The ancient origins of Vietnam’s literature, language and culture, and the country itself, began in the north along the fringes of the Red River Delta.
Long controlled and influenced by the Chinese, it enjoyed nine centuries of independence, until, in the 19th century, the French colonial period began. In 1887, Vietnam became a part of French Indochina.
At the end of World War II Vietnam declared its independence, however, France continued its control until soundly defeated by Ho Chi Minh’s Communist forces in 1954.
Shortly thereafter, based on the Geneva Accord, Vietnam was divided into two parts; the Communist North and the anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam began to grow and serious conflict was on the horizon.
In March, 1965, the first American troops landed in South Vietnam, and the bloody conflict called the Vietnam War began.
After tens of thousands died on both sides, and billions in military expenditures, this sad, tragic war finally ended on April 30, 1975.
Two years later the remains of the South’s army fell, and Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, and North and South joined together as one.
For the next few decades, Vietnam, demoralized by the affects of war, remained economically stagnant. Over the last five years Vietnam’s government has made a series of changes (reforms) designed to make the country more competitive in the 21st Century, and by all accounts, it’s working.
A statue of Ho Ch� Minh, a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary and statesman who was Prime Minister (1946�1955) and President (1946�1969) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). In Vietnam today, he is regarded with almost god-like status by the Communist government.
Facts and Figures
Name Vietnam (long form) Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Capital City Hanoi (1.7 million)
Currency Dong (VND)
Languages Vietnamese (official), English, French, Chinese, Khmer, others
National Day September 2
Religions none (80%), Buddhist (9.3%), others
Latitude/Longitude (Capital City)
21� 01′ N, 105� 52′ E
Relative Location Vietnam is in both the eastern and northern hemispheres. It’s positioned in Southeast Asia, a recognized geographical region of the Asian continent. The country is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Tonkin, Gulf of Thailand, South China Sea, and the countries of China, Laos and Cambodia.
Coastline 2,140 miles (3,444 km)
(land) 125,622 sq miles (325,360 sq km)
(water) 1,621 sq miles (4,200 sq km)
(TOTAL) 127,243 sq miles (329,560 sq km)
Landforms Vietnam is a country of tropical lowlands, rolling green hills, and densely forested mountains. Low-level land covers about 20% of the country.
The Red River delta is fronted by hills that rise gently into the high mountains of the northwest; the Annam Highlands cover much of the central landscape, and in the southern areas, the coastal lowlands and Mekong River Delta merge.
A fertile and narrow coastal lowland extends south from the Red River Delta to the Mekong Delta.
The Mekong Delta is a low-level plain, one inundated by hundreds of small rivers and canals. Thick jungles and mangrove swamps cover the far-southern areas of land.
The Red River (Song Hong), and the Mekong are the most significant rivers; both have numerous tributaries, and the latter is certainly among the great rivers of the world.
Highest Point Fan Si Pan – 10,315 ft. (3,144 m)
Lowest Point South China Sea – (0 ft.) (0 m)
Land Divisions 59 provinces and 5 municipalities; provinces include: 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, Cao Bang, Dac Lak, Dac Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Hai Duong, Ha Nam, Ha Tay, Ha Tinh, Hau Giang, Hoa Binh, 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 and Yen Bai; municipalities include: Can Tho, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh