Vietnam Overview

Vietnam is a development success story. Political and economic reforms launched in 1986 have transformed Vietnam from one of the poorest countries in the world, with per capita income below $100, to a lower middle income country within a quarter of a century with per capita income of $1,960 by the end of 2013. Vietnam has already attained four of its ten original Millennium Development Goal targets and is likely to attain three more by 2015.

Country: Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
National flag
Cities: Hanoi is the Capital. Ho Chi Minh City (normally called Saigon) is the largest city and more exciting industrial centre. Hue, the Capital of the last Kingdom up to 1945 is still maintaining traces of the old reigns. Danang, the most important city in Centre of Vietnam, with close Hoian ancient town and My Son Sanctuary. Halong Bay is recognized by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage Site.

Located in the centre of Southest Asia. Vietnam borders China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, and the East Sea and the Gulf of Thailand to the east and the south. The main land of Vietnam covers over 331,211 square kilometers with a total length of 1,650km. The territory also includes thousands of islands and islets scattered along the coast. Among these are Truong Sa (Spratley Islands) and Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) Vietnam’s coastline measures more than 3,260km in length and its inland border is 4,510 km long.

Vietnam lies in the tropical and temperate zones, so its climate is influenced by two monsoons. In the North, these are four seasons, with average temperatures of around 17°C in winter and 34°C in summer. In the South, the climate undergoes less variation with an annual average temperature of around 27°C in Ho Chi Minh City.

Around three-quarters of Vietnam’s territory consists of mountains and hills. Vietnam has two major deltas, the Red River Delta and the Mekong Delta, as well as four mountainous zones. They are the North-East, the North West, the Truong Son Mountain Range, and the Central Highlands. Each of them possesses its own unique feature.

The Vietnamese population exceeded 85 million in 2012 and consists of 54 ethnic group. The largest ethic group is the Viet (Kinh), concentrated mainly in the delta regions. Most of minority groups live in the highlands and mountainous areas.

Vietnam is a nation with thousand years of history. Archaeological artifacts of the Phung Nguyen, Dong Dau, Go Mun and Dong Son cultures, especially discoveries of bronze drums of Ngoc Lu have proved that Vietnam was a cradle of the developed civilizations before Christ. Vestiges of the historic period of the Hung Kings have revealed that Vietnam is one of the oldest countries in Southest Asia.

Vietnamese. Don't ask the local people do they understand Chinese naturally. Vietnamese is a tonal language using Roman letters together with tone markers - main problems of foreign students. English is the most popular foreign language and French, Chinese, Japanese are expected to speak at service points. Literacy rate is 88%.

Figures are different. Estimated 60% ? 70% of population believe in Buddhist tenets with strong Confucian and Taoist influences. Catholic account for perhaps 8% ? 10% of the population. Cao Dai and Hoa Hao, local sects of Buddhism, are strong in the Mekong Delta. Small group ( of about 50,000 people ) are Islamic followers living in the central part of the central coast of Vietnam.

Sole-party Socialist Republic under the leadership of the Communist Party. Important persons to name are the Party's General Secretary (Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong), the country's president (Mr. Truong Tan Sang), the Prime Minister (Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung). The leading offices are Politburo and National Assembly.

Market-based economy. Second world leading rice exporter and coffee exporter. Other exported goods are rubber, timber, garment, shoes, seafoods, tea, crude oil, coal, and electricity.

New moon and full moon days are main anniversaries at temples. Main Festival of the year is the Lunar Calendar New Year ("Tet") which often falls in mid-Feb. For 5 days to a week most of businesses closed except tourist points. Flower markets every where before the Eve. Temples and shrines are exciting with traditional anniversaries and pilgrims before and after Tet.