Overview Vietnam

  • Capital: Hanoi
  • Largest City: Ho Chi Minh City
  • Official Language: Vietnamese
  • Official Script: Vietnamese
  • Area: 332,698 km2 (65th)
  • Population (2014): 90,730,000 (14th)
  • HDI (2014): 0.638 (121st)
  • Currency: Dong (VND)
  • Time Zone: Indochina Time (UTC+07:00)
  • Drives on the: Right
  • Calling Code: +84
  • Internet Top-level Domain: .vn

Vietnam is a development success story. Political and economic renovation launched in 1986 have transformed Vietnam from one of the poorest countries in the world, with per capita income below $100, to a lower middle income country within a quarter of a century with per capita income of $1,960 by the end of 2013. Over the last few decades, Vietnam has also made remarkable progress in reducing poverty. The percentage of people living in poverty dropped from almost 60% in the 1990s to under 10% today. Over the same period, the mean income for the bottom 40% of the Vietnamese population increased by an annual average of 9%.

The richness of Vietnam’s origins is evident throughout its culture. Spiritual life in Vietnam is a grand panoply of belief systems, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and ancient Vietnamese animism. Festivals are typical folklore cultural activities in all regions of Viet Nam. Such festivals bring peace to the heart and mind of the Vietnamese people, wipe out their pressures from daily life, and bring them closer to nature and the motherland. As an agricultural country, most Vietnamese festivals are held during “leisure times”, which are spring and autumn. There are also national festivals for all Vietnamese people, including the Lunar New Year Holidays (Tet Nguyen Dan), July Full-Moon, August Full-Moon or Hung Kings Festival.

The most important festival of the year is Lunar New Year Holidays (Tet Nguyen Dan), a week-long event in late January or early February that heralds the new lunar year and the advent of spring. Celebration consists of both raucous festivity (fireworks, drums, gongs) and quiet meditation.

Although many westerners still imagine Vietnam through the lens of war, it is in reality a country filled with captivating natural beauty and tranquil village life. Its highlands and rainforest regions, far from being devastated, continue to yield new species and team with exotic wildlife. Its islands and beaches are among the finest in all of Southeast Asia, and its cuisine is very possibly the most delicious you will ever find.