Why are there so many Chinese place names in Vietnam?

Why are there so many Chinese place names in Vietnam?

For the Chinese, Vietnam is a magical country. It has received the baptism of Chinese culture, which makes it have strong characteristics of East Asian civilization, but the unique geographical location and the history of being colonized by France give this country its own cultural form, which is worth exploring.

This brings about a fascinating feature of all parts of Vietnam: the fully Latinized text expresses similar or even the same place names as China, which makes people feel very cordial.

What’s going on here?

Even after the Latinization of Vietnamese characters, they still retain the form of brush calligraphy

Regrets of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms

After the founding of the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shihuang was not satisfied with the existing territory model of the old land of the Seven Kingdoms, and developed southward while opening up the Huns’ territory to the north. He sent a large army across the five mountains in the south to occupy today’s Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and other places. The territory that was newly included under the jurisdiction of the Central Dynasty included today’s northern Vietnam (Luo Viet).

After Qin destroyed the Six Kingdoms, it conquered Baiyue in the south and the Xiongnu in the north

Greatly expanded the scale of the Central Plains regime ▼

format,f auto

At that time, Xiang County was the superior unit that managed the North Vietnam area. It administratively established the jurisdiction of the Central Dynasty over North Vietnam. Soldiers and civilians from Qin and the six conquered countries began to enter the closed southern mountainous area and found a foothold. point. This is how Han culture was introduced.

The scope of Xiang County in the Qin Dynasty overlaps with that of Vietnam today. There is not much overlap

The Han Dynasty really expanded southward on the basis of Qin ▼

format,f auto

At the end of the Qin Dynasty, although the elder Zhao Tuo temporarily became self-reliant during the turbulent period, because he was originally an ex-official of the Qin State, Baiyue still absorbed the culture of the Central Plains during the various generations of Nanyue kings, especially the high-level administrative tools such as the official system of writing. gained popularity. Of course, the Central Plains culture here has been localized at this time, gradually merging with Yue culture.

Nanhai Commandery Zhao Tuo merged Guilin and Xiang Commanderies to establish the Nanyue Kingdom.

Zhao Tuo’s Heji Baiyue Policy

Promoted the integration of Central Plains people and South Vietnamese people ▼

format,f auto

It can be said that the Nanyue Kingdom contributed a lot to the spread of the Central Plains culture

Students who go to Guangzhou must go to the Nanyue Palace Museum of the Western Han Dynasty

At the same time, the territory of South Vietnam continued to expand . By the time Emperor Wu of the Han pacified the Nanyue Kingdom, its territory had expanded to central Vietnam, and continued to expand after Emperor Wu.

After the Western Han Dynasty destroyed the Nanyue Kingdom, nine counties were established

Some scholars believe that the territory of the late Nanyue Kingdom is equivalent to the jurisdiction of the nine counties▼

format,f auto

After the troubled times of the Wei and Jin Dynasties, to the Tang Dynasty, due to the large-scale development activities in the Red River Basin, its level of development was even comparable to that of the Pearl River Basin at that time.

However, with the war at the end of the Tang Dynasty and the self-reliance of the various envoys, the central and northern part of Vietnam gradually broke away from the control of the Central Plains Dynasty. By the Northern Song Dynasty, it had become de facto independent. Although the Ming Dynasty once resumed its rule over northern Vietnam, it was lost soon after.

During the period of the late Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties, Yuebei still relied on Jiedushi to stand on its own

But the Vietnamese are the chief executive, and in fact have autonomy ▼

format,f auto

Although the political system of North Vietnam is separated from the central dynasty, in terms of the development of the cultural system, Vietnam is still carrying out the localization and inheritance of Han culture. The most typical representative is a set of “Little China System” implemented by Vietnam in Southeast Asia, which requires other countries to pay tribute to itself while paying tribute to the Celestial Dynasty.

This is also reflected in the fields of characters and place names. The most striking thing is that the word “Vietnam” is the title of the country bestowed by Emperor Jiaqing.

Emperor Ruan wanted to be granted the title of “South Vietnam”, which was considered “ambitious”

Therefore, it was vetoed by Emperor Jiaqing and was named “Vietnam”.

(Picture: wiki)▼

format,f auto

What is a place name in Vietnam

There are some subtle differences between the administrative divisions of Vietnam and China. Similar to China, a three-level administrative division system is also implemented.

