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Flag of Vietnam
Map of Vietnam
Introduction Vietnam
France occupied all of Vietnam by 1884. Independence was declared after World War II, but the French continued to rule until 1954 when they were defeated by Communist forces under Ho Chi MINH, who took control of the north. 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military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973.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. Economic reconstruction of the reunited country has proven difficult as aging Communist Party leaders have only grudgingly initiated reforms necessary for a free market.
Geography Vietnam
Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia
Geographic coordinates:
16 00 N, 106 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
total: 329,560 sq km
land: 325,360 sq km
water: 4,200 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:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (mid-May to mid-September) and warm, dry season (mid-October to mid-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, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, forests, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 17.41%
permanent crops: 4.71%
other: 77.88% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
30,000 sq km (1998 est.)
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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note:
extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point
People Vietnam
81,098,416 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 31.6% (male 13,259,152; female 12,392,089)
15-64 years: 62.9% (male 24,938,098; female 26,083,681)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 1,749,531; female 2,675,865) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.43% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
20.89 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
6.14 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.65 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
29.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.86 years
female: 72.5 years (2002 est.)
male: 67.4 years
Total fertility rate:
2.44 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.24% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
100,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
2,500 (1999 est.)
noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese
Ethnic groups:
Vietnamese 85%-90%, Chinese, Hmong, Thai, Khmer, Cham, mountain groups
Buddhist, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Christian (predominantly Roman Catholic, some Protestant), indigenous beliefs, Muslim
Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.7%
male: 96.5%
female: 91.2% (1995 est.)
Government Vietnam
Country name:
conventional long form: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
conventional short form: Vietnam
local short form: Viet Nam
abbreviation: SRV
local long form: Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam
Government type:
Communist state
Administrative divisions:
58 provinces (tinh, singular and plural), and 3 municipalities* (thu do, 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, Can Tho, Cao Bang, Dac Lak, Da Nang, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Hai Duong, Hai Phong*, Ha Nam, Ha Noi*, Ha Tay, Ha Tinh, Hoa Binh, Ho Chi Minh*, 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
2 September 1945 (from France)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 2 September (1945)
15 April 1992
Legal system:
based on communist legal theory and French civil law system
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Tran Duc LUONG (since 24 September 1997)
elections: president elected by the National Assembly from among its members for a five-year term; election last held 24 September 1997 (next to be held when National Assembly meets following legislative elections in May 2002); prime minister appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by the prime minister
head of government: Prime Minister Phan Van KHAI (since 25 September 1997); First Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan DUNG (since 29 September 1997); Deputy Prime Ministers Vu KHOAN (since NA) and Pham Gia KHIEM (since 29 September 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the proposal of the prime minister and ratification of the National Assembly
election results: Tran Duc LUONG elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA%
Legislative branch:
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:
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:
only party - Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV [Nong Duc MANH, general secretary]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Nguyen Tam CHIEN
consulate(s) general: San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 861-0917
telephone: [1] (202) 861-0737
chancery: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Raymond F. BURGHARDT
embassy: 7 Lang Ha Road, 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:
red with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center
Economy Vietnam
Economy - overview:
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 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 6% in 1998 and 5% in 1999. Growth then rose to 6.8% in 2000 and dropped back to 4.7% in 2001 against the background of global recession. These numbers mask some major difficulties 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. Meanwhile, Vietnamese authorities have moved slowly in implementing the structural reforms needed to revitalize the economy and produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement entered into force near the end of 2001 and is expected to significantly increase Vietnam's exports to the US. The US is assisting Vietnam with implementing the legal and structural reforms called for in the agreement.
purchasing power parity - $168.1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.7% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $2,100 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 35%
services: 40% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
37% (1998 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 4%
highest 10%: 30% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
36 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-0.3% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
38.2 million (1998 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 67%, industry and services 33% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
25% (1995 est.)
revenues: $5.3 billion
expenditures: $5.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.8 billion (1999 est.)
food processing, garments, shoes, machine building, mining, cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, coal, steel, paper
Industrial production growth rate:
10.4% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
25.775 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 41%
hydro: 59%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
23.97 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
paddy rice, corn, potatoes, rubber, soybeans, coffee, tea, bananas, sugar; poultry, pigs; fish
$15.1 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes
Exports - partners:
Japan 18.1%, China 10.6%, Australia 8.8%, Singapore 6.1%, Taiwan 5.2%, Germany 5.1%, US 5.1% (2000)
$15.3 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products, raw cotton, grain, cement, motorcycles
Imports - partners:
Singapore 17.7%, Japan 14.4%, Taiwan 12.1%, South Korea 11.1%, China 9.1%, Thailand 5.2%, Hong Kong 3.9% (2000)
Debt - external:
$13.2 billion (2000)
Economic aid - recipient:
$2.1 billion in credits and grants pledged by international donors for 2000
dong (VND)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
dong per US dollar - 15,085 (January 2002), 14,725 (2001), 14,168 (2000), 13,943 (1999), 13,268 (1998), 11,683 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Vietnam
Telephones - main lines in use:
2.6 million (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
730,155 (2000)
Telephone system:
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; since 1991, main lines in use have been substantially increased and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 65, FM 7, shortwave 29 (1999)
8.2 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
at least 7 (plus 13 repeaters) (1998)
3.57 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
5 (2000)
Internet users:
400,000 (2002)
Transportation Vietnam
total: 3,142 km
standard gauge: 209 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 2,625 km 1.000-m gauge
dual gauge: 308 km three-rail track combining 1.435-m and 1.000-m gauges (2001)
total: 93,300 km
paved: 23,418 km
unpaved: 69,882 km (1996)
17,702 km
note: more than 5,149 km are navigable at all times by vessels up to 1.8 m draft
petroleum products 150 km
Ports and harbors:
Cam Ranh, Da Nang, Haiphong, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Vinh, Vung Tau
Merchant marine:
total: 153 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 782,912 GRT/1,173,186 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Cambodia 1, Japan 1, Singapore 1, United Kingdom 2 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 9, cargo 113, chemical tanker 1, combination bulk 1, container 5, liquefied gas 2, petroleum tanker 20, refrigerated cargo 2
34 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 17
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 17
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 8 (2002)
Military Vietnam
Military branches:
People's Army of Vietnam (includes Ground Forces, People's Navy Command [including Naval Infantry], Air and Air Defense Force, Coast Guard)
Military manpower - military age:
17 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 22,220,891 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 13,978,653 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 961,124 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$650 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.5% (FY98)
Transnational Issues Vietnam
Disputes - international:
Vietnam disputes several offshore islands with Cambodia, preventing delimitation of a maritime boundary; Cambodia accuses Vietnam of territorial encroachments and initiating armed border incidents in seven provinces; demarcation of boundaries with Laos is nearing completion, but Laos protests Vietnamese squatters; involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and possibly Brunei; maritime boundary with China in the Gulf of Tonkin still awaits ratification; Paracel Islands occupied by China but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; demarcation of the land boundary with China has commenced, but details of the alignment have not been made public
Illicit drugs:
minor producer of opium poppy; probable minor transit point for Southeast Asian heroin; domestic opium/heroin/methamphetamine addiction problems

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003