Vietnam Country Profile

Historical Information on Vietnam from April 2000 on the 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam War (when AVI was launched)

Full country name: The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
Area: 329,560 sq km
Population: 78,773,873 (July 2000 est.)
Capital city Hanoi (pop. 1.4 million)
People: Vietnamese 85%-90%, Chinese 3%, Muong, Tai, Meo, Khmer, Man, Cham
Language: Vietnamese (official), Chinese, English, French, Khmer, tribal languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Religion:  Buddhist, Taoist, Roman Catholic, indigenous beliefs, Muslim, Protestant, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao
President: President Tran Duc LUONG (since 24 September 1997). The Communist Party established the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976. All political power stems from the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), in which the Politburo is the most important body. The political hierarchy is headed by a triumvirate: the General Secretary, the President and the Prime Minister.
GNI per capita:  390 US $ (Average income per capita is around US$350 per annum)
GDP:  31.3 billion US $ (6.5 per cent in 2000)
Literacy rate:  90 percent
Currency:  Vietnamese Dong (VND). Notes are issued in denominations of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10, 000, 20, 000 and 50, 000. The Dong is a non-convertible currency


General Information & Dates

1884 – 1954: France occupied all of Vietnam by 1884. Independence was declared after World War II, but the French continued to rule until 1954 when they were defeated by communist forces under Ho Chi Minh, who took control of the north.

1954 – 1975: US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s until US armed forces began to withdraw following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later North Vietnamese took control of the south under the Communist Party.

1986: The Doi Moi or ‘open door’ process was launched

1979- 1989: Vietnam occupied Cambodia

1995: Vietnam joins the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Sources: UNDP; World Development Indicators Database; The Vietnam Development Information Centre (VDIC) and The Economist Intelligence Unit, UK Country Profile 1999/2000

For a more detailed chronology of US/Vietnam relations visit: Vietnam Yesterday and Today: