June 14, 2012, 9:43 pm
Source: CIA World Factbook
Content Cover Image

Terraced fields in northern Vietnam. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vietnam is a nation of ninety one million people in southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia.

Extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point.

Its major environmental issues include:

  • 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;  and,
  • growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam is susceptible to occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta.

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military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973.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


Location: 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

Area: 331,210 sq km    (land: 310,070 sq km; water: 21,140 sq km)

Land Boundaries: 4,639 km  (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: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Natural Hazards: occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta

Terrain:  low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest.  The highest point is Fan Si Pan (3,144 m).

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

Topography of Vietnam. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Satellite view of Vietnam. Source: NASA World Wind.

Ecology and Biodiversity

  1. South China-Vietnam subtropical evergreen forests
  2. Red River freshwater swamp forests
  3. Northern Indochina subtropical forests
  4. Northern Vietnam lowland rainforests
  5. Luang Prabang montane rain forests
  6. Northern Annamites rain forests
  7. Southern Annamites montane rain forests
  8. Southern Vietnam lowland dry forests
  9. Central Indochina dry forests
  10. Southeastern Indochina dry evergreen forests
  11. Tonle Sap-Mekong peat swamp forests
  12. Tonle Sap freshwater swamp forests
  13. Indochina mangroves

See also:

People and Society

Population: 91,519,289 (July 2011 est.)

Originating in what is now southern China and northern Vietnam, the Vietnamese people pushed southward over 2 millennia to occupy the entire eastern seacoast of the Indochinese Peninsula. Vietnam has 54 ethnic groups; ethnic Vietnamese or Kinh constitute approximately 85% of Vietnam's population. The next largest groups are ethnic Tay and Thai, which account for 1.89% and 1.8% of Vietnam's population and are concentrated in the country's northern highlands.

Ecoregions of Vietnam. Source: World Wildlife Fund

With a population of more than 900,000, Vietnam's Chinese community has historically played an important role in the Vietnamese economy. Restrictions on economic activity following reunification of the north and south in 1975 and a general deterioration in Vietnamese-Chinese relations caused increasing anxiety within the Chinese-Vietnamese community. As tensions between Vietnam and China reached their peak in 1978-79, culminating in a brief but bloody war in February-March 1979, some 450,000 ethnic Chinese left Vietnam by boat as refugees (many officially encouraged and assisted) or were expelled across the land border with China.

Other significant ethnic minority groups include central highland peoples (formerly collectively termed Montagnards) such as the Gia Rai, Bana, Ede, Xo Dang, Gie Trieng, and the Khmer Krom (Cambodians), who are concentrated near the Cambodian border and at the mouth of the Mekong River. Taken collectively, these groups made up a majority of the population in much of Vietnam's central highlands until the 1960s and 1970s. They now compose a significant minority of 25% to 35% of the provinces in that region.

Vietnamese is the official language of the country. It is a tonal language with influences from Thai, Khmer, and Chinese. Since the early 20th century, the Vietnamese have used a Romanized script introduced by the French. Previously, Chinese characters and an indigenous phonetic script were both used.

This low-oblique photograph shows the lower Mekong River and its vast delta. Rising on the Plateau of Tibet, the Mekong flows generally southeast for 4,160 km (2,600 mi) and empties into the South China Sea through the large delta. The vast, swampy delta, crisscrossed by many channels and canals, is one of the greatest rice-growing regions of Asia. Barely discernible northeast of the delta is Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. Point Cau Mau, the southern tip of Vietnam, is visible southeast of the delta. Image courtesy of NASA.
A few of the many limestone monolithic islands in Halong Bay.
Pu Mat National Park, and the Annamite mountain range in Vietnam. Source: Rolf Müller/Wikimedia Commons
Ho Chí Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam's largest City.Source: Ngô Trung/Wikimedia Commons

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% (2009 census)

Age Structure:

0-14 years: 25.2% (male 11,945,354/female 10,868,610)
15-64 years: 69.3% (male 31,301,879/female 31,419,306)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 1,921,652/female 3,092,589) (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate: 1.054% (2011 est.)

Birthrate: 16.83 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate: 5.95 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate: -0.34 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth: 72.41 years 

male: 69.95 years
female: 75.16 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate: 1.89 children born/woman (2011 est.)

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

Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write)94% (2009 census)

Urbanization: 30% of total population (2010) growing at an annual rate of change of 3% (2010-15 est.)


Vietnam's identity has been shaped by long-running conflicts, both internally and with foreign forces. In 111 BC, China's Han dynasty conquered northern Vietnam's Red River Delta and the ancestors of today's Vietnamese. Chinese dynasties ruled Vietnam for the next 1,000 years, inculcating it with Confucian ideas and political culture, but also leaving a tradition of resistance to foreign occupation. In 939 AD, Vietnam achieved independence under a native dynasty. After 1471, when Vietnam conquered the Champa Kingdom in what is now central Vietnam, the Vietnamese moved gradually southward, finally reaching the agriculturally rich Mekong Delta, where they encountered previously settled communities of Cham and Cambodians. As Vietnam's Le dynasty declined, powerful northern and southern families, the Trinh and Nguyen, fought civil wars in the 17th and 18th centuries. A peasant revolt originating in the Tay Son region of central Vietnam defeated both the Nguyen and the Trinh and unified the country at the end of the 18th century, but was itself defeated by a surviving member of the Nguyen family, who founded the Nguyen dynasty as Emperor Gia Long in 1802.

French Rule and the Anti-Colonial Struggle
In 1858, the French began their conquest of Vietnam starting in the south. They annexed all of Vietnam in 1885, governing the territories of Annan, Tonkin, and Cochin China, together with Cambodia and Laos, as French Indochina. The French ruled Cochin China directly as a French colony; Annan and Tonkin were established as French "protectorates." Vietnam's emperors remained in place in Hue, but their authority was strictly limited as French officials assumed nearly all government functions. In the early 20th century, Vietnamese intellectuals, many of them French educated, organized nationalist and communist-nationalist anti-colonial movements.

Japan's military occupation of Vietnam during World War II further stirred nationalist sentiment, as well as antipathy toward the French Vichy colonial regime, which took its direction from the Japanese until the Japanese took direct control in March 1945. Vietnamese communists under Ho Chi Minh organized a coalition of anti-colonial groups, the Viet Minh, though many anti-communists refused to join. The Viet Minh took advantage of political uncertainty in the weeks following Japan's surrender to take control of Hanoi and much of northern Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh announced the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945.

North and South Partition
France's determination to reassert colonial authority in Vietnam led to failed talks and, after armed hostilities broke out in Haiphong at the end of 1946, an 8-year guerrilla war between the communist-led Viet Minh on one side and the French and their anti-communist nationalist allies on the other. Following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954, France and other parties, including Britain, China, the Soviet Union, the United States, and representatives of the Viet Minh and Bao Dai governments convened in Geneva, Switzerland for peace talks. On July 29, 1954, an Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam was signed between France and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The United States observed, but did not sign, the agreement. French colonial rule in Vietnam ended.

The 1954 Geneva agreement provided for a cease-fire between communist and anti-communist nationalist forces, the temporary division of Vietnam at approximately the 17th parallel, provisional northern (communist) and southern (noncommunist) zone governments, and the evacuation of anti-communist Vietnamese from northern to southern Vietnam, as well as the movement of a smaller number of former communist-led Viet Minh anti-colonial fighters to the north. The agreement also called for an election to be held by July 1956 to bring the two provisional zones under a unified government, a provision that the South Vietnamese Government refused to accept, arguing that conditions for free elections throughout Vietnam were not present. On October 26, 1955, South Vietnam declared itself the Republic of Vietnam.

After 1954, North Vietnamese communist leaders consolidated their power and instituted a harsh agrarian reform and socialization program. During this period, some 450,000 Vietnamese, including a large number of Vietnamese Catholics, fled from the north to the south, while a much smaller number, mostly consisting of former Viet Minh fighters, relocated north. In the late 1950s, North Vietnamese leaders reactivated the network of communist guerrillas that had remained behind in the south. These forces--commonly known as the Viet Cong--aided covertly by the north, started an armed campaign against officials and villagers who refused to support the communist reunification cause.

American Assistance to the South
In December 1961, at the request of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, President Kennedy sent U.S. military advisers to South Vietnam to help the government there deal with the Viet Cong campaign. In the wake of escalating political turmoil in the south after a November 1963 generals' coup against President Diem, which resulted in his death, the United States increased its military support for South Vietnam. In March 1965, President Johnson sent the first U.S. combat forces to Vietnam. The American military role peaked in 1969 with an in-country force of 534,000. Although the Viet Cong's surprise Tet Offensive in January 1968 failed militarily, it damaged American and South Vietnamese morale and brought into question--domestically--U.S. reports of successes prior to the offensive. In January 1969, the United States, governments of South and North Vietnam, and the Viet Cong met for the first plenary session of peace talks in Paris, France. These talks, which began with much hope, moved slowly. They finally concluded with the signing of a peace agreement, the Paris Accords, on January 27, 1973. The Accords called for a ceasefire in place in which North Vietnamese forces were permitted to remain in areas they controlled. Following the Accords, the South Vietnamese Government and the political representatives of the communist forces in the South, the Provisional Revolutionary Government, vied for control over portions of South Vietnam. The United States withdrew its forces, although reduced levels of U.S. military assistance continued, administered by the Defense Attaché Office.

In early 1975, North Vietnamese regular military forces began a major offensive in the south, inflicting great damage to the south's forces. The communists took Saigon on April 30, 1975, and announced their intention to reunify the country. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (north) absorbed the former Republic of Vietnam (south) to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 2, 1976.

After reunification, the government confiscated privately owned land and forced citizens to adopt collectivized agricultural practices. Hundreds of thousands of former South Vietnamese government and military officials, as well as intellectuals previously opposed to the communist cause, were sent to study socialist doctrine in re-education camps, where they remained for periods ranging from months to over 10 years.

Expectations that reunification of the country and its socialist transformation would be condoned by the international community were quickly dashed as many countries expressed concern over Vietnam's internal practices and foreign policy. Vietnam's 1978 invasion of Cambodia in particular, together with its increasingly tight alliance with the Soviet Union, appeared to confirm suspicions that Vietnam wanted to establish a Soviet-backed hegemony in Indochina.

Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia also heightened tensions that had been building between Vietnam and China. Beijing, which backed the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, retaliated in early 1979 by initiating a brief, but bloody border war with Vietnam.

Vietnam's tensions with its neighbors, internal repression, and a stagnant economy contributed to a massive exodus from Vietnam. Fearing persecution, many ethnic Chinese in particular fled Vietnam by boat to nearby countries. Later, hundreds of thousands of other Vietnamese nationals fled as well, seeking temporary refuge in camps throughout Southeast Asia.

The continuing grave condition of the economy and the alienation from the international community became focal points of party debate. In 1986, at the Sixth Party Congress, there was an important easing of communist agrarian and commercial policies.


Government Type: Communist state

A new state constitution was approved in April 1992, reaffirming the central role of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) in politics and society, and outlining government reorganization and increased economic freedom. Though Vietnam remains a one-party state, adherence to ideological orthodoxy has become less important than economic development as a national priority.

The most important powers within the Vietnamese Government--in addition to the Communist Party--are the executive agencies created by the 1992 constitution: the offices of the president and the prime minister. The Vietnamese President functions as head of state but also serves as the nominal commander of the armed forces and chairman of the Council on National Defense and Security. The Prime Minister of Vietnam heads a cabinet composed of deputy prime ministers and the heads of ministries and agencies, all confirmed by the National Assembly.

Notwithstanding the 1992 constitution's reaffirmation of the central role of the Communist Party, the National Assembly, according to the constitution, is the highest representative body of the people and the only organization with legislative powers. It has a broad mandate to oversee all government functions. Once seen as little more than a rubber stamp, the National Assembly has become more vocal and assertive in exercising its authority over lawmaking, particularly in recent years. However, the National Assembly is still subject to Communist Party direction. More than 90% of the deputies in the National Assembly are Communist Party members. The National Assembly meets twice yearly for 7-10 weeks each time; elections for members are held every 5 years, although its Standing Committee meets monthly and there are now over 140 "full-time" deputies who function on various committees. In 2007, the National Assembly introduced parliamentary "question time," in which cabinet ministers must answer often-pointed questions from National Assembly members. There is a separate judicial branch, but it is still relatively weak. There are few lawyers and trial procedures are rudimentary.

The Politburo, selected during the Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam and headed by the Communist Party General Secretary, determines government policy; its Secretariat oversees day-to-day policy implementation. In addition, the Communist Party's Central Military Commission, which is composed of select Politburo members and additional military leaders, determines military policy.

A Party Congress meets every 5 years to set the direction of the party and the government. The most recent Party Congress, the Eleventh, met in January 2011. The Central Committee is elected by the Party Congress and usually meets at least twice a year.

Capital:  Hanoi - 2.668 million (2009)

Other Major Cities: Ho Chi Minh City 5.976 million;  Haiphong 1.941 million; Da Nang 807,000 (2009)

Administrative divisions: 58 provinces (tinh, singular and plural) and 5 municipalities (thanh pho, singular and plural)


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 Tinh,
Hai Duong,
Hau Giang,
Hoa Binh,
Hung Yen,
Khanh Hoa,
Kien Giang,
Kon Tum,



  1. Can Tho,
  2. Da Nang,
  3. Ha Noi,
  4. Hai Phong,
  5. Ho Chi Minh City

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,
uang 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

caption Source: Wikimedia Commons


Independence Date:  2 September 1945 (from France)

Legal System:  civil law system; note - the civil code of 2005 reflects a European style civil law. Vietnam  has not submitted an International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction declaration; and is a non-party state to the International criminal court (ICCt).

International Environmental Agreements

Vietnam is party to international agreements on: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, and Wetlands.


Total Renewable Water Resources: 891.2 cu km (1999)

Freshwater Withdrawal71.39 cu km/yr  (8% domestic, 24% industrial, 68% agricultural)

Per Capita Freshwater Withdrawal: 847 cu m/yr (2000)

Access to improved sources of drinking water: 94% of population

Access to improved sanitation facilities: 75% of population

See: Water profile of Vietnam


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

Irrigated Land: 46,000 sq km (2008)


Natural Resources: phosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower

Land Use:

arable land: 20.14%
permanent crops: 6.93%
other: 72.93% (2005)


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. While Vietnam's economy remains dominated by state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which still produce about 40% of GDP, 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.

Following economic stagnation after reunification from 1975 to 1985, the 1986 Sixth Party Congress approved broad economic reforms (known as "Doi Moi," or "renovation") that introduced market reforms, opened up the country for foreign investment, and dramatically improved Vietnam's business climate. Vietnam became one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, averaging around 8% annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth from 1990 to 1997 and 6.5% from 1998-2003. GDP grew more than 8% annually from 2004 to 2007, slowed to 5.3% growth in 2009, recovered to 6.8% in 2010, and reached 5.8% over the first 9 months of 2011. Viewed over time, foreign trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) have improved significantly, although new registered FDI has started to trend downward. The average annual foreign investment commitment rose sharply after foreign investment was authorized in 1988, although the global economic crisis affected FDI in 2009. In the first 9 months of 2011, disbursed FDI capital totaled $9.1 billion, up 1% compared to the same period in 2010. Registered FDI (including new and additional capital) was $8.88 billion in the first 9 months of 2011, a fall of about 30% compared to the same period of 2010. From 1990 to 2011, agricultural production nearly doubled, transforming Vietnam from a net food importer to the world's second-largest exporter of rice. In the first 9 months of 2011, Vietnam’s exports ($70 billion) were up by 23% compared to the same period in 2010. Vietnam’s imports ($76.87 billion) were up by 27% from the same period in 2010, and the country was still running a structural trade deficit, reaching $6.87 billion in the first 9 months of 2011.

The shift away from a centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented economic model has improved the quality of life for many Vietnamese. Per capita income rose from $220 in 1994 to $1,168 in 2010. Year-on-year inflation, however, increased to 18.2% in the first 9 months of 2011, up from 8.6% in the same period of 2010. The Vietnamese Government was unable to reach its 2011 Consumer Price Index (CPI) target of 7%. The Vietnamese savings rate is about 25% of GDP. Official unemployment remains low, but does not reflect employment trends in the unofficial economy, which comprises over 70% of the total workforce. Unemployment was 2.2% in the first 9 months of 2011--a slight decline from 2.8% in 2010--with urban unemployment being higher (3.5% in the first 9 months of 2011, 4.4% in 2010) than rural (1.2% the first 9 months of 2011, 2.3% in 2010).

The Vietnamese Government still holds a tight rein over major sectors of the economy through large state-owned economic groups and enterprises. The government has plans to reform key sectors and partially privatize state-owned enterprises, but implementation has been gradual and the state sector still accounts for approximately 40% of GDP. Greater emphasis on private sector development is critical for job creation. In 2011, the Vietnamese Government proposed a strategy for restructuring the economy by 2015. The three pillars of the proposed strategy are improving public investment; reforming state-owned enterprises; and restructuring finance markets, focusing on the banking system.

The 2001 entry-into-force of the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) between the U.S. and Vietnam was a significant milestone for Vietnam's economy and for normalization of U.S.-Vietnam relations. Bilateral trade between the United States and Vietnam has expanded dramatically, rising from $2.97 billion in 2002 to $18.6 billion in 2010. The U.S. is Vietnam's second-largest trade partner overall (after China).

