About Vietnam...

 

 

Vietnam

Officially, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. With an estimated 90.3 million inhabitants as of 2012, it is the world's 13th-most-populous country, and the eighth-most-populous Asian country. The name Vietnam translates as "Southern Viet" (synonymous with the much more ancient term Nam Viet), and was first officially adopted in 1802 by Emperor Gia Long and again in 1945 with the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh. The country is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea to the east. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976. 

The Vietnamese became independent from Imperial China in AD 938, following the resounding Vietnamese victory in the Battle of Bạch Đằng River. Successive Vietnamese royal dynasties flourished as the nation expanded geographically and politically into Southeast Asia, until the Indochina Peninsula was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. Following a Japanese occupation in the 1940s, the Vietnamese fought French rule in the First Indochina War, eventually expelling the French in 1954. Thereafter, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North and South Vietnam. Conflict between the two sides intensified, in what is known as the Vietnam War, with the North and the Vietcong fighting South Vietnam heavily backed by the US. The war ended with a North Vietnamese victory in 1975.

Vietnam was then unified under a Communist government but remained impoverished and politically isolated. In 1986, the government initiated a series of economic and political reforms which began Vietnam's path towards integration into the world economy. By 2000, it had established diplomatic relations with most nations. Since 2000, Vietnam's economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world and in 2011 it had the highest Global Growth Generators Index among 11 major economies. Its successful economic reforms resulted in its joining the World Trade Organization in 2007. However, the country still experiences high levels of income inequality, disparities in access to healthcare, and a lack of gender equality.

 

Languages

The official national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese

 

Religion

For much of Vietnamese history, Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism have been the dominant religions, strongly influencing the national culture. About 85% of Vietnamese identify with Buddhism, though not all practice on a regular basis.

 

Culture

Vietnam's culture has developed over the centuries from indigenous ancient Dong Son culture with wet rice agriculture as its economic base. Some elements of the national culture have Chinese origins, drawing on elements of Confucianism and Taoism in its traditional political system and philosophy. Vietnamese society is structured around làng (ancestral villages); all Vietnamese mark a common ancestral anniversary on the tenth day of the third lunar month. The influences of immigrant peoples – such as the Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien and Hainan cultures – can also be seen, while the national religion of Buddhism is strongly entwined with popular culture. In recent centuries, the influences of Western cultures, most notably France and the United States, have become evident in Vietnam.

The traditional focuses of Vietnamese culture are humanity (nhân nghĩa) and harmony (hòa); family and community values are highly regarded. Vietnam reveres a number of key cultural symbols, such as the Vietnamese dragon, which is derived from crocodile and snake imagery; Vietnam's National Father, Lạc Long Quân, is depicted as a holy dragon. The lạc – a holy bird representing Vietnam's National Mother, Âu Cơ – is another prominent symbol, while turtle and horse images are also revered.

In the modern era, the cultural life of Vietnam has been deeply influenced by government-controlled media and cultural programs. For many decades, foreign cultural influences – especially those of Western origin – were shunned. However, since the 1990s, Vietnam has seen a greater exposure to Southeast Asian, European and American culture and media.

 

Geography

Vietnam is located on the eastern Indochina Peninsula. It covers a total area of approximately 331,210 km2 (127,881 sq mi), making it almost the size of Germany. The northern part of the country consists mostly of highlands and the Red River Delta. Phan Xi Păng, located in Lào Cai Province, is the highest mountain in Vietnam, standing 3,143 m (10,312 ft) high. Southern Vietnam is divided into coastal lowlands, the mountains of the Annamite Range, and extensive forests. Comprising five relatively flat plateaus of basalt soil, the highlands account for 16% of the country's arable land and 22% of its total forested land. The soil in much of southern Vietnam is relatively poor in nutrients.

 

Climate

Because of differences in latitude and the marked variety in topographical relief, the climate tends to vary considerably from place to place. During the winter or dry season, extending roughly from November to April, the monsoon winds usually blow from the northeast along the Chinese coast and across the Gulf of Tonkin, picking up considerable moisture. Consequently, the winter season in most parts of the country is dry only by comparison with the rainy or summer season. The average annual temperature is generally higher in the plains than in the mountains, and higher in the south than in the north. Temperatures vary less in the southern plains around Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, ranging between 21 and 28 °C (69.8 and 82.4 °F) over the course of the year. Seasonal variations in the mountains and plateaus and in the north are much more dramatic, with temperatures varying from 5 °C (41.0 °F) in December and January to 37 °C (98.6 °F) in July and August.

 

Capital: Hanoi

Largest city: Ho Chi Minh City

Calling code: +84

Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)

Population: 90,388,000

Area: 331,210 km2 

Government: Communist state, Socialist state, Single-party state

President: Trương Tấn Sang

Prime Minister: Nguyễn Tấn Dũng

Official language: Vietnamese Language

Time zone: ICT (Indochina Time) UTC+7

 

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