The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia. It borders China, Laos, Cambodia, and the Gulf of Tonkin.

Cộng Ha X Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: ộc lập, tự do, hạnh phc (Independence, Liberty, Happiness)
Official language Vietnamese
Capital Hanoi
President Tran Duc Luong
Prime Minister Phan Van Khai
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 65th
329,560 km²
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 14th
 - Declared
 - Recognised
From French rule
September 2, 1945
Currency Dong
Time zone UTC +7
National anthem Tien Quan Ca (The Troops are Advancing)
Calling Code84

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links


Main article: History of Vietnam

France occupied all of Vietnam by 1884, ruling it as a colony as a part of Indochina, until expelled by Japan in World War II, After the war, France, with the collaboration of the USA, attempted to regain control of the country, but Nationalist forces, that had originally fought against the Japanese invasion, declared independence. The French were defeated in 1954 by forces under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh, notably in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. With the French defeat in the battle and its surrender the First Indochina War (1946-1954) came to an end. At a Geneva Conference Vietnam was partitioned, ostensibly temporarily, into a Northern and Southern zones, with a General election to be held in June 1956 (Art. 3), and the prohibition of introducing foreign troops (Art. 4). The partition forced about two million North Vietnamese to migrate to the South as the communist north began to implement radical land reforms.

Backed by the United States, the southern government headed by Ngo Dinh Diem refused to open consultation with the North Vietnamese concerning general elections when the date for these fell due in July 1955. (verbatim from the Pentagon Papers) on grounds that Ho Chi Minh will have a significant support in the north, basically because they implemented a massive agrarian reform that result in poor peasants gaining ownerships of the land, reform that the south did not implement, losing key peasant support. The south refused to abide to the Geneva Conference and was declared a Republic. This move was followed by the declaration on North Vietnam as a country by Ho Chi Minh.

Economic and military aid from the United States 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 (see Vietnam War). Two years later North Vietnamese forces overran the South. In all, the war ended at a loss of about 3.8 million lives. Economic reconstruction of the reunited country has proven difficult.


Main article: Politics of Vietnam

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is governed through a highly centralized system dominated by the Vietnamese Communist Party (Đảng Cộng Sản Việt Nam). As the force controlling the system, the party exercises leadership in all matters. The government manages state affairs through a structure that parallels the party's apparatus, but it is incapable of acting without party direction. All key government positions are filled by party members.

Society is ruled by the party's ubiquitous presence, which is manifested in a network of party cadres at almost every level of social activity. All citizens are expected to be members of one or another of the mass organizations led by party cadres, and all managers and military officials are ultimately answerable to party representatives.


Main article: Provinces of Vietnam

Vietnam is divided into fifty-nine provinces (tỉnh, singular and plural):

An Giang, Bac Giang, Bac Giang, Bac Lieu, Bac Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ben Tre, Binh Dinh, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Cao Bang, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Hai Duong, Ha Nam, Ha Tay, Ha Tinh, Hoa Binh, Hau Giang, 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.

There are also five municipalities (thủ đ, singular and plural) existing at provincial level:

Can Tho, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh.


Main article: Geography of Vietnam

The country is approximately 331,688 square kilometers. The topography consists of hills and densely forested mountains, with level land covering no more than 20 percent. Mountains account for 40 percent, hills 40 percent, and forests 75 percent. The northern part of the country consists of highlands and the Red River Delta; the south is divided into coastal lowlands, Giai Truong Son (central mountains) with high plateaus, and the Mekong River Delta.

The climate is tropical and monsoonal; humidity averages 84 percent throughout year. Annual rainfall ranges from 120 to 300 centimeters, and annual temperatures vary between 5C and 37C.


Main article: Economy of Vietnam

Vietnam is a poor, densely populated country that 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. Substantial progress was achieved from 1986 to 1996 in moving forward from an extremely low starting point - growth averaged around 9% per year from 1993 to 1997. The 1997 Asian financial crisis highlighted the problems existing in the Vietnamese economy but, rather than prompting reform, reaffirmed the government's belief that shifting to a market oriented economy leads to disaster. GDP growth of 8.5% in 1997 fell to 4% in 1998 and rose slightly to an estimated 4.8% in 1999. These numbers masked some major difficulties that are emerging in economic performance. Many domestic industries, including coal, cement, steel, and paper, have reported large stockpiles of inventory and tough competition from more efficient foreign producers. Foreign direct investment has fallen dramatically, from $8.3 billion in 1996 to about $1.6 billion in 1999. Meanwhile, Vietnamese authorities have slowed implementation of the structural reforms needed to revitalize the economy and produce more competitive, export-driven industries. Privatization of state enterprises remains bogged down in political controversy, while the country's dynamic private sector is denied both financing and access to markets. Reform of the banking sector - considered one of the riskiest in the world - is proceeding slowly, raising concerns that the country will be unable to tap sufficient domestic savings to finance growth. Administrative and legal barriers are also causing costly delays for foreign investors and are raising similar doubts about Vietnam's ability to attract additional foreign capital.


Main article: Demographics of Vietnam

Street scene in Haiphong

The ethnic Vietnamese are concentrated largely in the alluvial deltas and in the coastal plains, having little in common with the minority peoples of the highlands, whom they historically have regarded as hostile and barbaric. A homogenous social group, the Vietnamese exert influence on national life through their control of political and economic affairs and their role as purveyors of the dominant culture. By contrast, the ethnic minorities, except for the Hoa, are found mostly in the highlands that cover two-thirds of the national territory. The Hoa, the largest minority, are mainly lowlanders. Officially, the ethnic minorities are referred to as national minorities.

See also: List of ethnic groups in Vietnam


Main article: Culture of Vietnam

DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
January 1New Year'sTết Ty
Late January - Late FebruaryTt (Chinese New Year)Tết Nguyn ĐnLargest holiday of the year, first three days of lunar calendar
April 30Liberation DayNgy Giải PhngFall of Saigon in 1975
September 2Independence DayQuốc KhnhHo Chi Minh's speech in 1945

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Countries of the world  |  Asia