The first level is divided into provinces and municipalities directly under the central government. The administrative level is similar to the provincial level in my country, but in terms of area, it is only equivalent to ordinary prefecture-level cities in my country;

Vietnam is a small place but has 63 provincial-level administrative regions

Compared with China’s provinces, it looks very small ▼

format,f auto

At the second level, provinces are divided into provincial cities, municipalities, and counties, and central municipalities are divided into counties, municipalities, and counties. The administrative level is equivalent to the county level in my country, and the scale is also equivalent to the county level in my country. Among them, counties are equivalent to urban areas, municipalities are equivalent to county-level cities, and counties are equivalent to ordinary counties;

READ ALSO: Xiaomi Mijia electronic blood pressure monitor is now on sale

At the third level, counties are divided into communes and towns; provincial municipalities and municipalities are divided into communes and communes; Streets, and towns are equivalent to towns, and societies are equivalent to townships.

In order to efficiently manage nearly 100 million people

The scientific nature of administrative divisions is particularly important ▼

format,f auto

In fact, it can also be seen from the administrative division that the unit such as “Fang” is obviously derived from the Lifang system of urban management in ancient my country. Words such as “state” and “county” show that the penetration of Han culture is significant at the administrative level of Vietnam.

In terms of specific place names, the extent to which Vietnam borrows from China is not shallow.

It is worth mentioning that King Anyang . According to legend, the word “Anyang” is the title of the prince of the ancient Shu Kingdom, and has nothing to do with Anyang, Henan Province, China. One theory of the origin of its name is the Kalu River (anciently called Anshui) in Vietnam, because the king’s city is located in the north On the side, according to the naming habits of the Chinese character cultural circle, it is named Anyang (the same is true for Luoyang in China).

King An Duong established the capital, Colo Citadel, 35 kilometers north of Hanoi today.

Cổ Loa (Cổ Loa) means “old snail” because of its shape resembling a snail shell.

(Picture: wiki)▼

format,f auto

Perhaps because of the relocation of the capital, there are two relics related to King Anyang in Vietnam, one is the Guangming Society in Mi Ling County, Yongfu Province, and the other is the Guluo Society in Dongying County, Hanoi City, where the Anyang King was built. Wang Temple. The various Anyang place names in Vietnam, such as Anyang Society in Lishi County, Vinh Phuc Province, Anyang Fang in Lezhen County, Haiphong City, and Anyang Town in Anhai County, are enough to show the profound influence of the word “Anyang” on Vietnam.

The naming rule of “Shannan, Shuibei is called Yang” is a common relic of Han culture, and it has already worked for the ancient Yue people.

Ancient Lo City is the capital of Ou Luo State (the name of Vietnam at that time)

Luocheng in Sichuan (now Guanghan) is said to have a relationship with the people of Ouluo

After the Central Plains Dynasty went south, it set up counties and counties here, leaving behind some names that collide with the current administrative divisions of our country. For example, Xianyou County in Bac Ninh Province collided with Xianyou County in Fujian Province; Dongxing County in Taiping Province collided with Dongxing County in Guangxi Province.

The Sun Wu regime of the Three Kingdoms had a strong control over northern Vietnam and set up Wu Ning County here, which is the same as Wu Ning in Jiangxi today.

During the Western Jin Dynasty, Nanding County was set up, and later changed to Wu’an County, which is the same as Wu’an County in Hebei.

The influence of ancient China on Vietnam can be described as very profound ▼

format,f auto

During the Sui, Tang and Five Dynasties, this was the final stage of the Central Plains Dynasty’s long-term large-scale rule over North Vietnam. There were Tzu Lien County, Huaide County, Xin’an Prefecture, Anren County, Wu’e Prefecture, etc., and Xin’an Prefecture had the same name as Xin’an in Henan Province.

It is worth noting that Yanzhou was established during the Zhenguan period of the Tang Dynasty, and Yanzhou County is still left today. This is the only place name in Vietnam that has been used for more than 1,200 years and has been basically uninterrupted. Investigating its source, it seems to be related to the nomenclature of rivers.

cute little coastal county

(Picture: wiki)▼

format,f auto

format,f auto

Sometimes in Vietnam, like the Central Plains Dynasty, place names were renamed due to taboos. Among them, some of them were renamed because of the emperors of the Central Plains Dynasty. For example, the name of Li Yuan in Longyuan County in Tang Dynasty was changed to Longbian. During the period, Wuning County was changed to Wujiang County because of avoiding Zhuangzong Li Weining’s taboo.

There is also Xin’an mentioned above, which was also changed from Xin’an Prefecture to Xian’an Prefecture during the Le Dynasty to avoid the taboo of Jingzong Li Weixin . Another reason is that there is also a reason for the alienation of pronunciation. This place name has been preserved today, in Tien An County, Quang Ninh Province.

Major cities collide

Most of the place names with Chinese flavor mentioned above are very low-level place names, and not everyone in Vietnam will know them. In China, it takes a geography expert to understand them. But in the magical Vietnam, there are also many high-level place names for car crashes that we like to see.

First of all, we have to talk about the capital of Vietnam. In history, the Li Dynasty followed the example of the Tang Dynasty and called its capital Chang’an.

Today’s capital, Hanoi, is one of the most important cities in Vietnam. It is unavoidably reminiscent of Hanoi in ancient China. Hanoi in a broad sense includes today’s vast northern Henan region, while Hanoi in a narrow sense refers specifically to Qinyang.

Hanoi trains pass through the city

The origin of the word Hanoi in Vietnam is obviously influenced by the naming principles of Han culture. However, this term appeared very late. A few years before the outbreak of the Opium War in China, Emperor Ming Ming of the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam used this place as his accompanying capital. Because “the city is surrounded by the Red River embankment”, it was called Hanoi, and it is still used today.

By the way, there is a big lake in Hanoi called West Lake…

The other is Taiyuan. In China, Taiyuan is the capital city of Shanxi Province, while in Vietnam, there is not only Taiyuan City, but also Taiyuan Province. China’s Taiyuan was named after the “Great Yuan” in the Taiyuan Basin, while Vietnam’s Taiyuan was first named when the Li Dynasty was established during the Song and Liao Dynasties.

It is a bit of a coincidence that Taiyuan is an important industrial city in China, and Taiyuan in Vietnam is also an important industrial city in Vietnam, and the main industrial products produced between the two are also similar, all of which are steel (Taiyuan in Vietnam is also called steel All). In terms of enterprises, China has Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group, Vietnam has Taiyuan Iron and Steel Company, and in terms of universities, China has Taiyuan Normal University, and Vietnam has Taiyuan Normal University, which makes people confused.

Tai Nguyen, Vietnam (Vietnamese: Thành phố Thái Nguyên)

Derived from the temple name “Ruan Shengzu” of Ming Ming Emperor of Nguyen Dynasty

(越南语:Nguyen Thanh To)

There is also Chongqing, once the accompanying capital of China, which has suddenly become popular in recent years with its image of a three-dimensional magic forest. In Vietnam, there is also a place named Chongqing, which is Chongqing County in Gaoping Province. Perhaps many people have not heard of it, but this Chongqing County is located on the Sino-Vietnamese border.

The most famous scenic spot there is also the location of many film and television dramas, Detian Waterfall. On the Chinese side, it is located in Daxin County, Chongzuo, Guangxi, China, but the waterfall spans the two countries and is actually part of the Guichun River (the border river between China and Vietnam). Detian Waterfall is only the Chinese section where the Guichun Jiehe River forms a waterfall, while the Vietnamese part is called the Vietnamese Banyue Waterfall, which is located in Chongqing County, Vietnam .

In addition to place names such as Hanoi, Taiyuan, and Chongqing, there are other well-known place names that also clash with China, such as Henan Province, Shanxi City, Xining City, Gaoping Province, Xing’an Province, and Binh Thuan Province in Vietnam. China has some origins.

It is worth noting that most of these place names are structurally similar to Chinese place names, resulting in a strong Chinese flavor and even hitting faces. They are not completely borrowed, and seldom directly use Chinese inherent place names for imitation. This is different from the Chinese place names on the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul (now Seoul) in South Korea is actually full of cherry blossoms

Moreover, most of these place names appear near the Red River Basin, as well as the northern and central regions of Vietnam, while in the southern region, because there is not much intersection with the Central Plains Dynasty in history, there are still piles of pure Vietnamese flavors of the Austronesian language family. Place names, such as Buon Ma Thuot, Nha Trang, Pleiku, Ba Ria Vung Tau, etc.

If you can still glimpse the customs of Guangdong and Guangxi in Hanoi, a Vietnamese region

When it comes to central and southern Vietnam, it is a more recognizable humanistic appearance

Vietnam, which has a huge north-south span, also has obvious differences between the north and the south, which has been fully exposed in the place names.

Vietnam, like North Korea and South Korea, is a country that has been severely desinicized, but unlike North Korea and South Korea, which abolished Chinese characters and changed place names at the same time, Vietnam basically did not use any knives on place names.

Although the place names are still these place names, the Vietnamese characters have been Latinized, and young people can hardly use Chinese characters to write the place names of their hometowns.

Whether it is Chinese or Latin, the same emotion is written


  • [1] Hua Linfu. A Brief Discussion on the Influence of Chinese Place Name Culture on Vietnam [J]. Studies on Nanyang Issues, 2001, 2:49-57.

  • [2] Chen Jihua. A Preliminary Study on the Etymological Classification of Vietnamese Place Names [J]. Southeast Asian Studies, 2010, 2:85-88.

  • [3] Guo Shengbo. Ancient traces in Vietnamese place names [J]. Jinan Journal (Philosophy and Social Science Edition), 2013, 1:19-27.

* The content of this article is provided by the author and does not represent the position of the Earth Knowledge Bureau