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
Full country name:
Area: 329,566 sq km (128,527 sq miles).
Population: 83 million.
Hanoi (pop 3.5 million).
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
Government: Social Republic.
President: Nguyen Minh Triet
Prime Minister: Nguyen Tan Dzung
GDP per capita: US$300.
Annual growth: 8%.
Major products/industries: Rice, rubber, food processing,
sugar, textiles, chemicals.
Major trading partners: China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan,