The Culture of Vietnam, an agricultural civilization based on the cultivation of wet rice, is one of the oldest in East Asia; the ancient Bronze age Dong Son culture is considered to be one of its most important progenitors. Due to the long-term Chinese influence on its civilization, in terms of politics, government and Confucian social and moral ethics, Vietnam is considered to be part of the East Asian Cultural Sphere.
Following independence from China in the 10th century, Vietnam began a southward expansion that saw the annexation of territories formerly belonging to the Champa civilization (now Central Vietnam) and parts of the Khmer empire (today southern Vietnam), which resulted in minor regional variances in Vietnam's culture due to exposure to these different groups.
During French colonial period, Vietnamese culture received merchant influences from the Europeans, including the spread of Catholicism and the adoption of Latin alphabet—to this day, Vietnam is the only non-island nation of Indochina which uses the Latin alphabet to write the national language.
In the socialist era, the cultural life of Vietnam has been deeply influenced by government-controlled media and the cultural influences of socialist programs. For many decades, foreign cultural influences were shunned and emphasis placed on appreciating and sharing the culture of communist nations such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and others. Since the 1990s, Vietnam has seen a greater re-exposure to Asian, European and American culture and media.
Some elements generally considered to be characteristic of Vietnamese culture include ancestor veneration, respect for community and family values, handicrafts and manual labour, and devotion to study. Important symbols present in Vietnamese culture include dragons, turtles, lotuses and bamboo.
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