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Whitaker's Almanack: Vietnam

Information on Vietnam

See also QFINANCE article

Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam – Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Whitaker's Almanack Definitions

  • Area – 331,210 sq. km
  • Capital – Hanoi; population, 2,667,800 (2009 est)
  • Major cities – Bien Hoa, Da Nang, Haiphong, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
  • Currency – Dong of 10 ho or 100 xu
  • Population – 91,519,289 rising at 1.05 per cent a year (2012 est); Kinh (85.7 per cent), Tay (1.9 per cent), Thai (1.8 per cent), Muong (1.5 per cent), Khmer (1.5 per cent), Hmong (1.2 per cent), Nung (1.1 per cent) (2009)
  • Religion – Buddhist 50 per cent (predominantly Mahayana), Christian (Roman Catholic 7 per cent, Protestant 1 per cent), Cao Dai 3 per cent, Hoa Hao 2 per cent (est). Cao Dai is a syncretistic religion that combines elements of several faiths. Hoa Hao is a branch of Buddhism
  • Language – Vietnamese (official), English, French, Chinese, Khmer; Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian are spoken in mountain areas
  • Population density – 280 per sq. km (2010)
  • Urban population – 28.8 per cent (2010 est)
  • Median age (years) – 27.8 (2011 est)
  • National anthem – 'Tien Quan Ca' ['Army March']
  • National day – 2 September (Independence Day)
  • Death penalty – Retained
  • CPI score – 2.9 (2011)

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Climate and Terrain

The country is mostly mountainous, apart from the densely populated fertile plains around the deltas of the Hong (Red River) in the north and the Mekong in the south. Elevation extremes range from 3,144m (Fan Si Pan) to 0m (South China Sea). The climate is tropical and affected by the monsoon cycle. The wet season lasts from May to September, although the coast, being affected by typhoons and tropical storms, receives most rain between September and January.

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History and Politics

The 1992 constitution was amended in 2001 to allow small-scale capitalism greater freedom. The president is elected by the legislature to serve a five-year term. The unicameral National Assembly (Quoc-Hoi) has 500 members, who are directly elected for a five-year term. The head of government is the prime minister, who is responsible to the National Assembly, which appoints the council of ministers. However, effective power lies with the Communist Party of Vietnam. Its highest executive body is the Central Committee, elected by the national party congress held every five years. The politburo and the secretariat of the central committee, which exercise the real power, are elected at the party congress.

After the 2006 Communist Party Congress, the president and prime minister resigned to allow a younger leadership to be appointed; Nguyen Minh Triet was elected president to complete his predecessor's term of office, and he appointed Nguyen Tan Dung as prime minister. Both were re-elected to their posts in 2007, but the former lost the 2011 presidential race to Truong Tan Sang. In the May 2011 legislative election, the Communist Party and its allies held all the seats apart from four won by independent candidates.


President, Truong Tan Sang, elected 25 July 2011
Vice-President, Nguyen Thi Doan


Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung
Deputy Prime Ministers, Vu Van Ninh; Nguyen Thien Nhan; Hoang Trung Hai; Nguyen Xuan Phuc
Finance, Vuong Dinh Hue
Internal Affairs, Nguyen Thai Binh


12–14 Victoria Road, London W8 5RD
T 020-7937 1912 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Vu Quang Minh, apptd 2011


Central Building, 31 Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
T (+84) (4) 936 0500 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Dr Antony Stokes, LVO, apptd 2010

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All aged 16–49, 2010 estMalesFemales
Available for military service25,649,73824,995,692
Fit for military service20,405,84721,098,102

Military expenditure – US$2,487m (2011)
Conscription duration – 24–36 months

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Economy and Trade

The economy struggled for a decade after 1975 owing to the devastation of war and the imposition of a centrally planned economy. Since economic liberalisation and international integration were adopted in 1986, the economy has grown substantially, albeit from a low base, and export-driven industries are being developed. Poverty was reduced by over 40 per cent between 1993 and 2007, although more remote rural areas have yet to benefit. The global downturn reduced economic growth in 2008–9, and in early 2012 the government introduced a three-fold economic reform programme, proposing a restructuring of the banking sector, public spending and state-owned enterprises.

Agriculture's contribution is gradually shrinking, but still accounts for 22 per cent of GDP and employs 48 per cent of the workforce. The main industries are food processing, clothing and footwear, machine building, coal mining, steel, cement, chemical fertiliser, glass, tyres and paper, and oil and gas production from large offshore reserves. Industry now contributes 40.3 per cent of GDP and services 37.7 per cent.

The main trading partners are China, Japan, the USA and South Korea. Principal exports are clothing, footwear, fish and seafood, crude oil, electronics, wood products, rice and machinery. The main imports are machinery and equipment, petroleum products, steel products, raw materials, electronics, plastics and vehicles.

GNI – US$102,007m; US$1,160 per capita (2010)
Annual average growth of GDP – 5.8 per cent (2011 est)
Inflation rate – 18.9 per cent (2011 est)
Population below poverty line – 14.5 per cent (2010 est)
Unemployment – 2.3 per cent (2011 est)
Total external debt – US$37,340m (2011 est)
Imports – US$83,800m (2010)
Exports – US$71,700m (2010)


Trade – US$12,100m deficit (2010)
Current Account – US$3,928m deficit (2010)

Trade with UK20102011
Imports from UK£276,293,147£325,334,242
Exports to UK£1,236,732,020£1,666,605,141

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Airports and waterways – The principal airports and ports are at Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang

Roadways and railways – There are 180,549km of roads and 2,632km of railways

Telecommunications – 16.4 million fixed lines and 154 million mobile subscriptions (2009); there were 23.38 million internet users in 2009

Internet code and IDD – vn; 84 (from UK), 44 (to UK)

Major broadcasters – VTV is the state-run broadcaster

Press – There are over a hundred different newspapers and magazines, including Nhan Dan, the Communist Party daily and the English-language Vietnam Economic Times

WPFI score – 75,75 (165)

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Education and Health

Literacy rate – 92.8 per cent (2009 est)
Gross enrolment ratio (percentage of relevant age group) – primary 106 per cent (2010 est); secondary 77 per cent (2008 est); tertiary 22 per cent (2010 est)
Health expenditure (per capita) – US$80 (2009)
Hospital beds (per 1,000 people) – 2.9 (2004–9)
Life expectancy (years) – 72.41 (2012 est)
Mortality rate – 5.95 (2012 est)
Birth rate – 16.83 (2012 est)
Infant mortality rate – 20.24 (2012 est)

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