Despite Vietnam's ongoing economic liberalization and the pressures of rapid development, Vietnamese people have managed to preserve their rich civilization and highly cultured society. Most visitors to Vietnam are overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of the country's natural setting: the Red River Delta in the North, the Mekong Delta in the South and almost the entire coastal strip are a patchwork of brilliant green rice paddies tended by women in conical hats. There are lots of divine beaches along the coast too, while inland there are soaring mountains, most of which are covered by dense, misty forests.

The country has discarded its post-war fatigues and the boom in budget traveling, coupled with the softening of government control, have enabled more contemporary and relevant portraits of the country to gain currency in the West. Vietnam offers an opportunity to see a country of traditional charm and rare beauty rapidly opening up to the outside world.


Full country name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Area: 329,566 sq km (128,527 sq miles).
Population: 83 million.
Capital city:
Hanoi (pop 3.5 million).
Vietnam Flag

Population: 84% ethnic Vietnamese, 2% ethnic Chinese, also Khmers, Chams (a remnant of the once-great Indianized Champa Kingdom) and members of over 50 ethno linguistic groups (also known as Montagnards, 'highlanders' in French).
Language: Vietnamese, Russian, French, Chinese, English and a variety of Khmer and Laotian dialects.
Religion: Buddhism is the principal religion but there are also sizeable Taoist, Confucian, Hoa Hao, Caodaists, Muslim and Christian minorities.
Government: Social Republic.
President: Nguyen Minh Triet
Prime Minister: Nguyen Tan Dzung

GDP: US$24 billion.
GDP per capita: US$300.
Annual growth: 8%.
Inflation: 8%.
Major products/industries: Rice, rubber, food processing, sugar, textiles, chemicals.
Major trading partners: China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan.