General Information

Most visitors to Vietnam are overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of the country’s natural setting: the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and almost the entire coastal strip are a patchwork of brilliant green rice paddies tended by women in conical hats. There are some divine beaches along the coast, while inland there are soaring mountains, some of which are cloaked by dense, misty forests. Vietnam also offers an opportunity to see a country of traditional charm and rare beauty rapidly opening up to the outside world.

Introduction: VIETNAM

Lying on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is a strip of land shaped like the letter “S”. China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south.
The country’s total length from north to south is 1,650km. Its width, stretching from east to west, is 600km at the widest point in the north, 400km in the south, and 50km at the narrowest part, in the centre, in Quang Binh Province. The coastline is 3,260km long and the inland border is 4,510km.

Latitude:
102º 08' - 109º 28' east
Longitude:
8º 02' - 23º 23' north

Vietnam is also a transport junction from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Capital: Hanoi, 921,8 Sq. km, population of around 3 million
 

Climate and Weather

The climate varies greatly from north to south. The north has a cool and dry season from November to April and a hot rainy season from May to October. The central coast north of Nha Trang has a similar climate with the winter monsoon bringing cool, wet weather between December and February. The south is hot and humid all year round, especially from February to May. The rainy season lasts from May to November. The central highlands have a similar climate to the south, but it is cooler and temperatures can be freezing in winter. The official peak season in Vietnam is from September to April.

Hanoi has a humid tropical climate, characterised by monsoons, like most of northern Vietnam. Summers, between May and September, are very hot with plenty of rain, while winters, from November to March, are cold and relatively dry. During the transition months of April and October anything is possible, and spring often brings light rain. The hottest month of the year is June. January is the coolest month, usually beset with a cold north-easterly wind.

Ho Chi Minh City is in the tropics, and very close to the sea, so its climate is steadily warm to hot all year round. Temperatures are slightly cooler between December and April, which is also the dry season. Rains begin in May and become heavy from June to August, but the showers are sudden and short, with the sun usually reappearing fairly quickly. There is a danger of typhoons from July to November.

Population:

The population of Vietnam in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 81,377,000, which placed it as number 13 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 6% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 31% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 1.35%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 94,742,000. The low growth rate is due to extensive family planning programs aimed to curb overpopulation. The population density in 2002 was 240 per sq km (622 per sq mi).

It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 20% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. The capital city, Hanoi, had a population of 1,074,000 in that year. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest urban area with a population of 3,678,000. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 2.2%

Economic growth:

Vietnam is considered one of the most successful countries in the world in sustaining rapid economic growth over the last decades (average GDP growth rate for 1994-2005 period was 7.57%). The Vietnam economy is the second highest economy in Asia Pacific Area after China, with growth rates of 7.7% in 2004, 8.4% in 2005 and 8.17% in 2006. In addition, GDP growth is predicted to be within 7.5% to 8% for the 2006-2010 periods (source: Saigon Times Weekly and General Statistics Office of Vietnam).

Administration Unit:

Vietnam divided into 64 provinces & cities

Languages:

Vietnamese, Vietnam's official language, is a tonal language that can be compared to Cambodia's official language, Khmer. With each syllable, there are six different tones that can be used, which change the definition and it often makes it difficult for foreigners to pick up the language. There are other languages spoken as well such as Chinese, Khmer, Cham and other languages spoken by tribes inhabiting the mountainous regions. Although there are some similarities to Southeast Asian languages, such as Chinese, Vietnamese is thought to be a separate language group, although a member of the Austro-Asiatic language family.

In written form, Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet and accent marks to show tones. This system of writing called quoc ngu, was created by Catholic missionaries in the 17th century to translate the scriptures. Eventually this system, particularly after World War I, replaced one using Chinese characters (chu nom), which had been the unofficial written form used for centuries.

Religion:

The major religious traditions in Vietnam are Buddhism (which fuses forms of Taoism and Confusianism), Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Islam, Caodaism and the Hoa Hao sect.

Topography:

Three quarters of Vietnam's territory consists of mountains and hills. Vietnam is divided into four distinct mountainous zones.

The Northeastern Zone (Viet Bac)

This zone stretches from the Red River Valley to the Gulf of Tonkin. The mountainous area of Viet Bac is scattered with famous sights: Dong Nhat Grotto, Dong Nhi Grotto, and Tam Thanh Grotto in Lang Son Province; Pac Bo Grotto and Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang; Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan; Yen Tu Mountain and Halong Bay in Quang Ninh; and Tay Con Linh, the highest mountain peak in the region reaching 2,341 meters above sea level.

