All About Vietnam

Vietnam – officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochinese peninsula, in Southeast Asia .

It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, and Cambodia to the southwest. Its extensive coastline touches the waters of the South China Sea in most parts and the Gulf of Siam in the south.

flag of vietnam
flag of vietnam
Form of government:socialist
Capital :
 • Population:
Official language:Vietnamese
Prime Minister:
Nguyen Phu Trong [1]
Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
General characteristics
Surface :331,690 km²
 • Density
95,540,395 inhabitants
288 inhabitants / km²
Currency :Đồng (VND).
Name :Vietnamese
Hours :UTC + 7


According to Vietnamese legends, the history of Vietnam began around 1000 BC. n. and. According to these legends, people from various tribes were born from the marriage between Lạc Long Quân (dragon king) and Âu Cơ (godmother goddess). However, the only reliable sources indicate that the history of the country began around  700 BC. n. and. Historians consider that the Dong Son civilization is common to many peoples of Southeast Asia .

It was predynastic

The Qin dynasty ― also called Triệu Đà― established a state called Nam Việt, which was located in southern China and the Red River delta . In the year 258 a. n. and. , Thuc Phan formed the kingdom called Áu Lac (formed by the union of Áu Viet and Lac Viet – Van Lang), in the north of Vietnam. Thuc Phan proclaimed himself king by the name of An Vuong Duong.

After a long war against the Chinese Qin dynasty, An Vuong Duong was defeated by General Qin, Trieu Da in 208 BC. n. and. Trieu Da was proclaimed king when the Qin dynasty fell to the Han dynasty . He named his kingdom Nanyue, combining Au Lac with territories in southern China. Vietnam gained its independence in the early 10th century , and its full autonomy a century later.

Vietnamese temple
Vietnamese temple

The historical significance of the origin of Nam Việt is controversial today because for some scholars this territory was under Chinese rule, while for others it already constitutes a period of independence. From 111 a. n. and. Until the 10th century, Vietnam was under the command of different Chinese dynasties. Sporadic independence did not achieve great achievements before the power of China .

It was dynastic

In 938 a Vietnamese lord named Ngô Quyền managed to defeat the Chinese forces in the Battle of the Bach Dang River and achieved independence after 10 centuries under Chinese control. Named Đại Việt, the nation reached its golden age during the Lý Dynasty and the Trần Dynasty .

During the latter’s reign, Đại Việt was able to defend itself from three invasion attempts by the Mongols in 1257 ; 1284 – 1285 ; 1287 – 1288 . After the brief Hồ Dynasty, the independence of Đại Việt was briefly interrupted by the Ming Dynasty of China , but was restored by Lê Lợi, the founder of the Lê Dynasty.

Time in which feudalism reached its maximum splendor ( 15th century ), especially during the reign of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông. Between the 11th and 18th centuries , the Vietnamese expanded south in a process that they called nam tiến (southern expansion and that led them to conquer the Kingdom of Champa (which disappeared permanently as a state) and part of the Khmer Empire (Kampuchea Krom) .

Towards the end of the Lê Dynasty, Vietnam suffered civil conflicts, first with the support that the Chinese gave to the Mac Dynasty and which challenged the power of the Lê Dynasty and later the Mac Dynasty was defeated and the previous one restored but lost great power. Then power was divided between the Trịnh Lords in the north and the Nguyễn Lords in the south, leading the country to a new conflict: the Trịnh-Nguyễn Civil War that lasted for more than a century.

The war ended when the Tây Sơn brothers defeated both and established a new dynasty. However, their rule did not last and they were defeated by the remnants of the Nguyễn Lords with the help of the French who established the Nguyễn Dynasty .

The period of rule of the native dynasties ended in the middle of the 19th century , when the country was colonized by the French Empire . The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. A modern Western educational system was imposed, Christianity, the cultivation of tobacco, indigo, tea and coffee was developed.

The French ignored the constant calls for independence and civil rights, leading to the early rise of nationalist political movements among which emerged leaders such as Phan Boi Chau , Phan Chu Trinh , Emperor Ham Nghi, and Ho Chi Minh . During the Second World War (1939-1945) , Japan occupied Vietnam; but it respected French authority for being the Vichy government collaborating with its ally, Nazi Germany . Vietnam’s natural resources were exploited by Japan for its military campaigns in Burma , Malaysia and India . Towards the end of the war, the Japanese tried to overthrow French power on suspicion of support for a possible Allied invasion.

At the end of the war, France tried to reestablish its control; but it failed before a powerful nationalist movement in the insurgency under Ho Chi Minh , which was ready to challenge the French under the banners of independence and communism. After the defeat of Japan, the nationalist forces of Indochina proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and faced France in what was called the First Indochina War (1945-1954), which the French eventually lost to the Vietnamese people. The greatest defeat of the French occurred in the famous Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which preceded a rapid withdrawal from their colonies. However, the countries that had fought in this first Vietnam War divided the country at the 17th parallel, between what was called North Vietnam and South Vietnam according to the Geneva Agreement (1954).

Vietnam War

The imperialist United States were on the side of the French imperialists in the struggles against the independence of Viet Nam.

Images of war
Images of war

The United States intervened in the South. Tensions quickly sparked the war against Vietnam , which ended in a crushing defeat of US troops in March 1973 and the taking of Saigon in April 1975 . In 1976 , Vietnam was unified and took the name of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The intention to reunify the country through elections did not have good results due to the refusal of the United States, which, fearful of an electoral victory for the communists, began to send troops to South Vietnam. The US Gulf of Tonkin Incident was the trigger for the war: US forces attacked military installations in North Vietnam and sent more than 500,000 troops south.

The US army was quickly greeted by a guerrilla war led by the Viet Cong, the popular guerrilla of South Vietnam. North Vietnamese forces attempted to take the south in 1968 during the Tet Offensive and this caused neighboring Cambodia and Laos to soon become involved in the conflict. With the increase in casualties in the US ranks, that country began the process of transferring the combat role to the military forces of South Vietnam in what they called “Vietnamization” but these efforts brought bad results.

The Peace Agreement of Paris of the 27 of January of 1973 formally recognized the sovereignty of both parties (Vietnam from the North and Vietnam of the South) and the agreement US troops should be withdrawn for March 29 , 1973. Some limited confrontations continued, But the next big moment would be in April 1975 when North Vietnam defeated the puppet regime of the South and then proclaimed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 2 , 1976 .

In 1978 , Vietnam ended the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea ( Cambodia ) that had unleashed the genocide of more than three million people. It maintained about 100,000 soldiers throughout the 1980s. Negotiations to reestablish diplomatic relations with the United States began in the late 1990s.

The aggression of the United States destroyed the country, but today it is one of the most prosperous nations in Southeast Asia, thanks to the intelligence and industriousness of its people, led by the Communist Party of Viet Nam.

Renewal (DOI MOI)

In 1986 the Communist Party of Vietnam implemented the economic changes known as Đổi Mới (Renewal) to accelerate the recovery of the country from the terrible ravages of the imperialist war. Private property in the countryside and businesses was encouraged and foreign investment was encouraged under the leadership of the Communist Party.

Vietnam’s economy then achieved rapid growth in industrial and agricultural production, construction, exports, and foreign investment. Today it is considered the fastest growing economy in the world.

Foreign policy

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam applies the independent, sovereign, friendly foreign policy of diversification and multilateralization of international relations, of international integration with the guideline that Vietnam is willing to be a friend and reliable partner of all the countries of the world community in the common effort for peace, independence and development.


Vietnam is located in the east of the Indochina Peninsula and southeast of Asia , in a totally tropical zone. To the east and south of Vietnam are the East Sea and the Pacific (with more than 3000 km of coastline); It borders China to the north and Laos and Cambodia to the west.

The country is shaped like the letter S, wide in the north (600 km) and in the south (400 km) and very narrow in the center (50 km – Quang Binh province). The distance between two extreme points of the north and the south is of 1650 km.

Territorial boundaries: Total: 4 639 km. Neighboring countries: Cambodia (1,228 km), China (1,281 km), Laos (2,130 km).

Map of Vietnam
Map of Vietnam

It has an area of ​​about 331 688 km 2 (slightly smaller than Germany ). The topographic system consists of hills and mountains densely populated with trees, covering 20% ​​of the territory. 40% of the territory is mountainous and forests occupy 75%. Fan Si Pan Mountain is the highest in Vietnam (3,143 m).

The country has two main plains: the Red River delta (Sông Hồng, in the north) of 15,000 km 2 and the Cuu Long River delta (Sông Cửu Long – Mekong, in the south) of 40,000 km 2 .


The climate is tropical and monsoon; humidity is 84% ​​on average during the year. Annual precipitation ranges from 1,200 to 3,000 mm, and temperatures range from 5 ° C to 37 ° C.

Flora and fauna

Biodiversity is unique in Vietnam. The entire country appears covered with vegetation, while forests occupy 30% of the national territory. In the monsoon forest we find pines, bamboos, large-leaved plants and crops. Mangroves surround the tributaries of the deltas.

The large mammals of Southeast Asia inhabit the tropical rainforest: elephants, bears, deer, tigers, panthers (leopards), a great variety of monkeys, hares, squirrels, otters, birds (more than 700 species), reptiles (such as the porous crocodile and siamese, python and lizards) and some 450 species of freshwater fish.

Vietnam is located in the Indomalaya ecozone, according to the WWF. In species diversity, Vietnam is one of the 25 countries with a high level of biodiversity. It is ranked number 16.

The country is home to almost 16,000 plant species, 10% of which are endemic. It is also home to some 237 species of mammals (33% are endemic), 260 species of reptiles, 120 species of amphibians, 840 species of birds (between 11 and 12% are endemic), 1,438 species of microalgae (9.6% of the total microalgae species in the world), 794 species of aquatic invertebrates and 2 458 species of marine fish.

In 2004, there were some 126 conservation areas, including 28 national parks, comprising about 1.2 million ha of protected land. For more information on Vietnam’s protected areas, see Vietnam’s Protected Areas.

Among the fauna of Vietnam are:

  • The Asian elephant that inhabits large large forested areas throughout the country.
  • The Indian muntiac a species of deer discovered in 1996 in Vu Quang National Park .
  • The dole is a species of canid, its distribution in Vietnam is unknown. Its distribution at the national level is unknown, the American Museum of Natural History estimates its distribution area in the mountains of the north, center and south of the country. It is known that it safely inhabits the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park , as in late February 2008 the directors of the park’s Science Center reported that dole traces had appeared in various sectors of the park.
  • The pseudoryx nghetinhensis or saola a species discovered in 1992 . It only inhabits an area of ​​500,000 hectares covered with forests along the border with Laos .
  • The cervus eldii or tamín deer species identified in the west of the country in 2000 , there was no record of its existence since 1986 .
  • The Indochinese tiger , about 200 individuals inhabit the forested mountains of the country, threatened with extinction. They are safe in about 100 protected areas.
  • The cissa chinensis or green crow a small colorful bird that inhabits the forests east of the Mekong River .
  • The megalaima franklinii a small bird that lives in the south of the country.
  • The eastern crótalo a species of poisonous snake, a rare inhabitant of the forests of the northwest of the country.

Economic development

In 1986 , during the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, market elements began to be introduced as part of a broad package of economic reforms called Doi Moi (“Renewal”). In many ways, this followed the Chinese model and obtained similar results.

On the one hand, Vietnam achieved a GDP growth of 8% per year between 1990 and 1997 and continued to be around 7% during the years 2000 to 2002 , thus becoming the second fastest growing economy in the world. Simultaneously, investments and savings multiplied.

In 2007 the unemployment rate was at 4.3%, standing in the middle. However, Vietnam is today ( 2008 ) one of the countries with the lowest percentage of unemployed population.

This set of data allows us to deduce that Vietnam can become a developed country in a short time. In 2007 the economy grew by 8.5%, which placed Vietnam as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Poverty has been reduced considerably and is at less than 15%, the population in extreme poverty is situated at a scarce 2% and is much lower than that of other countries in the area.


Although in the West it is known especially for the events of the Vietnam War , the truth is that it is a culture and a nation with an ancient ancestral history and is currently a country with promising economic potential.

In 2008 , Vietnam had a population of 86 116 560 inhabitants; the population density that same year was 261.3 inhabitants / km 2 , which places it in the 13th position of the most populated countries in the world and also appears on the list of the so-called Next Eleven economies . According to official figures, its growth has 8.17% in its GDP for 2008 , which makes Vietnam the second country in the Far East in rapid economic growth and the first in Southeast Asia.

Since 1990 the birth rate has been declining, currently standing at 16.47 births per 1,000 inhabitants. The mortality rate stands at a meager 6.18%, however the infant mortality rate shoots up to 2.36% (in comparison, in Cuba infant mortality has already been reduced to 4%). The net emigration rate is negative, -0.39 emigrants / 1000. The population growth rate is 0.99%. It is estimated that the rate of population growth will be zero before 2020.

Life expectancy is 72 years, 94.3% of the population is literate and the average number of children per woman is 1.89, one of the lowest in Southeast Asia.

The Kinh ethnic group represents 87% of the population and is the main inhabitant of the cities and the plains, leaving the rest of the groups the predominance of the mountainous areas.

50% of those who live in the country are under 25 years of age and the average age of the population is 26.9 years.

Demographic evolution:

  • Year 0 = 1 million (in the northern region governed by China ).
  • Year 1000 = 1.5-3 million, north. About 1 to 1.5 million in the south, plus 1 million Cambodian Khmer.
  • 1900 = 13.5 million.
  • 1939 = 20.3 million.
  • 1954 = 30.5 million.
  • 1968 = 40.1 million.
  • 1975 = 46.6 million.
  • 1989 = 64.8 million.
  • 1994 = 72.5 million.
  • 2000 = 80 million.


Regarding children and young people, Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund) has stated that since the advent of the socialist government (in 1975), the chances of Vietnamese children to survive and become healthy adults have improved significantly, thanks to tremendous progress in vaccination against preventable diseases and better nutrition.

The number of girls and boys going to school has doubled since 1977 , resulting in the literacy rate for women increasing from 72% in 1972 to 90% today.



The official language of the country is Vietnamese (tiếng Việt) and it is written using the Vietnamese alphabet (chữ quốc ngữ), based on the Latin alphabet ; some ethnic groups have their own dialect and even their own writing.


81% of the population is atheist or agnostic . Most religious people profess Buddhism (introduced from India in the 2nd century BC. The Vietnamese also profess Catholicism (introduced at the beginning of the 18th century ), Protestantism (since 1911) and Islam . There are also religions indigenous, such as cao dai , joa jao .

Vietnamese new year

Vietnam has an annual holiday that sums up everything that is its cultural identity. This holiday is the Vietnamese New Year , called by them as New Year or Tet . These popular festivals are a mirror of local customs and the prevailing idiosyncrasy.

“Tet” is a word of Chinese origin, and is a phonetic deformation of “Tiet”, which means “set of bamboo stern”, although in a broader sense it means “beginning of a period of the year”.

The Vietnamese Lunar New Year occurs in the last ten days of January or the first twenty days of February, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Chinese, French, English (which is expanding), and numerous languages ​​of the hill tribes are also common.


Vietnamese food is characterized by the use of fish sauces and the use of vegetables. “Chả giò” (spring roll), “Gỏi cuốn” (summer roll) and “Phở” (rice noodle soup) are among the most common dishes.


Quan They
CA Tru
Ho Hue
Musical instruments:
Water puppets.

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