Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam near the border with China and 170 km east of Hanoi. The bay, which is a World Heritage site, has 1,969 monolithic limestone islands rising from the water many topped with vegetation.
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Introduction

Background

Ancient Vietnam was centered on the Red River Valley and was under Han Chinese rule until approximately the 10th century. The Ly Dynasty (11th-13th century) ruled the first independent Vietnamese state, which was known as Dai Viet, and established their capital at Thang Long (Hanoi). Under the Tran Dynasty (13th-15th century), Dai Viet forces led by one of Vietnam’s national heroes, TRAN Hang Dao, fought off Mongol invaders in 1279. Following a brief Chinese occupation in the early 1400s, the leader of Vietnamese resistance, LE Thai To, made himself emperor and established the Le Dynasty, which lasted until the late 18th century, although not without decades of political turmoil, civil war, and division. During this period, Dai Viet expanded southward to the Central Highlands and Mekong Delta, reaching the approximate boundaries of modern-day Vietnam by the 1750s. Dai Viet suffered additional civil war and division in the latter half of the 18th century, but was reunited and renamed Vietnam under Emperor NGUYEN Phuc Anh (aka Gia Long) in 1802.

The Nguyen Dynasty would be the last Vietnamese dynasty before the conquest by France, which began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. Vietnam became part of French Indochina in 1887. It declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by communist forces under Ho Chi MINH. Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the communist North and anti-communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under communist rule. Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of its diplomatic isolation, its conservative leadership policies, and the persecution and mass exodus of individuals, many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants. However, since the enactment of Vietnam's "doi moi" (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. Since implementation, the economy has seen strong growth, particularly in agricultural and industrial production, construction, exports, and foreign investment. Increased tourism has also become a key component of economic growth. Nevertheless, the Communist Party maintains tight political and social control of the country and Vietnam faces considerable challenges including rising income inequality, corruption, inadequate social welfare, and a poor human rights record.

Since withdrawing its military occupation forces from Cambodia in the late 1980s and the end of Soviet aid by 1991, Vietnam has practiced a non-aligned foreign policy that emphasizes friendly ties with all members of the international community. Relatedly, Vietnam adheres to a security doctrine called the "Four Nos" (no alliances, no siding with one country against another, no foreign bases, and no using force in international relations). Despite longstanding tensions with Beijing regarding its expansive claims that overlap with Hanoi's own claimed maritime boundaries in the South China Sea, Vietnam puts a priority on stable relations with China, given its proximity, size, and status as Vietnam's largest trading partner.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia

Geographic coordinates

16 10 N, 107 50 E

Map references

Southeast Asia

Area

total: 331,210 sq km

land: 310,070 sq km

water: 21,140 sq km

country comparison to the world: 67

Area - comparative

about three times the size of Tennessee; slightly larger than New Mexico

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 4,616 km

border countries (3): Cambodia 1,158 km; China 1,297 km; Laos 2,161 km

Coastline

3,444 km (excludes islands)

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate

tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)

Terrain

low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest

Elevation

highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m

lowest point: South China Sea 0 m

mean elevation: 398 m

Natural resources

antimony, phosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 34.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 20.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 12.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 2.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 45% (2018 est.)

other: 20.2% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

46,000 sq km (2012)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Mekong river mouth (shared with China [s], Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia) - 4,350 km; Pearl river source (shared with China [m]) - 2,200 km; Red river mouth (shared with China [s]) - 1,149 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Pacific Ocean drainage: Mekong (805,604 sq km)

Population distribution

though it has one of the highest population densities in the world, the population is not evenly dispersed; clustering is heaviest along the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin, with the Mekong Delta (in the south) and the Red River Valley (in the north) having the largest concentrations of people

Natural hazards

occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta

Geography - note

note 1: extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point

note 2: Son Doong in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is the world's largest cave (greatest cross sectional area) and is the largest known cave passage in the world by volume; it currently measures a total of 38.5 million cu m (about 1.35 billion cu ft); it connects to Thung cave (but not yet officially); when recognized, it will add an additional 1.6 million cu m in volume; Son Doong is so massive that it contains its own jungle, underground river, and localized weather system; clouds form inside the cave and spew out from its exits and two dolines (openings (sinkhole skylights) created by collapsed ceilings that allow sunlight to stream in)

Map description

Vietnam map showing major cities as well as parts of surrounding countries and adjacent water bodies.

