Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia. Read our Vietnam Travel Information page for more details on how to get in and around the country.
Vietnam’s total area is 329,560 sq km, making it slightly larger than New Mexico. Its climate is tropical in the south and monsoonal in the north with a hot, rainy season (from May to September) and a warm, dry season (from October to March). The terrain is composed mainly of low, flat delta in the south and north, with central highlands and a hilly, mountainous terrain in the far north and northwest. Its highest point is Fan Si Pan with a height of 3,144 m. Thailand’s natural resources consist mainly of phosphates, coal, manganese, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, forests, and hydropower.
More than 85,000,000 people live in Vietnam. Life expectancy is 71.07 years. Birth rate is 16.63 births per 1,000. Literacy rate is 90.3%.
Vietnamese is the official language, but English is increasingly favored as a second language. Some French, Chinese, and Khmer is spoken, as are a few mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian).
Kinh (Viet), Tay, Thai, Muong, Khome, Hoa, Nun, Hmong
80% of the population are professed atheists; 9.3% of the country is Buddhist; Catholics, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Protestant, Muslim comprise the rest
From 1887, Vietnam was part of French Indochina. Independence was declared after WWII, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by Communist forces under Ho Chi Minh. The 1954 Geneva Accords divided Vietnam into the Communist North and anti-Communist South. US involvement in Vietnam grew through the 1960s, but US armed forces left following a 1973 ceasefire agreement. North Vietnamese forces reunited the country under Communist rule. For over a decade conservative leadership policies stifled economic growth. Since 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to economic liberalization and structural reforms.
Vietnam is a densely-populated, developing country that in the last 30 years 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. Growth averaged around 9% per year from 1993 to 1997. The 1997 Asian financial crisis temporarily allowed opponents of reform to slow progress toward a market-oriented economy. GDP growth averaged 6.8% per year from 1997 to 2004 even against the background of the Asian financial crisis and a global recession, and growth hit 8% in 2005 and 7.8% in 2006.