Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea – referred to in Vietnam as the East Sea – to the east.
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Settlements in the region of the Red River Valley in Vietnam had already existed some 5000 years ago. The entire region was ruled by China from 111 BC and ended in 938 AD when revolts toppled the Chinese ruling dynasty who ruled the land. China attempted to invade a number of times after the independence but was always met with resistance. In the 17th century, Vietnam was divided into two kingdoms, one ruled by the Nguyen dynasty and another by the Tay Son.
In 1802, a French-backed Nguyen lord defeated the Tay Son, creating the single kingdom of Vietnam.
In 1890, the region was invaded and conquered by France, becoming a French protectorate.
Vietnam was briefly conquered by Japan during the World War II and in 1945, Ho Chi Minh - the leader of the Vietnamese Communist Party, declared the country's independence. France's attempts to re-invade the country led to the First Indochina War. It ended when the Viet Minh (The Vietnamese Communist Party) defeated France in 1954.
Vietnam then became divided into the Communist North and the non-Communist South. In 1957, a communist group from the South called the Viet Kong emerged, leading to the Vietnam War. The United States backed the Vietnamese government but soon withdrew from the war. In 1975, the war ended when the communists overran the south and took Saigon - leading to the single-party socialist republic of Vietnam.
Vietnam is located on the southern and eastern portion of the Indochinese peninsula and belongs to Southeast Asia. Its borders are China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. The eastern part of the country, consisting of over 3000km of coastline is facing the South China Sea.
About 40% of Vietnam's total land area consists of mountains while 42% are covered with tropical forests.
Vietnam is a single-party socialist republic. The National Assembly of Vietnam makes up of 500 members who are elected into office by popular vote and all serve 4-year terms. They elect the President of Vietnam, who serves as head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The leader of the National Assembly is also the Prime Minister - who is head of government and holds the country's highest political position.
Vietnam is a top travel destination in Southeast Asia. The country receives an average of 6 million tourists each year - visiting the country for its affordable tourist destinations, archaeological sites, historic cities, beautiful beaches, and amazing culture.
Vietnam has a total of 32 national parks, 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 21 national tourists areas. The most popular cities to visit are Hanoi, which is the capital, and Ho Chi Minh City or formerly Saigon - the old capital and famous in the Western world due to the Vietnam War.
Hanoi is the capital today and famous for offering modern comforts as well as cultural and historic sites. The Old Quarter district survived the Vietnam War and it's famous for being an open-air museum of historic French and Asian architecture. The city is also famous for its cafes and French patisseries.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hue is filled with ruins and historic structures that make it a must-visit in Vietnam. Here you can find Citadel - a complex of palaces, walls, gates, and ornate temples. The Thien Mu Pagoda is also found here - an iconic structure, featuring 7 stories and a view that overlooks the Perfume River. It is also the tallest pagoda in Vietnam.
The most famous tourist destination and attraction in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay - consisting of over 2000 small islands which are topped by thick jungles, filled with caves to explore, as well as lakes and other beautiful sites to see.
Nha Trang is Vietnam's most popular coastal region - famous for its luxurious hotels, scuba diving, and backpacker accommodation.
Vietnam's literacy rate is at 94% - one of the highest for a developing country. There are 5 categories for general education in the country, which are: kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school, and university.
There are both public and private universities in Vietnam but most are located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. Getting into a public university in Vietnam is regarded to be the first step to success. An annual examination is held every year for graduating high school students, and out of over a million who take the exam, only about 20% pass.
- Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashews in the world.
- They are the 2nd largest exporter of rice.
- Vietnamese food is considered to be one of the healthiest - due to its dominant use of fresh ingredients.
- About 10 million motorbikes travel the streets of Vietnam every day.
Source Code: IW20141218
Last Updated : December 19, 2014
Largest CityHo Chi Minh City
Major ReligionMahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism
Form of GovernmentSingle-party socialist republic
PresidentTruong Tan Sang
Vice PresidentNguyen Thi Doan
Prime MinisterNguyen Tan Dung (PM) Vu Van Ninh (Deputy PM)
GDP$358.889 billion 2013 estimate