Vietnamese Norwegian
Norwegian Vietnamese refers to citizens or naturalized residents of Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 of Vietnamese
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...


When this article describes Vietnamese living in Norway, it primarily means persons with two parents born in Vietnam. Thus, statistics used in this article do not include Vietnamese-descended persons with only one parent, or no parents born in Vietnam.


The first waves of Vietnamese immigrants to Norway came after the Fall of Saigon
Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front on April 30, 1975...

, in 1975. They escaped Vietnam by boat
A boat is a watercraft of any size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water will be inland or in protected coastal areas. However, boats such as the whaleboat were designed to be operated from a ship in an offshore environment. In naval terms, a boat is a...

, and were also known as the boat people
Boat people
Boat people is a term that usually refers to refugees, illegal immigrants or asylum seekers who emigrate in numbers in boats that are sometimes old and crudely made...

. Some were picked up by Norwegian cargo ships and came to Norway after spending some months in refugee camp
Refugee camp
A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to receive refugees. Hundreds of thousands of people may live in any one single camp. Usually they are built and run by a government, the United Nations, or international organizations, or NGOs.Refugee camps are generally set up in an impromptu...

s in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. Most of these boat people came in the period from 1978 to 1985. Later immigrants have come as a cause of family-reunification and economic reasons.


As of January 1, 2008, the Norwegian Statistisk Sentralbyrå reported that there were 19,226 Vietnamese people in Norway. Vietnamese Norwegians were the fifth-largest immigrant group after Polish
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

, Pakistani, Iraqi
Iraqi people
The Iraqi people or Mesopotamian people are natives or inhabitants of the country of Iraq, known since antiquity as Mesopotamia , with a large diaspora throughout the Arab World, Europe, the Americas, and...

, and Somali
Somali people
Somalis are an ethnic group located in the Horn of Africa, also known as the Somali Peninsula. The overwhelming majority of Somalis speak the Somali language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family...


The Vietnamese were among the first from the third world
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 to immigrate to Norway. Eight out of ten Vietnamese have lived in Norway for more than ten years, and nine out of ten possess Norwegian citizenship
Citizenship is the state of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national, or human resource community. Citizenship status, under social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities...



Around 5,000 Vietnamese Norwegians live in Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

, where they are the eighth-largest immigrant group. There are also significant groups of Vietnamese living in Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

, Kristiansand
-History:As indicated by archeological findings in the city, the Kristiansand area has been settled at least since 400 AD. A royal farm is known to have been situated on Oddernes as early as 800, and the first church was built around 1040...

, and Trondheim
Trondheim , historically, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. With a population of 173,486, it is the third most populous municipality and city in the country, although the fourth largest metropolitan area. It is the administrative centre of...

. They are the largest immigrant group in Kristiansand, and the second-largest in Bergen and Trondheim.
Number of immigrant with Vietnamese background in some municipalities 1 January 2008


Vietnamese culture
Culture of Vietnam
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...

 places heavy emphasis on education. Even though the elder first generation immigrants in the age of 30 to 44 often don't have a higher education, the second generation
Immigrant generations
The term first-generation [citizen of a country], e.g., "first-generation Ruritanian" may have either of two different meanings:*A citizen of the country who is a naturalized immigrant.or*A citizen whose parents are naturalized immigrants....

, and the younger first generation immigrants from 19 to 24 years old, generally has a much higher education level. A survey from 2006 reported that 88 percent of Vietnamese finished upper secondary school
Education in Norway
Education in Norway is mandatory for all children aged 6–16. The school year in Norway runs from mid August to late June the following year. The Christmas holiday from mid December to early January historically divides the Norwegian school year into two terms...

, the same percent as ethnic Norwegians. A 2006 survey also showed that Vietnamese had the highest grades in upper secondary school among the ten largest non-western immigrant groups in Norway, averaging similar grades as Norwegians.

A 2006 survey showed that Vietnamese was the ethnic group that had the fourth highest percentage whom finished a bachelor degree (after India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

ns, Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

 and Norwegians) and the ethnic group with the third highest percentage whom finished a masters degree. The Vietnamese especially have many representatives in higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

, as there is a 10 percent bigger chance for a Vietnamese-Norwegian having finished higher education than a Norwegian.


Vietnamese in Norway are not active in the country's politics. As of December 2006, there was only one Vietnamese in a municipal council in Norway. At the municipal- and countyelection (kommune- og fylkestingsvalg) in 2003, only 30 percent of the Vietnamese-Norwegians voted. It has been pointed out that though the voting percentage of elder Vietnamese (40 to 59 years old) at 51 % is relatively high - compared to other non-western immigrant groups of the same age (44 %) - it is the younger generation of Vietnamese Norwegians that pull the numbers down. In 2003, only 17% of the Vietnamese Norwegians in the age groups between 18 to 25, and 22% between 26 to 39, voted.

Attachments to home country

As a result of most Vietnamese coming to Norway as political or war refugees fleeing the Communist Vietnam, they are in general critical of the Vietnamese government
Politics of Vietnam
Notwithstanding the 1992 Constitution's affirmation of the central role of the Communist Party, the National Assembly, according to the Constitution, is the highest representative body of the people and the only organization with legislative powers. It has a broad mandate to oversee all government...

. Fleeing the country was viewed as treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

 by the Vietnamese government during the 1970s and 1980s. However, the trend has turned and Vietnam now view the overseas Vietnamese as assets to the country's rapidly growing economy
Economy of Vietnam
The economy of Vietnam is a developing planned-market economy. Since the mid-1980s, through the "Đổi Mới" reform period, Vietnam has made a shift from a highly-centralized planned economy to a socialist-oriented market economy which use both directive and indicative planning . Over that period, the...


The Vietnamese are one of the immigrant groups in Norway that most often send money to families in their home country. Over 60% of those who came to the country as adults reported as regularly sending money home to their families. The number regularly sending money to Vietnam among Vietnamese-born in Norway or arrived in the country as children, were over 40%. The Vietnamese coming to Norway as adults send more and more money, the longer they have stayed in their new country.


Though widely perceived as one of the best integrated
Social integration
Social integration, in sociology and other social sciences, is the movement of minority groups such as ethnic minorities, refugees and underprivileged sections of a society into the mainstream of societies...

 non-western immigrant groups, there still remain some challenges for the Vietnamese community in Norway. A 2002 survey reported that 3.2% of Vietnamese Norwegians had been punished for breaking the law. The number for ethnic Norwegians were 1.35%. A social anthropologist studying the Vietnamese community said there was an "either... or" phenomenon among the Vietnamese, with those not succeeding in school falling into delinquency. The same trend has also been observed among the Vietnamese American
Vietnamese American
A Vietnamese American is an American of Vietnamese descent. They make up about half of all overseas Vietnamese and are the fourth-largest Asian American group....

s. A stronger connection between the parents and the kids that fall out has been wanted. The relative low proficiency among Vietnamese in Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

, and a small vocabulary, has also been analysed as important challenges remaining.

Psychological problems

Many Vietnamese, especially among the older generation, have experienced traumas during and after the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. A survey conducted on 148 randomly chosen Vietnamese refugees, up to three years after arriving in Norway, showed that many of them had experienced war up close. Sixty-two percent had witnessed bombings, fires, and shooting, and forty-eight percent had witnessed someone been injured or killed. One out of four had been in life-threatening situations and/or injured during the war. One out of ten had been in reeducation camp
Reeducation camp
Reeducation camp is the official title given to the prison camps operated by the government of Vietnam following the end of the Vietnam War. In such "reeducation camps", the government imprisoned several hundred thousand former military officers and government workers from the former regime of...

s. Former inmates describe them as close to concentration camps, where they did not know how long they had to stay, and were victims of extreme methods of punishing.

The traumas affected the refugees psychological health even seven years after the war. After three years in Norway, there was still no sign of
change in the psychological strain on the refugees. One out of four had a psychological suffering. Depression was the most common diagnosis, with 18% being clinically depressed
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

. Psychological illness in Norway was linked with traumas experienced during the time in Vietnam, in addition to lack of an entrusted partner during the escape from the country, and severance from close family. One out of three reported post-traumatic worries, and one out of ten were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

See also

  • Vietnamese people
    Vietnamese people
    The Vietnamese people are an ethnic group originating from present-day northern Vietnam and southern China. They are the majority ethnic group of Vietnam, comprising 86% of the population as of the 1999 census, and are officially known as Kinh to distinguish them from other ethnic groups in Vietnam...

  • Norwegian people
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