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)

adjective: Vietnamese

Ethnic groups

Kinh (Viet) 85.3%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.9%, Muong 1.5%, Khmer 1.4%, Mong 1.4%, Nung 1.1%, other 5.5% (2019 est.)

note: 54 ethnic groups are recognized by the Vietnamese Government

Languages

Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

major-language sample(s):
Dữ kiện thế giới, là nguồn thông tin cơ bản không thể thiếu. (Vietnamese)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Vietnamese audio sample:

Religions

Catholic 6.1%, Buddhist 5.8%, Protestant 1%, other 0.8%, none 86.3% (2019 est.)

note: most Vietnamese are culturally Buddhist

Demographic profile

When Vietnam was reunified in 1975, the country had a youthful age structure and a high fertility rate.  The population growth rate slowed dramatically during the next 25 years, as fertility declined and infant mortality and life expectancy improved.  The country’s adoption of a one-or-two-child policy in 1988 led to increased rates of contraception and abortion.  The total fertility rate dropped rapidly from nearly 5 in 1979 to 2.1 or replacement level in 1990, and at 1.8 is below replacement level today.  Fertility is higher in the more rural central highlands and northern uplands, which are inhabited primarily by poorer ethnic minorities, and is lower among the majority Kinh, ethnic Chinese, and a few other ethnic groups, particularly in urban centers.  With more than two-thirds of the population of working age (15-64), Vietnam has the potential to reap a demographic dividend for approximately three decades (between 2010 and 2040).  However, its ability to do so will depend on improving the quality of education and training for its workforce and creating jobs.  The Vietnamese Government is also considering changes to the country’s population policy because if the country’s fertility rate remains below replacement level, it could lead to a worker shortage in the future.

Vietnam has experienced both internal migration and net emigration, both for humanitarian and economic reasons, for the last several decades.  Internal migration – rural-rural and rural-urban, temporary and permanent – continues to be a means of coping with Vietnam’s extreme weather and flooding.  Although Vietnam’s population is still mainly rural, increasing numbers of young men and women have been drawn to the country’s urban centers where they are more likely to find steady jobs and higher pay in the growing industrial and service sectors.

The aftermath of the Vietnam War in 1975 resulted in an outpouring of approximately 1.6 million Vietnamese refugees over the next two decades.  Between 1975 and 1997, programs such as the Orderly Departure Program and the Comprehensive Plan of Action resettled hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees abroad, including the United States (880,000), China (260,000, mainly ethnic Chinese Hoa), Canada (160,000), Australia (155,000), and European countries (150,000). 

In the 1980s, some Vietnamese students and workers began to migrate to allied communist countries, including the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and East Germany.  The vast majority returned home following the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s.  Since that time, Vietnamese labor migrants instead started to pursue opportunities in Asia and the Middle East.  They often perform low-skilled jobs under harsh conditions for low pay and are vulnerable to forced labor, including debt bondage to the private brokers who arrange the work contracts.  Despite Vietnam’s current labor surplus, the country has in recent years attracted some foreign workers, mainly from China and other Asian countries.

Age structure

0-14 years: 22.61% (male 11,733,704/female 10,590,078)

15-24 years: 15.22% (male 7,825,859/female 7,202,716)

25-54 years: 45.7% (male 22,852,429/female 22,262,566)

55-64 years: 9.55% (male 4,412,111/female 5,016,880)

65 years and over: 6.91% (2020 est.) (male 2,702,963/female 4,121,969)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 45.1

youth dependency ratio: 33.6

elderly dependency ratio: 11.4

potential support ratio: 8.8 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 31.9 years

male: 30.8 years

female: 33 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 112

Birth rate

15.69 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

Death rate

5.77 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 170

Net migration rate

-0.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 114

Population distribution

though it has one of the highest population densities in the world, the population is not evenly dispersed; clustering is heaviest along the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin, with the Mekong Delta (in the south) and the Red River Valley (in the north) having the largest concentrations of people

