The Vietnamese people or the Kinh 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. The earliest recorded name for the ancient Vietnamese people appears as 'Lac'. Although geographically and linguistically labeled as Southeast Asians, long periods of Chinese domination and influence have placed the Vietnamese culturally closer to East Asians, or more specifically their immediate northern neighbours, the Southern Chinese and other tribes within the South China. The word Viet is shortened from Bach Viet, a name used in ancient times. Nam means 'south'. If regarded as a single ethnic group, the Vietnamese constitute one of the world's largest with 77 million people.