About Vietnam :: Country

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Vietnam; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia

Climate

Tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)

Terrain

Low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest

Elevation

lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m

Geo Notes

Extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
conventional short form: Vietnam
local long form: Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam
local short form: Viet Nam
abbreviation: SRV

Capital City

name: Hanoi

Administrative Divisions

58 provinces (tinh, singular and plural) and 5 municipalities (thanh pho, singular and plural)
provinces: An Giang, Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Bac Lieu, Bac Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ben Tre, Binh Dinh, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Cao Bang, Dac Lak, Dac Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Ha Nam, Ha Tinh, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hoa Binh, Hung Yen, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Kon Tum, Lai Chau, Lam Dong, Lang Son, Lao Cai, Long An, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Ninh Binh, Ninh Thuan, Phu Tho, Phu Yen, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Ninh, Quang Tri, Soc Trang, Son La, Tay Ninh, Thai Binh, Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, Thua Thien-Hue, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, Tuyen Quang, Vinh Long, Vinh Phuc, Yen Bai
municipalities: Can Tho, Da Nang, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City

Natuaral Hazards

Occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta

Environmental Issues

Logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices contribute to deforestation and soil degradation; water pollution and overfishing threaten marine life populations; groundwater contamination limits potable water supply; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

Infectious Diseases

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and plague
water contact disease: leptospirosis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country

Life Expectancy

total population: 71.94 years
male: 69.48 years
female: 74.69 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.115 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Legal System

Based on communist legal theory and French civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Illicit Drugs

Minor producer of opium poppy; probable minor transit point for Southeast Asian heroin; government continues to face domestic opium/heroin/methamphetamine addiction problems despite longstanding crackdowns

Telephone System

general assessment: Vietnam is putting considerable effort into modernization and expansion of its telecommunication system
domestic: all provincial exchanges are digitalized and connected to Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City by fiber-optic cable or microwave radio relay networks; main lines have been increased, and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly
international: country code - 84; a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3, the C2C, and Thailand-Vietnam-Hong Kong submarine cable systems; the Asia-America Gateway submarine cable system, scheduled for completion by the end of 2008, will provide new access links to Asia and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)

Broadcast Media

Government controls all broadcast media exercising oversight through the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC); government-controlled national television provider, Vietnam Television (VTV), operates a network of 9 channels with several regional broadcasting centers; programming is relayed nationwide via a network of provincial and municipal TV stations; law limits access to satellite TV but many households are able to access foreign programming via home satellite equipment; government-controlled Voice of Vietnam, the national radio broadcaster, broadcasts on 6 channels and is repeated on AM, FM, and shortwave stations throughout Vietnam (2008)

Vietnam location map
Size

total: 331,210 sq km
land: 310,070 sq km
water: 21,140 sq km

Picture of Vietnam flag
Population

89,571,130 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese

Ethnic Groups

Kinh (Viet) 86.2%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.7%, Muong 1.5%, Khome 1.4%, Hoa 1.1%, Nun 1.1%, Hmong 1%, others 4.1% (1999 census)

Languages Spoken

Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

Religions Practiced

Buddhist 9.3%, Catholic 6.7%, Hoa Hao 1.5%, Cao Dai 1.1%, Protestant 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, none 80.8% (1999 census)

HIV/AIDS Rate

0.5% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

2 September 1945 (from France)

National Holiday

Independence Day, 2 September (1945)

Government Type

Communist state

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

20.834 million (2008)

Internet Hosts

129,318 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.vn

Background

The conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by Communist forces under Ho Chi MINH. Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the Communist North and anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under Communist rule. Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies, the persecution and mass exodus of individuals - many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants - and growing international isolation. However, since the enactment of Vietnam's "doi moi" (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The Communist leaders, however, maintain control on political expression and have resisted outside calls to improve human rights. The country continues to experience small-scale protests from various groups, the vast majority connected to land-use issues, calls for increased political space and the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. Various ethnic minorities, such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region, have also held protests.

Economy Overview

Vietnam is a densely-populated developing country that in the last 30 years has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy. Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic liberalization and international integration. They have moved to implement the structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive export-driven industries. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007 following more than a decade-long negotiation process. WTO membership has provided Vietnam an anchor to the global market and reinforced the domestic economic reform process. Agriculture's share of economic output has continued to shrink from about 25% in 2000 to about 21% in 2009. Deep poverty has declined significantly and Vietnam is working to create jobs to meet the challenge of a labor force that is growing by more than one million people every year. The global recession has hurt Vietnam's export-oriented economy with GDP growing less than the 7% per annum average achieved during the last decade. In 2009 exports fell nearly 10% year-on-year, prompting the government to consider adjustments to tariffs to limit the trade deficit. The government has used stimulus spending, including a subsidized lending program, to help the economy through the global financial crisis, and foreign donors have pledged $8 billion in new development assistance for 2010. Domestic investment grew 16% while committed foreign direct investment fell 70%, a steep reduction after 5 years of growth. Nevertheless, the weaker economy, current account deficit, and subdued foreign investment environment means Vietnam's managed currency, the dong, faced downward pressure through 2009, leading the government to devalue it by more than 5% in December.

National Anthem

name: "Tien quan ca" (The Song of the Marching Troops)
lyrics/music: Nguyen Van CAO
note: adopted as the national anthem of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945; it became the national anthem of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976; although it consists of two verses, only the first is used as the official anthem

Location map for Vietnam
Also In Vietnam
Number of Destinations: 1,685
Number Airports

44 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 37
over 3,047 m: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2010)

Number Heliports

1 (2010)

Railways

total: 2,347 km
standard gauge: 178 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 2,169 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)

Roadways

total: 171,392 km
paved: 125,789 km
unpaved: 45,603 km (2008)

Inland Waterways

17,702 km (5,000 km navigable by vessels up to 1.8 m draft) (2008)

Ports & Terminals

Cam Pha Port, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu My, Quy Nhon

National Budget

revenues: $24.79 billion
expenditures: $33.76 billion (2009 est.)

Account Balance

-$7.44 billion (2009 est.)
-$10.79 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange Rates

dong (VND) per US dollar - 17,740.8 (2009), 16,548.3 (2008), 16,119 (2007), 15,983 (2006), 15,746 (2005)

Inflation Rate

7% (2009 est.)
23.1% (2008 est.)

Main Industries

Food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, paper

Agricultural Products

Paddy rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; poultry; fish, seafood

Labor Force

46.51 million (April 2009 est.)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 51.8%
industry: 15.4%
services: 32.7% (April 2009)

Unemployment Rate

6.5% (April 2009 est.)
4.7% (2008 est.)

GDP (USD Parity)

$256.5 billion (2009 est.)
$243.6 billion (2008 est.)
$229.2 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$2,900 (2009 est.)
$2,800 (2008 est.)
$2,600 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 29.8% (2006)

Family Income Gini

37 (2004)
36.1 (1998)

Below Poverty

12.3% (2009 est.)

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