Urbanization

urban population: 38.8% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 2.7% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

9.077 million Ho Chi Minh City, 5.067 million HANOI (capital), 1.786 million Can Tho, 1.382 million Hai Phong, 1.188 million Da Nang, 1.078 million Bien Hoa (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.11 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.12 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

43 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 100

Infant mortality rate

total: 14.75 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 15.09 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 14.38 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 103

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.52 years

male: 72.95 years

female: 78.37 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.2% of population

rural: 95.5% of population

total: 96.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.8% of population

rural: 4.5% of population

total: 3.1% of population (2020 est.)

Physicians density

0.83 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

3.2 beds/1,000 population (2013)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 98.7% of population

rural: 90% of population

total: 93.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.3% of population

rural: 10% of population

total: 6.7% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 3.41 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 3.18 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.21 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

Tobacco use

total: 24.8% (2020 est.)

male: 47.4% (2020 est.)

female: 2.2% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 51

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 95.8%

male: 97%

female: 94.6% (2019)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 7.6%

male: 6.6%

female: 8.9% (2020 est.)

Environment

Environment - current issues

logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices contribute to deforestation and soil degradation; water pollution and overfishing threaten marine life populations; groundwater contamination limits potable water supply; air pollution; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 29.66 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 192.67 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 110.4 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

tropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)

Land use

agricultural land: 34.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 20.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 12.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 2.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 45% (2018 est.)

other: 20.2% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 38.8% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 2.7% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.35% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 16

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 9,570,300 tons (2011 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 2,201,169 tons (2014 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 23% (2014 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Mekong river mouth (shared with China [s], Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia) - 4,350 km; Pearl river source (shared with China [m]) - 2,200 km; Red river mouth (shared with China [s]) - 1,149 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Pacific Ocean drainage: Mekong (805,604 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 1.206 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 3.074 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 77.75 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

884.12 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Socialist Republic of Vietnam

conventional short form: Vietnam

local long form: Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam

local short form: Viet Nam

former: Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam)

abbreviation: SRV

etymology: "Viet nam" translates as "Viet south," where "Viet" is an ethnic self identification dating to a second century B.C. kingdom and "nam" refers to its location in relation to other Viet kingdoms

Government type

communist state

Capital

name: Hanoi (Ha Noi)

geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 E

time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the city has had many names in its history going back to A.D. 1010 when it first became the capital of imperial Vietnam; in 1831, it received its current name of Ha Noi, meaning "between the rivers," which refers to its geographic location

Administrative divisions

58 provinces (tinh, singular and plural) and 5 municipalities (thanh pho, singular and plural)

provinces: 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, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Ha Nam, Ha Tinh, Hai Duong, 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, Yen Bai

municipalities: Can Tho, Da Nang, Ha Noi (Hanoi), Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Independence

2 September 1945 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day (National Day), 2 September (1945)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest adopted 28 November 2013, effective 1 January 2014

amendments: proposed by the president, by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee, or by at least two thirds of the National Assembly membership; a decision to draft an amendment requires approval by at least a two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership, followed by the formation of a constitutional drafting committee to write a draft and collect citizens’ opinions; passage requires at least two-thirds majority of the Assembly membership; the Assembly can opt to conduct a referendum

Legal system

civil law system; note - the civil code of 2005 reflects a European-style civil law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Vietnam

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Nguyen Xuan PHUC (since 26 July 2021)

head of government: Prime Minister Pham Minh CHINH (since 26 July 2021)

cabinet: Cabinet proposed by prime minister confirmed by the National Assembly and appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by National Assembly from among its members for a single 5-year term; prime minister recommended by the president and confirmed by National Assembly; deputy prime ministers confirmed by the National Assembly and appointed by the president

election results: 2021: Nguyen Xuan PHUC (CPV) elected president; Pham Minh CHINH (CPV) confirmed as prime minister

2018: NGUYEN Phu TRONG (CPV) elected as president

2016: NGUYEN Xuan PHUC (CPV) confirmed as prime minister

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Quoc Hoi  (500 seats - number following 2021 election - 499; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 23 May 2021 (next to be held in spring 2026)

election results: percent of vote in 2016 election by party -CPV 95.8%, non-party members 4.2%; seats by party - CPV 474, non-party CPV-approved 20, self-nominated 2; note - 494 candidates elected, 2 CPV candidates-elect were disqualified; composition - men 364, women 122, percent of women 26.6%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme People's Court (consists of the chief justice and 13 judges)

judge selection and term of office: chief justice elected by the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the president for a 5-year, renewable term; deputy chief justice appointed by the president from among the judges for a 5-year term; judges appointed by the president and confirmed by the National Assembly for 5-year terms

subordinate courts: High Courts (administrative, civil, criminal, economic, labor, family, juvenile); provincial courts; district courts; Military Court; note - the National Assembly Standing Committee can establish special tribunals upon the recommendation of the chief justice

Political parties and leaders

Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV [CPV General Secretary Nguyen Phu TRONG]

note: other parties proscribed

International organization participation

ADB, APEC, ARF, ASEAN, CICA, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Nguyen Quoc DUNG (since 19 April 2022)

chancery: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 861-0737

FAX: [1] (202) 861-0917

email address and website:
vanphong@vietnamembassy.us

http://vietnamembassy-usa.org/

consulate(s) general: Houston, San Francisco

consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Marc KNAPPER (since 11 February 2022)

embassy: 7 Lang Ha Street, Hanoi

mailing address: 4550 Hanoi Place, Washington, DC 20521-4550

telephone: [84] (24) 3850-5000

FAX: [84] (24) 3850-5010

email address and website:
ACShanoi@state.gov

https://vn.usembassy.gov/

consulate(s) general: Ho Chi Minh City

Flag description

red field with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center; red symbolizes revolution and blood, the five-pointed star represents the five elements of the populace - peasants, workers, intellectuals, traders, and soldiers - that unite to build socialism

National symbol(s)

yellow, five-pointed star on red field; lotus blossom; national colors: red, yellow

National anthem

name: "Tien quan ca" (The Song of the Marching Troops)

lyrics/music: Nguyen Van CAO

note: adopted as the national anthem of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945; it became the national anthem of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976; although it consists of two verses, only the first is used as the official anthem

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 8 (5 cultural, 2 natural, 1 mixed)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Complex of Hué Monuments (c); Ha Long Bay (n); Hoi An Ancient Town (c); My Son Sanctuary (c); Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park (n); Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi (c); Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (c); Trang An Landscape Complex (m)

Economy

Economic overview

Vietnam is a densely populated developing country that has been transitioning since 1986 from the rigidities of a centrally planned, highly agrarian economy to a more industrial and market based economy, and it has raised incomes substantially. Vietnam exceeded its 2017 GDP growth target of 6.7% with growth of 6.8%, primarily due to unexpected increases in domestic demand, and strong manufacturing exports.

 

Vietnam has a young population, stable political system, commitment to sustainable growth, relatively low inflation, stable currency, strong FDI inflows, and strong manufacturing sector. In addition, the country is committed to continuing its global economic integration. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007 and concluded several free trade agreements in 2015-16, including the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (which the EU has not yet ratified), the Korean Free Trade Agreement, and the Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement. In 2017, Vietnam successfully chaired the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference with its key priorities including inclusive growth, innovation, strengthening small and medium enterprises, food security, and climate change. Seeking to diversify its opportunities, Vietnam also signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Transpacific Partnership in 2018 and continued to pursue the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

 

To continue its trajectory of strong economic growth, the government acknowledges the need to spark a ‘second wave’ of reforms, including reforming state-owned-enterprises, reducing red tape, increasing business sector transparency, reducing the level of non-performing loans in the banking sector, and increasing financial sector transparency. Vietnam’s public debt to GDP ratio is nearing the government mandated ceiling of 65%.

 

In 2016, Vietnam cancelled its civilian nuclear energy development program, citing public concerns about safety and the high cost of the program; it faces growing pressure on energy infrastructure. Overall, the country’s infrastructure fails to meet the needs of an expanding middle class. Vietnam has demonstrated a commitment to sustainable growth over the last several years, but despite the recent speed-up in economic growth the government remains cautious about the risk of external shocks.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$798.21 billion (2020 est.)

$775.67 billion (2019 est.)

$724.81 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 30

Real GDP growth rate

6.8% (2017 est.)

7.16% (2017 est.)

6.2% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

Real GDP per capita

$8,200 (2020 est.)

$8,000 (2019 est.)

$7,600 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 149

GDP (official exchange rate)

$259.957 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.7% (2019 est.)

3.5% (2018 est.)

3.5% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 137

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BB (2018)

Moody's rating: Ba3 (2018)

Standard & Poors rating: BB (2019)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 15.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 33.3% (2017 est.)

services: 51.3% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 66.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 6.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 24.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 2.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 100% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -101% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, vegetables, sugar cane, cassava, maize, pork, fruit, bananas, coffee, coconuts

Industries

food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, mobile phones

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 40.3%

industry: 25.7%

services: 34% (2017)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 7.6%

male: 6.6%

female: 8.9% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 158

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.7%

highest 10%: 26.8% (2014)

Budget

revenues: 54.59 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 69.37 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

58.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

59.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: official data; data cover general government debt and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions

country comparison to the world: 76

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$12.478 billion (2019 est.)

$5.769 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 22

Exports

$280.83 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$258.49 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$204.169 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 24

Exports - partners

United States 23%, China 14%, Japan 8%, South Korea 7% (2019)

Exports - commodities

broadcasting equipment, telephones, integrated circuits, footwear, furniture (2019)

Imports

$261.68 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$245.63 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$217.684 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 22

Imports - partners

China 35%, South Korea 18%, Japan 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

integrated circuits, telephones, refined petroleum, textiles, semiconductors (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$49.5 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$36.91 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

Debt - external

$96.58 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$84.34 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 58

Exchange rates

dong (VND) per US dollar -

23,129 (2020 est.)

23,171.5 (2019 est.)

23,312.5 (2018 est.)

21,909 (2014 est.)

21,189 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2019)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 65.283 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 199,846,440,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 2.067 billion kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 3.316 billion kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 15.479 billion kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 70.7% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 2.4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0.4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 25.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 1.4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 47.789 million metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 80.568 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 902,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 55 million metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 3.36 billion metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 197,700 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 495,500 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 66,900 barrels/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 103,500 barrels/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 4.4 billion barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 8,438,095,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 8,438,095,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 699.425 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

249.929 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 165.775 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 67.775 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 16.379 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 27

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 3,205,775 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 136.23 million (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 141.23 (2019)

country comparison to the world: 12

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: even with Covid-19 pandemic-related mobility restrictions in place, Vietnam’s economy has continued to outperform the rest of the region in 2020 and 2021; the telecom sector essentially spent most of this period in a holding pattern, focusing on maintaining service throughout the crisis while preparing for some major changes to come in the mobile market in 2022; both fixed-line telephony and mobile have experienced small drops in subscriber numbers since the start of the pandemic, but the similarities between the two markets end there; fixed-line teledensity continued its downwards trajectory towards virtual oblivion, with just 3% penetration (around 3 million subscribers) at the start of 2021; the mobile market has lost about the same number of subscribers since the end of 2019, but has been sitting on much higher penetration levels around 130% for many years; growth is expected to kick in again in 2022 following the anticipated launch of commercial 5G mobile services along with a range of government-led schemes to move consumers completely off 2G and 3G; one example is the planned redistribution of GSM/3G bandwidth to LTE; in addition to propelling Vietnam into having one of the most advanced mobile markets in the world, this should also spur on the mobile broadband segment; with a penetration level of just over 70%, mobile broadband has considerable room to grow; increasing economic prosperity coupled with the latest smartphone technology and networks should see mobile broadband underwriting the country’s telecommunications sector for at least the next few years; this report includes the regulator's market data to July 2021, telcos' financial and operating data updates to June 2021, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, and other recent market developments. (2021)

domestic: all provincial exchanges are digitalized and connected to Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City by fiber-optic cable or microwave radio relay networks; main lines have been increased, and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly; fixed-line under 4 per 100 and mobile-cellular nearly 143 per 100 (2020)

international: country code - 84; landing points for the SeaMeWe-3, APG, SJC2, AAE-1, AAG and the TGN-IA submarine cable system providing connectivity to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) (2020)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress towards 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

government controls all broadcast media exercising oversight through the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC); government-controlled national TV provider, Vietnam Television (VTV), operates a network of several channels with regional broadcasting centers; programming is relayed nationwide via a network of provincial and municipal TV stations; law limits access to satellite TV but many households are able to access foreign programming via home satellite equipment; government-controlled Voice of Vietnam, the national radio broadcaster, broadcasts on several channels and is repeated on AM, FM, and shortwave stations throughout Vietnam (2018)

Internet users

total: 68,137,008 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 70% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 13

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 16,699,249 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 5 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 224

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 47,049,671 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 481.37 million (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 38

over 3,047 m: 10

2,438 to 3,047 m: 6

1,524 to 2,437 m: 13

914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 7

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 3 (2021)

Heliports

1 (2021)

Pipelines

72 km condensate, 398 km condensate/gas, 955 km gas, 128 km oil, 33 km oil/gas/water, 206 km refined products, 13 km water (2013)

Railways

total: 2,600 km (2014)

standard gauge: 178 km (2014) 1.435-m gauge; 253 km mixed gauge

narrow gauge: 2,169 km (2014) 1.000-m gauge

country comparison to the world: 66

Roadways

total: 195,468 km (2013)

paved: 148,338 km (2013)

unpaved: 47,130 km (2013)

country comparison to the world: 28

Waterways

47,130 km (2011) (30,831 km weight under 50 tons)

country comparison to the world: 3

Merchant marine

total: 1,926

by type: bulk carrier 116, container ship 41, general cargo 1,193, oil tanker 125, other 451 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 12

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Cam Pha Port, Da Nang, Haiphong, Phu My, Quy Nhon

container port(s) (TEUs): Saigon (7,220,377), Cai Mep (3,742,384), Haiphong (5,133,150) (2019)

river port(s): Ho Chi Minh (Mekong)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN; aka Vietnam People's Army, VPA): Ground Forces, Navy (includes naval infantry), Air Force and Air Defense, Border Defense Force, and Vietnam Coast Guard; Vietnam People's Public Security Ministry; Vietnam Civil Defense Force (2022)

note 1: the Public Security Ministry is responsible for internal security and controls the national police, a special national security investigative agency, and other internal security units, including specialized riot police regiments

note 2: the Vietnam Coast Guard was established in 1998 as the Vietnam Marine Police and renamed in 2013; Vietnam officially established a maritime self-defense force (civilian militia) in 2010 after the National Assembly passed the Law on Militia and Self-Defense Forces in 2009; the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance (VFRS), established in 2013, is responsible for patrolling, monitoring for fishing violations, and carrying out fishery inspections; it is armed, allowed to use force if necessary, and works in tandem with the Vietnam Coast Guard

Military expenditures

2.4% of GDP (2021 est.)

2.4% of GDP (2020 est.)

2.3% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $11.2 billion)

2.3% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $10.5 billion)

2.3% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $9.85 billion)

country comparison to the world: 45

Military and security service personnel strengths

information is limited and varied; estimated 470,000 active duty troops (400,000 ground; 40,000 naval; 30,000 air); estimated 40,000 Border Defense Force and Coast Guard (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the PAVN is armed largely with weapons and equipment from Russia and the former Soviet Union; since 2010, Russia has remained the main supplier of newer PAVN military equipment, although in recent years Vietnam has purchased arms from more than a dozen other countries including Belarus, Israel, South Korea, Ukraine, and the US; Vietnam has a limited defense industry (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service for men and women (in practice only men are drafted); conscription typically takes place twice annually and service obligation is 2 years (Army, Air Defense) and 3 years (Navy and Air Force) (2021)

Military - note

the PAVN is the military arm of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and responsible to the Central Military Commission (CMC), the highest party organ on military policy; the CMC is led by the CPV General Secretary

Vietnam has a security policy of non-alignment, but noted in 2019 that it would consider developing appropriate defense and security relations with other countries depending on circumstances (2022)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; the number of reported incidents decreased from four in 2020 to one in 2021

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Vietnam-Cambodia: Cambodia accuses Vietnam of a wide variety of illicit cross-border activities; issues include casinos built in Cambodia near the border, narcotics trafficking, trafficking of women and children, petrol smuggling, illegal logging, and illegal migration; progress on a joint development area with Cambodia is hampered by an unresolved dispute over sovereignty of offshore islands; in December 2021, leaders from the two countries agreed to fully complete the remaining border demarcation and the upgrading of border checkpoints

Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos: Cambodia and Laos protest Vietnamese squatters and armed encroachments along border; Cambodia accuses Vietnam of a wide variety of illicit cross-border activities

Vietnam-China: an estimated 300,000 Vietnamese refugees reside in China; the decade-long demarcation of the China-Vietnam land boundary was completed in 2009; small territorial exchanges were made during the demarcation; China occupies the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; cross border trafficking in women and children and illegal wildlife trade are problems along this border; In December 2021, China tightened its border controls over COVID concerns, restricting an important trade route for Vietnam

Vietnam-Laos: Laos opened a strategically important international border crossing with Vietnam in 2021, which will shorten the distance for goods and people transiting between Thailand and Vietnam

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 30,581 (mid-year 2021); note - Vietnam's stateless ethnic Chinese Cambodian population dates to the 1970s when thousands of Cambodians fled to Vietnam to escape the Khmer Rouge and were no longer recognized as Cambodian citizens; Vietnamese women who gave up their citizenship to marry foreign men have found themselves stateless after divorcing and returning home to Vietnam; the government addressed this problem in 2009, and Vietnamese women are beginning to reclaim their citizenship

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Vietnam, and traffickers exploit Vietnamese abroad; Vietnamese men and women who migrate abroad for work may be subject to exploitation and illegally high fees from recruiters trapping them in debt bondage; traffickers subject victims to forced labor in construction, fishing, agriculture, mining, maritime industries, logging, and manufacturing, primarily in Taiwan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Laos, Japan, and to a lesser extent, some parts of Europe and the UK; traffickers mislead Vietnamese women and children with fraudulent employment opportunities and sex traffick them to brothels on the borders of China, Cambodia, Laos, and elsewhere in Asia; traffickers use the Internet, gaming sites, and particularly social media to lure victims; domestic traffickers are sometimes  family members or small-scale networks exploiting Vietnamese men, women, and children - including street children and children with disabilities - in forced labor as street beggars or in brick kilns and mines; child sex tourists from elsewhere in Asia and other countries exploit children; prisoners reportedly are forced to work in agriculture, manufacturing, and hazardous industries, such as cashew processing

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Vietnam does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; efforts include providing trafficking victims the right to legal representation in judicial proceedings, increasing the amount of shelter time for victims by one month, providing financial support, continuing large-scale awareness campaigns in vulnerable communities and to workers going overseas, and training law enforcement; however, fewer victims were identified or assisted and procedures remained slow and ineffective; provincial officials unfamiliar with anti-trafficking law impede anti-trafficking efforts; labor recruitment firms extorted illegal high fees from workers looking for overseas employment putting them at risk for forced labor; no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials complicit in trafficking offenses were made (2020)

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) trafficking heroin, crystal methamphetamine, and ketamine throughout East Asia and the Pacific; approximately 90% of the illicit drugs in the country originate in Laos, Burma, and Thailand