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 Transnational Issues

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

Map of Vietnam

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Vietnam Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
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military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973.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. 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 country continues to experience protests from various groups - such as the Protestant Montagnard ethnic minority population of the Central Highlands and the Hoa Hao Buddhists in southern Vietnam over religious persecution. Montagnard grievances also include the loss of land to Vietnamese settlers.
   Geography    Vietnam Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
16 00 N, 106 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Southeast Asia
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 329,560 sq km
land: 325,360 sq km
water: 4,200 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than New Mexico
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 4,639 km
border countries: Cambodia 1,228 km, China 1,281 km, Laos 2,130 km
Definition Field Listing
3,444 km (excludes islands)
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)
Definition Field Listing
low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
phosphates, coal, manganese, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, forests, hydropower
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 20.14%
permanent crops: 6.93%
other: 72.93% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
30,000 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point
   People    Vietnam Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
84,402,966 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 27% (male 11,826,457/female 10,983,069)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 28,055,941/female 28,614,553)
65 years and over: 5.8% (male 1,924,562/female 2,998,384) (2006 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 25.9 years
male: 24.8 years
female: 27.1 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.02% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
16.86 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.22 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-0.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.07 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 (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 25.14 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.54 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 24.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 70.85 years
male: 68.05 years
female: 73.85 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.91 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
220,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
Definition Field Listing
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and plague are high risks in some locations
animal contact disease: rabies
water contact disease: leptospirosis
note: at present, H5N1 avian influenza poses a minimal risk; during outbreaks among birds, rare cases could occur among US personnel who have close contact with infected birds or poultry (2005)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
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)
Definition Field Listing
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)
Definition Field Listing
Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.3%
male: 93.9%
female: 86.9% (2002)
   Government    Vietnam Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Communist state
Definition Field Listing
name: Hanoi
geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
59 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, Dac Lak, Dac Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Ha Nam, Ha Tay, 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, Hai Phong, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh
Definition Field Listing
2 September 1945 (from France)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 2 September (1945)
Definition Field Listing
15 April 1992
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on communist legal theory and French civil law system
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Nguyen Minh TRIET (since 27 June 2006); Vice President Truong My HOA (since 25 July 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan DUNG (since 27 June 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh HUNG (since 28 June 2006), Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia KHIEM (since 28 June 2006), and Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh TRONG (since 28 June 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president based on proposal of prime minister and confirmed by National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly from among its members for five-year term; election last held 27 June 2006; 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: Nguyen Minh TRIET elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 94%; Nguyen Tan DUNG elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - 92%
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV [Nong Duc MANH]; other parties proscribed
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
8406 Bloc [Do Nam HAI and Father Nguyen Van LY]; Democratic Party of Vietnam or DPV [Hoang Minh CHINH]; People's Democratic Party Vietnam or PDP-VN [Nguyen Hoang LONG]; Alliance for Democracy [Nguyen Ngoc HUY] (2006)
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Nguyen Tam CHIEN
chancery: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 861-0737
FAX: [1] (202) 861-0917
consulate(s) general: San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael W. MARINE
embassy: 7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
mailing address: PSC 461, Box 400, FPO AP 96521-0002
telephone: [84] (4) 772-1500
FAX: [84] (4) 772-1510
consulate(s) general: Ho Chi Minh City
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
red with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center
   Economy    Vietnam Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
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 toward a market-oriented economy. GDP growth averaged 6.8% per year from 1997 to 2004 even against the background of the Asian financial crisis and a global recession, and growth hit 8% in 2005 and 7.8% in 2006. 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. Vietnam's membership in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and entry into force of the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement 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 joined the World Trade Organization in January 2007. This should provide an important boost to the economy and should help to ensure the continuation of liberalizing reforms. 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. Agriculture's share of economic output has continued to shrink, from about 25% in 2000 to 20% in 2006. Deep poverty, defined as a percent of the population living under $1 per day, has declined significantly and is now smaller than that of China, India, and the Philippines. Vietnam is working to promote job creation to keep up with the country's high population growth rate. However, high levels of inflation have prompted Vietnamese authorities to tighten monetary and fiscal policies. Hanoi is targeting an economic growth rate between 7.5 and 8% over the next five years.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$258.6 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$48.26 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.8% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$3,100 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 20.1%
industry: 41.8%
services: 38.1% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
44.58 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 56.8%
industry: 37%
services: 6.2% (July 2005)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
19.5% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 3.6%
highest 10%: 29.9% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
36.1 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.5% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
32.6% of GDP (2006 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $15.42 billion
expenditures: $16.63 billion; including capital expenditures of $1.8 billion (2006 est.)
Public debt:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
47.5% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
paddy rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; poultry; fish, seafood
Definition Field Listing
food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, paper
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
11.3% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
40.11 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
37.3 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
400,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
230,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.5 billion bbl (2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.342 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.342 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
192.6 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$1.029 billion (2006 est.)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$39.92 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 18.3%, Japan 13.6%, China 9%, Australia 7.9%, Singapore 5.6% (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$39.16 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products, raw cotton, grain, cement, motorcycles
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
China 15.6%, Singapore 12.4%, Taiwan 11.7%, Japan 11.1%, South Korea 9.7%, Thailand 6.5% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$11.92 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$21.86 billion (2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$2.8 billion in credits and grants pledged by international donors for 2000 (2004)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
dong (VND)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
dong per US dollar - 16,037 (2006), 15,746 (2005), (2004), 15,510 (2003), 15,280 (2002)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Vietnam Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
15.845 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.593 million (2005)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
AM 65, FM 7, shortwave 29 (1999)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
6 (plus 61 provincial TV stations) (2006)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12,114 (2006)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
13.1 million (2006)
   Transportation    Vietnam Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
32 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 26
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
Definition Field Listing
condensate/gas 432 km; gas 163 km; oil 50 km; refined products 206 km (2006)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
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 (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 222,179 km
paved: 42,167 km
unpaved: 180,012 km (2004)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17,702 km (5,000 km navigable by vessels up to 1.8 m draft) (2005)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 267 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,423,936 GRT/2,191,858 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 23, cargo 202, chemical tanker 4, container 5, liquefied gas 5, petroleum tanker 24, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 1, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 1 (Denmark 1)
registered in other countries: 17 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Honduras 1, Mongolia 8, Panama 4, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, unknown 2) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City
   Military    Vietnam Top of Page
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
People's Armed Forces: People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) (includes People's Navy Command (with naval infantry, coast guard), Air and Air Defense Force (Kon Quan Nhan Dan), Border Defense Command), People's Public Security Forces, Militia Force, Self-Defense Forces (2005)
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (male) for compulsory military service; females may volunteer for active duty military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years (3-4 years in the navy); 18-45 years of age (male) or 18-40 years of age (female) for Militia Force or Self Defense Forces (2006)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 21,341,813
females age 18-49: 21,430,808 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 16,032,358
females age 18-49: 17,921,241 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 915,572
females age 18-49: 864,161 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.5% (FY98)
   Transnational Issues    Vietnam Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
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; after years of Cambodia claiming Vietnam had moved or destroyed boundary markers, in 2005, after much domestic debate, Cambodia ratified an agreement with Vietnam that settled all but a small portion of the land boundary; establishment of a maritime boundary with Cambodia is hampered by unresolved dispute over offshore islands; 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:
Definition Field Listing
minor producer of opium poppy; probable minor transit point for Southeast Asian heroin; government continues to face domestic opium/heroin/methamphetamine addiction problems despite longstanding crackdowns

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

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