation’s name as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In 1976, Congress institutionalized the title and replaced it with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which remains Vietnam’s official name in the present day.
Conclusion on What Does Vietnam Mean
The Vietnamese proudly take pride in the extraordinary cultural origin, ancient traditions, and the great country of the people in a southern land. Vietnamese are always hospitable and friendly, welcoming visitors and adventurers to the country.
You can read more about Vietnam’s history in our other articles: