Country Vietnam – information and facts
Vietnam is a colorful country with lotus lakes, monkey islands, white and red dunes, many colorful waterfalls, unique bays, Buddhist temples and centuries-old pagodas, with breathtaking landscapes and yet miserable Vietnamese homes.
The Vietnamese have their own unique mentality while being influenced by other nations throughout their history. A trip to Vietnam is an unforgettable immersion in the exotic.
An intimate acquaintance with the state will take place right now, if you open our page dedicated to Vietnam, its main features and interesting facts about the country.
Vietnam: general data, meaning of the name
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam occupies an area on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Laos and Cambodia are its western border neighbors, China is its northern neighbor, and the South China Sea caresses the eastern and southern coasts of Vietnam.
The country’s territory is small: 331,210 km2. It is the 66th largest country in the world. The population of Vietnam is the 15th largest in the world: 95,600,600 people live in Vietnam.
In the 16th century, the poet Nguyen Binh Khiem first used the name “Vietnam” in his book “The Prophecies of Trang Chinh”. The word itself consists of two components: “Viet” for Viets and “Nam” for south. The emperor Zia Long used the name “Vietnam” in documents dating from 1804 to 1813, although before 1945 the country was referred to as “Annam. In 1945, Emperor Bao Dai officially changed the country’s name to Vietnam.
The official language in the country is Vietnamese. Residents speak English, Chinese, French and Russian.
Tourism in Vietnam
Over the past 20-30 years, the tourism industry has become an important part of the Vietnamese economy. The tourism sector in Vietnam tends to grow. Visitors mainly come from the United States, China and South Korea. In the last decade, Russian tourists have been actively getting to know Vietnam.
The country annually receives more than 6 million visitors from different countries. Vietnam has become a new “pilgrimage destination” in Southeast Asia for beach lovers, hikers, nature lovers and those who love to explore the culture of the state.
The coastline in the country was three thousand miles, so investors in hotel construction have room to spread. Travel agencies offer a variety of programs to get acquainted with the country and at the same time relaxing by the sea.
If in earlier years, the main part of GDP was brought by the agricultural sector, now the burden is taken by the service sector. These are hotels, transport, catering, bringing in more than a third of GDP.
Popular resorts are Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Dalat, and Phan Thiet.
Having a rich history, Vietnam attracts with the sights, both man-made and created by the nature. There is a bay on the territory of SRV which is included by UNESCO in the list of World Natural Heritage – it is Halong Bay.
Many seek out the spectacular Ponggur Waterfall near Dalat, another creation of nature. The mangrove forests of Canzo, the Mekong River delta, lotus lakes, white and red dunes are a small list of nature’s “work” in Vietnam.
The Cham culture left the Cham towers of Po Nagar and the temple complex in Michonne to the Vietnamese.
Many cultural and historical sites are located in significant and large cities of the country. They include the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, the main post office building in Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels in the outskirts of the city.
A large number of palaces and temples (one of the famous palace complexes – Thu Cam Thanh) allowed the city of Hue to be included in the UNESCO heritage list.
Water Puppet Theater, Lake of the Returned Sword, Hong La Monkey Island, Linh Phuoc Pagoda, built from shards and splinters, the Black Lady Mountain, Hang Nga Madhouse.
Intrigued? And this is not the whole list of wonders of Vietnam.
Among the modern attractions are popular: the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, statues of Buddha (lying, sitting), cableway over the sea to the island of Hon Che, where the amusement park “Winperl” was built, the Vietnamese version of Notre Dame. And museums telling the story of the leader Ho Chi Minh are populated throughout the country.
People also come here for recovery: mud baths with thermal waters Thap Ba is always welcome.
Ethnic composition of the country
According to official data, there are 54 nationalities in Vietnam. However, there are many more ethnic groups.
Figures show that the ethnic mix is 85.7% Viet, 1.9% Thai, 1.5% Myong and Khmer, 2.13% Miao Yao and 1.1% Nung.
The other nationalities are represented in smaller numbers: Chinese, Banaras, Sedangs, Hoa, Sré, Hré, Mnong, Sanziu, Santhai, Raglay, etc.
The official nationalities are linguistically grouped into 8 groups: Vietnamese, Mon-Khmer, Chinese, Tibeto-Burman, Thai, Miao-Miao, Tiam and those who speak the Cadaian languages.
The mountain peoples of Vietnam are grouped in the Highlanders or Thuong group.
Religious Preferences of the Vietnamese
There are Buddhists (only 9.3%), Catholics (6.7%), Khao Khao (about 1.5%), Protestants (0.5%), and Kaodai (1.1%) among the residents.
The rest of the population are either atheists or hold folk beliefs. They are based on the ritual of tho kung tho tien. It is a cult of ancestors. It is an unformed faith with no hierarchy of clergy. Since the adherents of the cult of ancestors perform their rituals in Buddhist temples, many people mistakenly consider about 80% of the country’s population to be Buddhists.
In the late 1980s, Vietnam was also hit by an economic crisis. Since 1986, the country began reforms aimed at the development of market relations. At the same time the benchmarks of socialism have not been removed. Not only that, the state controls private enterprise. Article 15 of the Vietnamese Constitution fixes at the state level the recognition in the country of the nationwide, collective and private property.
The reforms made Vietnam a leader among ASEAN members in 1995-1997. Thirty percent of all capital investment in the state was made by foreign companies. GDP grew by 8.9% annually.
In 1998-1999, the Asian financial crisis led to a decrease in imports into the country and an expansion of exports. Of course, investment from outside decreased as well.
Vietnam is characterized by very high property prices with low incomes. The purchasing power of the Vietnamese is low. For the most part, the Vietnamese live poor, poor and in a dirty country. At the same time, they manage to maintain an average level of security in the country, which pleases visitors. Compared to other Asian countries, the health care industry is not badly developed.
According to 2015 data, GDP per capita was already $6,400.00. The GDP growth rate is 6.10%. On average, Vietnamese earn about 7.5 million VND per month. The president’s salary in the country does not exceed the average Vietnamese salary.
The state uses the wealth of nature to develop its economy: manganese, coal, timber, oil, gas, phosphate, bauxite, chromite, hydropower. The industrial sector employs 15% of the population. Everyone has heard about Vietnamese cell phones, office equipment and computer parts, household appliances.
And yet the Vietnamese sew clothes, shoes, are engaged in agriculture and shipbuilding. About 52% of the Vietnamese population works in agriculture, which accounts for 21% of GDP. In the fields of the country we can see peppers, soybeans, cashews, bananas, peanuts and sugar cane. Rice, rubber, coffee, tea, and cotton take precedence in the country. Revenue from tea production exceeds 150 million dollars. Fishing and seafood processing are also gaining momentum.
Since tourism in Vietnam also tends to develop, the service sector requires reforms and effective steps. About 33% of the state’s population is engaged in this sphere.
Who rules the country: the state structure of Vietnam
Vietnam has a republican form of government. The Communist Party leads the country.
The unicameral National Assembly is the highest authority in the state. It consists of 498 deputies. This is the only body which adopts the Constitution and laws. The President and all the other authorities (e.g. Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuracy) report to it. Members of the National Assembly are elected for a term of five years.
The head of state in Vietnam is the President, elected by the People’s Assembly for a five-year term. International treaties are concluded on his behalf. He has the right to recall the Vice President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Prosecutor. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Vietnamese Armed Forces.
Administrative division of Vietnam
The country is divided into 58 provinces and five cities: Hanoi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho and Da Nang. The population in the provinces and cities elects people’s councils, the local authorities. They are legitimate for four years. Provinces are divided into districts (counties).
The authorities in the provinces and cities have had the right to conduct foreign trade operations since 1997.
Top 10 interesting facts about Vietnam and its people
1. Each Vietnamese eats 169 kilograms of rice a year. And this fact has become the reason for the country to take the 2nd place in the world in terms of rice consumption per capita. Burma leads the list.
2. Vietnam is the leading supplier of cashew nuts and black pepper to the world markets. The country ranks 2nd in coffee exports (after Brazil), although coffee trees were introduced into the country by the French in 1857.
3. Knowing only two Vietnamese surnames will introduce you to half of the country’s inhabitants, 40% of whom have the surname Nguyen and 11% Chan.
