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military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973.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.

Vietnamese Flag

Vietnamese Flag


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

Geographic coordinates:
16 10 N, 107 50 E

Map references:
Southeast Asia

total: 331,210 sq km
country comparison to the world: 66
land: 310,070 sq km
water: 21,140 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

3,444 km (excludes islands)

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

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

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, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 19.64%
permanent crops: 11.18%
other: 69.18% (2011)

Irrigated land:
45,850 sq km (2005)

Total renewable water resources:
884.1 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 82.03 cu km/yr (1%/4%/95%)
per capita: 965 cu m/yr (2005)

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

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People & Society

noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese

Ethnic groups:
Kinh (Viet) 85.7%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.8%, Muong 1.5%, Khmer 1.5%, Mong 1.2%, Nung 1.1%, others 5.3% (1999 census)

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

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)

93,421,835 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.3% (male 11,946,656/female 10,800,602)
15-24 years: 17.8% (male 8,598,360/female 8,023,377)
25-54 years: 44.8% (male 20,983,638/female 20,861,243)
55-64 years: 5.7% (male 3,149,494/female 3,763,309)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 2,034,721/female 3,260,435) (2014 est.)
population pyramid:

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 41.3 %
youth dependency ratio: 31.9 %
elderly dependency ratio: 9.4 %
potential support ratio: 10.6 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 29.2 years
male: 28.1 years
female: 30.2 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
1% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119

Birth rate:
16.26 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

Death rate:
5.93 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170

Net migration rate:
-0.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129

urban population: 31% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 3.03% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
Ho Chi Minh City 6.405 million; HANOI (capital) 2.955 million; Haiphong 925,000; Da Nang 834,000 (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2002 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
59 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 101

Infant mortality rate:
total: 18.99 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 95
male: 19.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.91 years
country comparison to the world: 129
male: 70.44 years
female: 75.65 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.85 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
77.8% (2010/11)

Health expenditures:
6.8% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 86

Physicians density:
1.22 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density:
2.2 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source:
urban: 99.5% of population
rural: 93.8% of population
total: 95.6% of population
urban: 0.5% of population
rural: 6.2% of population
total: 4.4% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 92.7% of population
rural: 66.7% of population
total: 74.8% of population
urban: 7.3% of population
rural: 33.3% of population
total: 25.2% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.4% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
259,200 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
11,700 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2013)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
1.7% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 186

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
12% (2011)
country comparison to the world: 60

Education expenditures:
6.3% of GDP (2010)
country comparison to the world: 33

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.4%
male: 95.4%
female: 91.4% (2011 est.)

Child labor – children ages 5-14:
total number: 2,545,616
percentage: 16 % (2006 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 5.5%
country comparison to the world: 135
male: 4.6%
female: 6.5% (2012)

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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

name: Hanoi (Ha Noi)
geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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, Dak Lak, Dak 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 (Saigon)

2 September 1945 (from France)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 2 September (1945)

several previous; latest adopted 15 April 1992, effective 1 January 1995; amended 2001; note – in early 2013, the Vietnamese Government asked for public comment on its constitution (2013)

Legal system:
civil law system; note – the civil code of 2005 reflects a European-style civil law

International law organization participation:
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Truong Tan SANG (since 25 July 2011); Vice President Nguyen Thi DOAN (since 25 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan DUNG (since 27 June 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc DAM (since 13 November 2013), Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung HAI (since 2 August 2007), Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh MINH (since 13 November 2013), Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van NINH (since 3 August 2011), and Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan PHUC (since 3 August 2011)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president based on proposal of prime minister and confirmed by National Assembly
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by the National Assembly from among its members for five-year term; last election held 25 July 2011 (next to be held in July 2016); prime minister appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by the prime minister; appointment of prime minister and deputy prime ministers confirmed by National Assembly
election results: Truong Tan SANG elected president, percent of National Assembly vote – 97%; Nguyen Tan DUNG elected prime minister, percent of National Assembly vote – 94%

Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Quoc Hoi (500 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 22 May 2011 (next to be held in May 2016)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – CPV 458, non-party CPV-approved 38, self-nominated 4; note – 500 candidates were elected; the 496 CPV and non-party CPV-approved delegates were members of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front and were vetted prior to the election

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme People’s Court (consists of the chief justice and 13 judges)
judge selection and term of office: chief justice elected by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the president for a 5-year, renewable term; other judges appointed by the president for 5-year terms
subordinate courts: Court of Appeals; administrative, civil, criminal, economic, and labor courts; Central Military Court; People’s Special Courts; note – the National Assembly can establish special tribunals

Political parties and leaders:
Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV [Nguyen Phu TRONG]
note: other parties proscribed