Implementation of the BTA, which includes provisions on trade in goods and services, enforcement of intellectual property rights, protection for investments, and transparency, fundamentally changed Vietnam's trade regime and helped it accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007.

Vietnam was granted permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status by the United States in December 2006. To meet the obligations of WTO membership, Vietnam revised nearly all of its trade and investment laws and guiding regulations and opened up large sectors of its economy to foreign investors and exporters.

A U.S.-Vietnam Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), a bridge to future economic cooperation, was signed in 2007 during President Nguyen Minh Triet's visit to the United States. The first TIFA Council occurred in December 2007 in Washington, and there have been frequent TIFA meetings and dialogues since then. During Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's June 2008 visit, the United States and Vietnam committed to undertake Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations. Three rounds of talks were completed, but BIT talks have not resumed since Vietnam and the United States began negotiations on free trade in 2010.

Agriculture and Industry
As in the rest of Asia, farms in Vietnam tend to be very small, and are usually less than one hectare (2.5 acres) each. Rice and other farm outputs are quite profitable, on a per-kilogram basis, but the total income from these small operations is increasingly insufficient to cover daily household needs. Off-farm income is necessary, and growing in importance. Due to its high productivity, Vietnam is currently a net exporter of agricultural products. Besides rice, key exports are coffee (robusta), pepper (spice), cashews, tea, rubber, wood products, and fisheries products. In 2010, Vietnam was ranked 17 among all suppliers of food and agricultural products to the United States, a strong indicator of Vietnam’s growing importance as a global supplier of key agricultural commodities. Agriculture's share of economic output has declined, falling as a share of GDP from 42% in 1989 to 21% in 2010, as production in other sectors of the economy has risen.

Vietnam's industrial production has also grown. Industry and construction contributed 41% of GDP in 2010, up from 27.3% in 1985. Subsidies have been cut, though state enterprises still receive priority access to resources, including land and capital. The government is also continuing the slow process of "equitizing" a significant number of smaller state enterprises--transforming state enterprises into shareholding companies and distributing a portion of the shares to management, workers, and private foreign and domestic investors. However, to date the government continues to maintain control of the largest and most important companies.

Trade and Balance of Payments
To compensate for drastic cuts in Soviet-bloc support after 1989, Vietnam liberalized trade, devalued its currency to increase exports, and embarked on a policy of regional and international economic re-integration. Vietnam has demonstrated its commitment to trade liberalization in recent years, and integration with the world economy has become one of the cornerstones of its reform program. Vietnam has locked in its intention to create a more competitive and open economy by committing to several comprehensive international trade agreements, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA). Vietnam's accession to the World Trade Organization further integrated Vietnam into the global economy. In November 2010, Vietnam officially joined negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

As a result of these reforms, exports expanded significantly, growing by as much as 20%-30% in some years. Exports accounted for about 70% of GDP in 2010. Imports have also grown rapidly, and Vietnam has maintained a structural trade deficit, reaching $12.4 billion in 2010. Vietnam's total external debt, amounting to 42.2% of GDP in 2010, was estimated at around $32.5 billion.

GDP: (Purchasing Power Parity): $299.2 billion (2011 est.)

GDP: (Official Exchange Rate): $123.6 billion (2011 est.)

GDP- per capita (PPP): $3,300 (2011 est.)

GDP- composition by sector:

agriculture: 22%
industry: 40.3%
services: 37.7% (2011 est.)

Industries: food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, paper

Currency: Dong (VND)

See: Energy profile of Vietnam

International Disputes:

  • 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;
  • Cambodia accuses Vietnam of a wide variety of illicit cross-border activities;
  • Progress on a joint development area with Cambodia is hampered by an unresolved dispute over sovereignty of offshore islands;
  • an estimated 300,000 Vietnamese refugees reside in China;
  • establishment of a maritime boundary with Cambodia is hampered by unresolved dispute over the sovereignty of offshore islands;
  • the decade-long demarcation of the China-Vietnam land boundary was completed in 2009;
  • China occupies the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan;
  • Brunei claims a maritime boundary extending beyond as far as a median with Vietnam, thus asserting an implicit claim to Lousia Reef;
  • 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; See:  Energy profile of South China Sea
  • EEZ negotiations with Indonesia are ongoing, and the two countries in Fall 2011 agreed to work together to reduce illegal fishing along their maritime boundary




Agency, C., Fund, W., & Department, U. (2012). Vietnam. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/51cbf2a77896bb431f6aa38a


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