4. Vietnam is called a country of motorcyclists: each family has 2 or more motorcycles.
5. The Vietnamese language is almost impossible to learn by yourself. It has 6 tonal shades, i.e. if you pronounce a word in different tones, you change its meaning dramatically. For comparison, in Chinese there are only 4 tones.
6. Tea is offered free of charge in public catering establishments. Leave 5-10% of the drink in your cup.
7. Vietnam is a country of long-livers. There are many citizens whose age has passed the 100-year mark. And there are thousands of them!
8. In the country, death is seen as an escape from life’s difficulties, so funerals are fun. The graves are decorated with ceramic tiles, as in the bathroom.
9. In Vietnamese schools, students choose their own subjects, but each subject must be paid for, so students work.
10. Vietnamese are sugar lovers. They add it to almost all dishes, even meat. When ordering food, warn them to bring sugar-free dishes.
Holidays in Vietnam. All you need to know about the original country.
Bac My An, Chinese beach, Da Nang, Vietnam. Photo by sakamichi-66.
What ideas and associations you have when you think of Vietnam? Do Vietnamese slippers, which are in great demand among many people, immediately come to mind? Or good-natured and friendly people in funny triangular hats, who smile at you all the time? Even if you know a lot about this beautiful country, believe me, there are many more things that will surprise and delight you.
When you first visit Vietnam, you will be amazed at the amazing beauty that is present in many parts of the country. Huge stunning mountains looming over you, many clear lakes, richly colored grass and trees, small pleasant houses and many people walking endlessly through the streets.
One gets the feeling that in Vietnam even the color of the sky stands out for its beauty. At night there is a magical picture of the sky, dotted with a scattering of the brightest stars. In addition to the extraordinary beauty of exotic culture and genuine hospitality, the country boasts simply stunning beaches, which stretch for thousands of miles along the sea.
Until recently, many thought that to go on a trip to Vietnam – something almost impossible. Now this country is available for tourists from all over the world. Vacationers visit the country throughout the year.
Vietnam. Photo by Jan Purmple.
Da Nang, Vietnam. The author of the photo – Philip Provost.
It is believed that in Vietnam, you can always find a place that is perfect for the climate during your vacation. This is possible because the country has a long stretch from north to south. Therefore, the climatic conditions may differ from each other. If one region is humid or wet, at the same time in the other region is sunny and warm weather.
There is a significant difference between the average maximum and minimum temperatures of about 15C in the country. For this reason, the northern part of the country cannot be called tropical.
That is why the climate is considered tropical monsoon, formed by the humidity of summer and the dryness of winter monsoon. The winter period begins in October and lasts until May, all this period in the north of Nha Trang is accompanied by rains, but in the south – dry and sunny weather. The average temperature readings are about +26C in December and +29C in April.
Getting to know Vietnam
The country has a variety of proposals for vacationing tourists. The resort is designed and for fans of the most comfortable vacation with all the necessary conditions, and for travelers who prefer a more democratic style of recreation. In addition to a great beach holiday in Vietnam, there are many different interesting places, where various excursions.
A great place to experience the culture of Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, which is a striking example of national color. Local markets with constant noise and chaotic and active movement demonstrates Asia itself. In Ho Chi Minh City deserves your attention a tour of the Reunification Palace, which was built by French colonizers. In addition, it is worth visiting Notre Dame Cathedral, the tunnels called Cu Chi.
Notre Dame, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo by taigatrommelchen.
An especially inquisitive tourist will have wonderful emotions when getting acquainted with the capital city of Vietnam called Hanoi. During the planning of recreation is highly recommended to pay attention and visit this city, soaked in extraordinary color. Hanoi is more than a thousand years old, and it is a wonderful blend of traditional cultural things and French colorful style.
In the Old Quarter there are many streets intertwined in a maze, this is where you should look for the original Vietnamese exoticism. Although Hanoi is not a classic tourist destination and tourists often pass through it on their way to selected resorts, it is still worth checking out and experiencing the beauty of this culture.
Phan Thiet, located in the south of the country, is a wonderful place to stay, popular with many tourists. This city flows seamlessly into Mui Ne, another popular resort destination.
Fanyet, Vietnam. Photo by lehoangnhat bmt.
Along a long coastline are a lot of hotel complexes and small houses. Earlier Phan Thiet was a small fishing village, later it was loved by surfers.
After the advent of mass tourism this place from a simple village has become a popular beach location. Living conditions and costs vary, if necessary, you can rent a modest room in a gesthouse or choose a luxury room in a luxury hotel.
Nha Trang is considered the unofficial beach capital of Vietnam. This is a paradise for beach lovers. Stunning beaches with unforgettable beauty of scenery, looking just like the picture on the brochures, various institutions from modest cafes to fine culinary restaurants, SPA-services, and more.
Nha Trang, Vietnam. Photo by Kim Tho Vo.
This is where the most famous beaches are located, which are well protected from the wind and strong waves thanks to the islands.
Vietnam has a wide variety of prices. So you can easily find a suitable holiday hotel, based on your needs and capabilities.
Traveling in Vietnam
Traveling in Vietnam is a fascinating journey. As the transport can be used buses, trains, cars, motorcycles, bicycles. Now we will tell you in detail about the features of each means of transportation. So, for a long-distance route the bus will not be the best choice. There are speed limits on the tracks, and the journey will be very slow.
It is interesting that there are buses for overnight trips with sleeping berths, similar to those that are in the trains. The disadvantage is that the sleeping shelves are located almost close to each other, and it’s not very pleasant to sleep with a stranger.
If you do choose the bus, we advise you to choose a transport with a high level of comfort. Although the cost of such a bus is more expensive, but the trip will be noticeably more comfortable and pleasant.
The trains are modern, some have a high level of comfort, some are ordinary. The train runs exactly on schedule, the distance between the two main cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is 29 hours.
Characteristic of Vietnam transport is a motorcycle. We advise you to rent a motorcycle with a driver, because it is unlikely to enjoy riding it alone, because you are unfamiliar with a foreign country. Renting a motorcycle with a driver costs somewhere around $ 30, renting one motorcycle will cost 6-12 dollars.
For health enthusiasts can rent a bike, which will cost about 7 dong per day, in some cities there are bicycle rickshaws, where you can haggle over the price. It is also possible to use the airlines of Vietnam.
Halong Bay is one of the Seven Wonders of the World Heritage Site. This marvel is located in the Gulf of Tonkin. The bay is famous for the fact that it has 3 thousand islands of limestone with amazing grottos, bays, caves.
Halong, Vietnam. The author of photos – Teseum.
It is best to visit this place together with a guide and a group of other tourists. You can visit this place with a tour from Hanoi, you can fly from other cities in Vietnam.
Typically, the tour looks like this: you go on a two-day trip by boat. The tour includes visits to islands and caves, a village on the water. It is most convenient to visit Halong from Hanoi city. We would not recommend going to Halong alone, it is difficult and even dangerous.
Also on the UNESCO World Heritage List are the ruins of Mishon. Once the site of today’s ruins was the ancient city of the kingdom of Champa. After the Vietnam War with the United States, the monument was almost completely destroyed, and underwent several restorations. You can go to the ruins as part of an organized tour or on your own, are located near Hoi An.
Michon, Vietnam. Photo by Tim and Elise.
They say the city of Hanoi is the soul of Vietnam. Naturally, because Hanoi is its capital, and it is in Hanoi that many of Vietnam’s attractions are concentrated. How can you go to the country and not visit its capital? Highly recommended to visit:
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum,
- the Water Puppet Theater,
- Hanoi Citadel,
- the Temple of Literature,
- Women’s Museum.
And the one-pillar pagoda, the lake of the returned sword, the turtle temple, the fragrant pagoda. These places are simply mesmerizing. You can visit Hanoi on your own, allocating 2-3 days or with an organized tour from any resort in Vietnam.
Chang Quoc, Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by minhty0602.
If you are an adventurer at heart, be sure to visit the mountain town called Sapa, which is located in the north of Vietnam. Here is the highest point of the country – Mount Phansipan. This is the best place to hike to it: numerous mountain rivers, slopes, small cozy villages with rice terraces. You can visit the town with a guide and tourists or on your own.
The former imperial capital of Vietnam is the city of Hue, which is very many great places and buildings, museums, temples. The main attraction of the city is the imperial fortress. And there are imperial tombs scattered throughout the city. Through Hue passes the beautiful Huong River. You can visit this historic city as part of an organized tour, as well as alone.