Political pressure groups and leaders:
8406 Bloc
Democratic Party of Vietnam or DPV
People’s Democratic Party Vietnam or PDP-VN
Alliance for Democracy
note: these groups advocate democracy but are not recognized by the government

International organization participation:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Nguyen Quoc CUONG (since 2 May 2011)
chancery: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 861-0737
FAX: [1] (202) 861-0917
consulate(s) general: Houston, New York, San Francisco
consulate: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador David B. SHEAR (since 4 August 2011)
embassy: Rose Garden Building, 170 Ngoc Khanh St., Hanoi
mailing address: 7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; 4550 Hanoi Place, Washington, DC 20521-4550
telephone: [84] (4) 3850-5000
FAX: [84] (4) 3850-5010
consulate(s) general: Ho Chi Minh City

Flag description:
red field with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center; red symbolizes revolution and blood, the five-pointed star represents the five elements of the populace – peasants, workers, intellectuals, traders, and soldiers – that unite to build socialism

National symbol(s):
yellow, five-pointed star on red field; lotus blossom

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


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Economy – overview:
Vietnam is a densely-populated developing country that has been transitioning from the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy since 1986. Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic modernization in recent years. Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization in January 2007, which has promoted more competitive, export-driven industries. Vietnam became an official negotiating partner in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement in 2010. Agriculture’s share of economic output has continued to shrink from about 25% in 2000 to less than 20% in 2013, while industry’s share increased from 36% to more than 42% in the same period. State-owned enterprises account for about 40% of GDP. 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 hurt Vietnam’s export-oriented economy, with GDP in 2013 growing at 5%, the slowest rate of growth since 1999. In 2013, however, exports increased by more than 12%, year-on-year; several administrative actions brought the trade deficit back into balance. Between 2008 and 2011, Vietnam’s managed currency, the dong, was devalued in excess of 20%, but its value remained relatively stable in 2013. Hanoi has oscillated between promoting growth and emphasizing macroeconomic stability in recent years. In February 2011, the government shifted from policies aimed at achieving a high rate of economic growth, which had stoked inflation, to those aimed at stabilizing the economy, through tighter monetary and fiscal control. Although Vietnam unveiled a broad, “three pillar” economic reform program in early 2012, proposing the restructuring of public investment, state-owned enterprises, and the banking sector, little perceptible progress has been made. Vietnam’s economy continues to face challenges from an undercapitalized banking sector. Non-performing loans weigh heavily on banks and businesses.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$358.9 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
$340.8 billion (2012 est.)
$323.8 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$170 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
5.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
5.2% (2012 est.)
6.2% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$4,000 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
$3,800 (2012 est.)
$3,700 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
38.4% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
39% of GDP (2012 est.)
32.8% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 68.9%
government consumption: 6.8%
investment in fixed capital: 30.4%
investment in inventories: 3.1%
exports of goods and services: 84.7%
imports of goods and services: -93.9%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 19.3%
industry: 38.5%
services: 42.2% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
paddy rice, coffee, rubber, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; poultry; fish, seafood

food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, mobile phones

Industrial production growth rate:
5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56

Labor force:
52.93 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 48%
industry: 21%
services: 31% (2012)

Unemployment rate:
1.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
3.2% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
11.3% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 30.2% (2008)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
37.6 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 78
36.1 (1998)

revenues: $42.82 billion
expenditures: $50 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
25.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-4.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153

Public debt:
48.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
48.1% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: official data; data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.8% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
9.1% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
9% (31 December 2012)
country comparison to the world: 11
15% (31 December 2011)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
10.5% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
13.47% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$43.99 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
$40.34 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$184.9 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
$165.9 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$173.8 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
$163.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$38.2 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
$26 billion (31 December 2011)
$37 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:
$8.162 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
$9.062 billion (2012 est.)

$128.9 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
$114.6 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
clothes, shoes, electronics, seafood, crude oil, rice, coffee, wooden products, machinery

Exports – partners:
US 17.8%, Japan 11.8%, China 11.2%, South Korea 5%, Malaysia 4.1% (2012)

$121.4 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
$104.7 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
machinery and equipment, petroleum products, steel products, raw materials for the clothing and shoe industries, electronics, plastics, automobiles

Imports – partners:
China 25.8%, South Korea 13.9%, Japan 10.4%, Singapore 6%, Thailand 5.2%, US 4.3% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$32.49 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
$26.11 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$68.38 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
$63.95 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$84.61 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
$73.71 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$NA (31 December 2009 est.)
$5.3 billion (31 December 2008)

Exchange rates:
dong (VND) per US dollar –
21,118 (2013 est.)
20,859 (2012 est.)
18,612.92 (2010 est.)
17,799.6 (2009)
16,548.3 (2008)

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