A state in Southeast Asia, in Indochina, bordering China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west ; it is limited to the East and S by the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
- Physical characteristics
Extending over 2000 km from China to the Ca Mau peninsula, Vietnam is characterized by two river deltas: to the North that of the Red River (Song Hong), in the Tonkin region, surrounded by reliefs, to the South that of the Mekong (Cuu Long), part of Cochinchina; and from a mountainous coastal strip, the Annam, which extends into the Central Highlands. Maximum elevation, between the Red River and the Black River (Song Da), the 3142 m of the Fan Si Pan, while the Annamite Cordillera, in the center of the town, often exceeds 2000 m. Numerous and narrow plains are formed at the river mouths along the coast, bringing about a quarter of the total surface below 200 m asl Main hydrographic emergencies are the Red River system, which conditions the entire northern plain with its frequent floods (also for the hanging river beds due to the contribution of debris) and the network Mekong delta, which instead has a dense network of canals and vast swampy areas. ● The extension in latitude, the mountainousness, the different exposure to winds determine the climatic complexity of the country, although it has in common abundant and concentrated rainfall in the summer period, high temperatures and moderate excursions: in Tonkin winters drop below 5 ° C even in the plains (while the snow is not unknown above 1500 m), the rains do not exceed 1500 mm per year and the seasons are well marked; in the central-southern coastal region temperatures are constant (between 25 ° and 30 ° C), 4000 mm of rain are reached and typhoons characterize the summer months.
86.2% of the population is Viet (Kinh), descendant of civilizations developed in today’s Tonkin in prehistoric times, ascribed to the Mon-Khmer language family, and later strongly influenced by China, of which they assimilated at different language levels, religion, culture and customs, to expand throughout the Vietnam by the end of the 18th century. The Kinh based the economy on flooded rice cultivation, trade and manufacturing, concentrating on lowland areas. Many of the other 53 officially recognized minorities inhabit marginal areas to which they were reduced (Nam Dao, Cham), or where they found unoccupied territories (Tay, the largest group with 1.9%, Hmong, Thai). The situation of the Hoa (Chinese) is different, once part of the bourgeois class throughout the country and today reduced to 1.1% of the population (8% in Ho Chi Minh) after the war between Vietnam and China in 1979; and the Khmer (Cambodian), compact along the border with Cambodia and in the Mekong delta (1.4% of the total). The other minorities often suffer from conditions and opportunities considerably worse than those of the Kinh, despite the policy of Vietnam is careful to respect and protect their prerogatives. ● The demographic structure of the country has undergone profound upheavals in the period of the wars with France, the USA and China: over 4 million dead, 3 million injured and disabled and nearly 1.5 million refugees abroad are estimated. After reunification, 4 million people were relocated from cities to abandoned or newly colonized areas, starting a policy against urbanization, still followed by the government today (28% of urban population in 2008). Vietnam has large rural areas with densities over 1000 residents / km2 and a very dense network of settlements. The main urban centers are the capital Hanoi (6.2 million residents) and Haiphong in the N, Hue, Da Nang and Nha Trang in the center, Ho Chi Minh (7.5 million, first city of the Vietnam), Can Tho and Bien Hoa a S. The natural increase of the population was controlled by the government, up to 1.1% in 2009, with a birth rate of 17.7 ‰ and a death rate of 5.8 ‰. ● The official language is Vietnamese, with notable regional differences. Prevailing religion is Chinese syncretism (Buddhism-Taoism-Confucianism) integrated with the cult of the ancestors; Catholic minority (10%).
- Economic conditions
Having emerged from the wars with a devastated and uneven economy (rice growing and heavy industry to the North, plantations and trade to the S), Vietnam attempted collectivization, soon abandoned, and from 1986 started the doi moi(“Renewal”): liberalization of the economy, foreign investment and integration into the global economy towards a socialist market economy. The per capita income is constantly increasing (2900 dollars in 2009), with a GDP equal to 92 billion dollars, thanks to sustained growth (7.5% in 2000-08) and resistance to international crises. ● The primary sector still employs 51.8% of the active population, for 20.7% of GDP (2009). First production was rice (35 million tons in 2007), of which Vietnam is the second world exporter; followed by coffee, tea, rubber, cashews and pepper among exports, maize, tubers (potato, cassava, sweet potato), vegetables; fruit. Forests benefited from restoration interventions and the blocking of timber exports (1992): today they cover 30% of the territory. The breeding is very developed (in particular of pigs and chickens), but on a family scale. Aquaculture has seen explosive growth in the new century, placing the country at the top of the world; inland and sea fishing, with over 4 million tonnes of fish caught in 2007, remain at the service of the local market. ● The industry, started in the 1950s by the government in the metallurgical and mechanical sectors, thanks to the availability of coal (45 million tons in 2007) and metal ores, and chemicals (phosphates), has developed and differentiated in the last twenty years (construction, textiles, clothing and footwear, precision mechanics, electronics), thanks also to foreign investments (agreement with the USA in 2002, entry into the WTO in 2006), occupying 40.3% of GDP and 15.4% % of the active population (2009). ● The tertiary sector (39, 2% of GDP), dominated by family-run services (25.5% of the active population), is itself changing. The oil (13 million tons in 2007, first export of Vietnam by value: 20% of the total) is partly refined in the new plant in Quang Ngai (2009), and comes from submarine fields; together with fishing rights, it is at the center of the dispute for the possession of the archipelagos Paracelsus and Spratly with neighboring states. Important hydroelectric plants (Hoa Binh, 1,920 MW); a nuclear power plant has been under construction since 2004. ● The conformation and the population of the Vietnam congest the road network, over 220,000 km (20% asphalted), and railway (2700 km). A new motorway axis will follow an internal route, avoiding coastal settlements, while the modernization of railways and urban public transport is underway. The 6000 km of inland waterways connect to the ports (former Haiphong, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang). International airports in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang and Nha Trang serve the growing tourism (4.2 million admissions in 2007).