Another unusual sight in Vietnam, discovered very recently, in 2009, by British scientists – the Chongdong Cave, the largest cave in the world, which is about 5 kilometers long, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide.
Songdong, Vietnam. Photo by Edward Lim.
This natural wonder located in a rugged place in the depths of the jungle. To get there on your own is almost impossible, and it can be dangerous. The Shondong Cave can only be visited with a professional expedition team.
Fruit vendor, Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by jltoto.
Vietnamese cuisine is a mixture of Chinese cuisine and French cuisine. The cuisine is known to many for its uniqueness and very sophisticated taste. It is these factors, in addition to the great variety of dishes, influenced the fact that Vietnam was ranked third among the countries that are most preferred and interesting to gourmets. The data were published by Forbes magazine.
The cuisine bears little resemblance to Japanese, Chinese or Korean. Fresh meat, lots of seafood, most vegetables and rice are only cooked for a short time, so every dish is as light and healthy as possible. Lemongrass and mint leaves, basil and several kinds of pepper add indescribable and unique flavor to Vietnamese dishes.
Spices do not burn but have a spicy flavor, besides fat is used in minimal quantities. All this makes Vietnamese cuisine popular among the real gourmets and health food connoisseurs.
Vietnamese cuisine is conventionally divided into several categories depending on the region. The cuisine of the northern part of Vietnam is considered more traditional and is distinguished by some restrictions as for ingredients and some spices.
Cuisine belonging to the southern part of the country was influenced by Chinese immigrants and French colonists, as well as their traditions regarding taste preferences. Southerners prefer dishes with a sweet taste, and they also like to add many spices and herbs. Accordingly, for this reason, dishes are characterized by notes of spice. Due to the very long coastline, Vietnamese cuisine is rich in delicious seafood.
The cuisine of Hue is most preferred. The city of Hue is the old capital of the country. The distinctive features of this cuisine are harmonious composition of dishes, exquisite and unique combination of ingredients. Exactly for the Emperor, chefs constantly tried to come up with complex and exotic dishes, unlike any other.
The most common drinks are Vietnamese coffee, distinguished by its strength and chocolate flavor, juice made from sugar cane, green tea and coconut milk. Of alcoholic beverages, rice vodka is preferred. Going to a restaurant is affordable and democratic in price and ranges from $3 to $25.
They like to eat bamboo in Vietnam, especially its young shoots which are considered extremely healthy and rather tasty, however have a peculiar smell.
The French colonists brought their imprint in the cuisine of Vietnam as fresh baguettes, various pâtés and many kinds of cheese. These are all readily available from vendors on the street. The addiction to coffee was also inherited by the Vietnamese from the French.
Many vacationers seek recovery at Vietnamese resorts. Acupuncture is actively applied in the country and has an effective effect. Treatment with herbs and thermal springs produces an effect on the overall condition of the organism.
The spa centers offer a great variety of procedures applying traditional Vietnamese medicine. There’s a center in Hanoi specializing in traditional medicine where you can undergo complex treatment of any field you require.
Stores in this country are notable for their low prices. A lot of souvenirs of exotic plan can be purchased for pennies. Foreign brands of clothing or shoes cost many times less. There are also ethnic stores where you can choose an item made by Vietnamese hill tribes. In Hanoi there are many different clothes of oriental style.
In Hue there is a whole market of traditional conical hats. Another popular Vietnamese souvenir is fruit, which is unusual and exotic. Many of them you will actually see for the first time in your life.
Fruit, Mekong, Vietnam. Photo by Emma.
The national airlines in Vietnam are a monopoly for domestic flights. Bus transport is very cheap, crossing the whole country, and has many destinations along the route. However, it is not easy to go anywhere by this mode of transport, especially during the hot season.
In Vietnam, security is considered quite high. However, there are frequent cases of pickpocketing, most often in the south of the country. In hotel rooms it is recommended to use safes for storage of valuable things.
Before a trip to the country it is desirable to get insurance in advance. Mandatory vaccinations before traveling to Vietnam is not required.
Golden Bridge, Vietnam. Photo by Igor Sorokin.