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Dr. Weils Daily Blog
By Entry Pages > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Vietnam
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Map of Vietnam
IntroductionTop
Background:The conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Independence was declared after World War II, but the French continued to rule until 1954 when they were defeated by Communist forces under Ho Chi MINH, who took control of the North. 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military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973.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. Despite the return of peace, for over two decades the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies. Since 2001, Vietnamese authorities have committed to economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The country continues to experience protests from the Montagnard ethnic minority population of the Central Highlands over loss of land to Vietnamese settlers and religious persecution.
GeographyTop
Location:Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia
Geographic coordinates:16 00 N, 106 00 E
Map references:Southeast Asia
Area:total: 329,560 sq km
land: 325,360 sq km
water: 4,200 sq km

Area - comparative:slightly larger than New Mexico
Land boundaries:total: 4,639 km
border countries: Cambodia 1,228 km, China 1,281 km, Laos 2,130 km

Coastline:3,444 km (excludes islands)
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate:tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (mid-May to mid-September) and warm, dry season (mid-October to mid-March)
Terrain:low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest
Elevation extremes:lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m

Natural resources:phosphates, coal, manganese, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, forests, hydropower
Land use:arable land: 19.97%
permanent crops: 5.95%
other: 74.08% (2001)

Irrigated land:30,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta
Environment - current 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
Environment - international agreements:party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point
PeopleTop
Population:83,535,576 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 27.9% (male 12,065,777/female 11,212,299)
15-64 years: 66.4% (male 27,406,456/female 28,024,250)
65 years and over: 5.8% (male 1,889,585/female 2,937,209) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 25.51 years
male: 24.47 years
female: 26.68 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:1.04% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:17.07 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:6.2 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:-0.43 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 25.95 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 25.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 70.61 years
male: 67.82 years
female: 73.6 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:1.94 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:220,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:9,000 (2003 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)
Religions: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)
Languages:Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.3%
male: 93.9%
female: 86.9% (2002)

GovernmentTop
Country name: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

Government type:Communist state
Capital:Hanoi
Administrative divisions:59 provinces (tinh, singular and plural) and 5 municipalities (thu do, 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, Hai Duong, Ha Nam, Ha Tay, Ha Tinh, 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, Hai Phong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh

Independence:2 September 1945 (from France)
National holiday:Independence Day, 2 September (1945)
Constitution:15 April 1992
Legal system:based on communist legal theory and French civil law system
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Tran Duc LUONG (since 24 September 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Phan Van KHAI (since 25 September 1997); First Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan DUNG (since 29 September 1997); Deputy Prime Ministers Vu KHOAN (8 August 2002) and Pham Gia KHIEM (since 29 September 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president based on proposal of prime minister and ratification of National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly from among its members for a five-year term; election last held 25 July 2002 (next to be held when National Assembly meets following legislative elections in 2007); prime minister appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by the prime minister
election results: Tran Duc LUONG elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA%

Legislative branch:unicameral National Assembly or Quoc-Hoi (498 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 19 May 2002 (next to be held 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - CPV 90%, other 10% (the 10% are not CPV members but are approved by the CPV to stand for election); seats by party - CPV 447, CPV-approved 51

Judicial branch:Supreme People's Court (chief justice is elected for a five-year term by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the president)
Political parties and leaders:only party - Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV [Nong Duc MANH, general secretary]
Political pressure groups and leaders:none
International organization participation:ACCT (observer), APEC, APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, CP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO (observer)
Flag description:red with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center
EconomyTop
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. Substantial progress was achieved from 1986 to 1997 in moving forward from an extremely low level of development and significantly reducing poverty. Growth averaged around 9% per year from 1993 to 1997. The 1997 Asian financial crisis highlighted the problems in the Vietnamese economy and temporarily allowed opponents of reform to slow progress towards a market oriented economy. GDP growth of 8.5% in 1997 fell to 6% in 1998 and 5% in 1999. Growth then rose to 7% in 2000-04 even against the background of global recession. Since 2001, however, 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. However, equitization of state-owned enterprises and reduction in the proportion of non-performing loans has fallen behind schedule. Vietnam's membership in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and entry into force of the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade in December 2001 have led to even more rapid changes in Vietnam's trade and economic regime. Vietnam's exports to the US doubled in 2002 and again in 2003. Vietnam is working toward accession to the WTO in 2005. Among other benefits, accession will allow Vietnam to take advantage of the phase out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which eliminated quotas on textiles and clothing for WTO partners on 1 January 2005. Vietnam is working to promote job creation to keep up with the country's high population growth rate. However, in 2004, high levels of inflation prompted Vietnamese authorities to tighten monetary and fiscal policies.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $227.2 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:7.7% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $2,700 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 21.8%
industry: 40.1%
services: 38.1% (2004 est.)

Labor force:42.98 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture 63%, industry and services 37% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:1.9% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:28.9% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 3.6%
highest 10%: 29.9% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:36.1 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):9.5% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):36.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $10.66 billion
expenditures: $13.09 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.8 billion (2004 est.)

Public debt:65.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:paddy rice, coffee, fish and seafood, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas, poultry
Industries:food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building, mining, cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, coal, steel, paper
Industrial production growth rate:16% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:34.48 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 43.7%
hydro: 56.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:32.06 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:359,400 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:185,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:NA
Oil - imports:NA
Oil - proved reserves:650 million bbl (2004 est.)
Natural gas - production:1.3 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:1.3 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:192.6 billion cu m (2004)
Current account balance:$-2.061 billion (2004 est.)
Exports:$23.72 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes
Exports - partners:US 19.8%, Japan 13.7%, China 8.4%, Australia 7%, Germany 5.7%, Singapore 4.8%, UK 4.6% (2004)
Imports:$26.31 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products, raw cotton, grain, cement, motorcycles
Imports - partners:China 13.6%, Japan 11.5%, Singapore 11.5%, Taiwan 10.2%, South Korea 9.8%, Thailand 6.7%, Hong Kong 4.4%, US 4.1%, Malaysia 4.1% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$6.51 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:$16.55 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code):dong (VND)
Currency code:VND
Exchange rates:dong per US dollar - 15,746 (2004), 15,510 (2003), 15,280 (2002), 14,725 (2001), 14,168 (2000)
Fiscal year:calendar year
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:4.402 million (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:2.742 million (2003)
Telephone system:general assessment: Vietnam is putting considerable effort into modernization and expansion of its telecommunication system, but its performance continues to lag behind that of its more modern neighbors
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 substantially increased, and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly
international: country code - 84; satellite earth stations - 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations:AM 65, FM 7, shortwave 29 (1999)
Radios:8.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:at least 7 (plus 13 repeaters) (1998)
Televisions:3.57 million (1997)
Internet country code:.vn
Internet hosts:340 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):5 (2000)
Internet users:3.5 million (2003)
TransportationTop
Railways:total: 2,600 km
standard gauge: 178 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 2,169 km 1.000-m gauge
dual gauge: 253 km three-rail track combining 1.435-m and 1.000-m gauges (2004)

Highways:total: 93,300 km
paved: 23,418 km
unpaved: 69,882 km (1999 est.)

Waterways:17,702 km (5,000 km navigable by vessels up to 1.8 m draft) (2004)
Pipelines:condensate/gas 432 km; gas 210 km; oil 3 km; refined products 206 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:Cam Ranh, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Vinh, Vung Tau
Merchant marine:total: 194 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 1,170,621 GRT/1,798,376 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 18, cargo 142, chemical tanker 3, container 2, liquefied gas 4, petroleum tanker 22, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 1
registered in other countries: 11 (2005)

Airports:24 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 21
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2004 est.)

MilitaryTop
Military branches:People's Army of Vietnam: Ground Forces, People's Navy Command (includes Naval Infantry), Air and Air Defense Force, Coast Guard
Military manpower - military age and obligation:18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years (2004)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 21,341,813 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: 16,032,358 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males: 915,572 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:$650 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:2.5% (FY98)
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international:southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; Cambodia and Laos protest Vietnamese squatters and armed encroachments along border; in 2004 Laotian-Vietnamese boundary commission agrees to erect missing markers in two adjoining provinces; demarcation of the China-Vietnam boundary proceeds slowly and although the maritime boundary delimitation and fisheries agreements were ratified in June 2004, implementation has been delayed; China occupies Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct" desired by several of the disputants; Vietnam continues to expand construction of facilities in the Spratly Islands; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands
Illicit drugs:minor producer of opium poppy; probable minor transit point for Southeast Asian heroin; domestic opium/heroin/methamphetamine addiction problems



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