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Vietnam
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Vietnam

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
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 65th
329,560 km²
1.3%
Population
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 14th
81,624,716
264/km²
GDP
 - Total (2001)
 - GDP/head

$168.1 billion
$2,072.79
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
From French rule
September 2, 1945
1954
Currency Dong
Time zone UTC +7
National anthem Tien Quan Ca (The Troops are Advancing)
Internet TLD.vn
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

History

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 Vietnamese Alliance Parties (Vịt Nam Đ̀ng Minh Ḥi), 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. On July 20, 1954, the Geneva Treaty was signed by French and Vietnamese representatives. Vietnam was partitioned, ostensibly temporarily, into Northern and Southern zones, with a general election to be held in June 1956 (Article 3), and a prohibition against introducing foreign troops (Article 4). The partition forced about two million North Vietnamese to migrate to the South, as the communist north began to impose severe rules to implement radical land reforms and applied socialist communism.

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. According to the Pentagon Papers, this was because Ho Chi Minh would have significant support in the north, having tried to implement a massive agrarian reform that resulted in over one million people leaving North Vietnam to re-settle in the South to avoid persecution and bloodshed. The Communist Party encouraged poor peasants to gain ownership of the land by subjecting all the landlords to public trials and executions. The South refused to abide by the Geneva Conference that declared a Republic because, according to them, under Ho Chi Minh and his government, North Vietnamese people were not free to choose or to vote. This was hypocritical since South Vietnam was a right-wing dictatorship that strictly forbade opposition. This move was followed by the declaration of North Vietnam as a country by Ho Chi Minh, backed by the USSR and China.

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 ceasefire agreement which was signed in Paris in January 1973 (see Vietnam War). Two years later, ignoring the Paris ceasefire agreement, the North Vietnamese army invaded and took control of South Vietnam by force. The war ended after a total loss of about 3.8 million lives, and more than two million people fled Vietnam to seek political asylum in many countries.

Economic reconstruction of the reunited country has proven very difficult under the new Communist socialist government of Vietnam.

Politics

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) that was formerly known as Vietnamese Labor Party. 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 only and under strict control of the Central Political Committee.

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.

Vietnam is a member of the United Nations, La Francophonie, ASEAN, and APEC.

Provinces

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.

Geography

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.

Economy

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.

Demographics

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.

More than 87% of the population speaks the Vietnamese language, the nation's official language. Various other languages are spoken by the several minority groups in Vietnam. The most common of these are Chinese and Khmer. French is spoken by some, mostly older Vietnamese, as a second-language. In recent decades, English has become a more popular language to learn and is increasingly used in business, among other things.

See also: List of ethnic groups in Vietnam

Culture

Main article: Culture of Vietnam

Miscellaneous topics

External links


[ Edit {}] Countries in Southeast Asia
Brunei | Cambodia | East Timor | Indonesia | Laos | Malaysia | Myanmar | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | Vietnam