The Northwestern Zone

This zone is comprised of mountains that run from the north of the Sino-Vietnamese border to the west of Thanh Hoa Province. This magnificent mountain range is nationally known for its resort town of Sapa in Lao Cai Province, which is perched 1500 meters above sea level. Several ethnic groups, such as the H'mong, Dao, Kinh, Tay, Giay, Hoa, and Xa Pho, still reside in this region.

The northwestern zone is also famous for the historical site of Dien Bien Phu and Fansipan Mountain, which measures 3,143 meters above sea level at the peak.

The North Truong Son Zone

This zone runs from the western part of Thanh Hoa Province to the Quang Nam-Da Nang Mountains. This region is known locally for its picturesque Phong Nha Grotto and its two breathtaking passes, the Ngang Pass and the Hai Van Pass. It is also known worldwide for being the location of the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail constructed during the second great resistance war.

The South Truong Son Zone

This zone is located to the west of the south central coast provinces. Behind these huge mountains is a vast area of red soil known locally as "Tay Nguyen" (the Central Highlands). There are numerous legendary accounts of the flora and fauna and of the lives of several different ethnic minorities living in the Central Highlands. Dalat, established during the 19th century, is a popular resort town in this part of Vietnam.
 

Vietnam has two major deltas, including the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong River Delta in the south.

 

The Red River Delta, or Northern Delta

This region stretches for15,000 sq. km. Over time, deposits of alluvium carried from the Red River and Thai Binh River have accumulated to form the delta. The ancient Viet people settled at the junction of the two rivers . At that time, the wet rice civilization was established

 

The Mekong River Delta, or Southern Delta

This region is approximately 40,000 sq. km. The land is very fertile and has favorable climate conditions for agriculture. As a result, it is the largest rice growing region in Vietnam.

Vietnam is crisscrossed by thousands of streams and rivers. There is a river discharging every 20 kilometers along Vietnam's coastline. The waterways are a very convenient means of transport with major rivers like the Red River in the north and the Mekong River in the south.

 

Sea

Vietnam's coastline is 3,260km long. If you have a chance to travel along the coast of Vietnam, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Tra Co, Sam Son, Lang Co, Non Nuoc, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, and Ha Tien. In some places, you will see mountains jutting out to the sea. One such magnificent site is Halong Bay, which has recently been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Vietnam's coast has been awarded a series of large seaports, such as the ones at Haiphong, Danang, Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh, Vung Tau, and Saigon. There are thousands of islands and islets scattered offshore from north to south. Among the most popular tourist destinations are the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa Archipelagos.

 

Forest

The forests of Vietnam account for most of the total land area. National parks are preserved by the state and follow a steady development plan. Some of the more famous national parks located throughout the country include Ba Vi in Ha Tay, Cat Ba in Haiphong, Cuc Phuong in Ninh Binh, Bach Ma in Hue, and Cat Tien in Dong Nai.

 

Currency:

 

Vietnam’s currency issued by the Vietnam State Bank is the Dong (VND). Vietnamese use both coins and paper notes. But as Vietnam is currently changing its money system, there exists parallel two different money systems (old and new) which can cause confusion.

Coins include VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500 and 200. These values have paper note equivalences.

The following values: VND 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000. exist both in the new polymer form and the old normal paper notes.

Cheques with value as Vietnamese dong include: VND 1,000,000 and 500,000.

Civil Electrical Power:

 

AC 220 V, 50 Hz (bathrooms of many luxury and medium-grade hotels may have 110-volt sockets).

 

Telephone Codes:

 

Vietnam country code: 84

Vietnam city code:

Ha Noi

4

An Giang

76

Bac Can

281

Bac Giang

240

Bac Ninh

241

Ben Tre

75

Binh Oinh

56

Binh Thuan

62

Can Tho

71

Cao Bang

26

Da Nang

51

Dac Lac

50

Dong Nai

61

Dong Thap

67

Gia Lai

59

Ha Giang

19

Ha Nam

351

Ha Tay

34

Ha Tinb

39

Hai Hung

32

Hai Phong

31

Ho Chi Minh

8

Hoa Binh

18

Khanh Hoa

58

Kien Giang

77

Kon Tum

60

Lai Chau

23

Lam Dong

63

Lang Son

25

Lao Cai

20

Long An

72

Minh Hai

78

Nam Ha

35

Nam Dinh

350

Nghe An

38

Ninh Binh

30

Ninh Thuan

68

Phu Yen

57

Quang Binh

52

Quang Nam

510

Quang Ngai

55

Quang Ninh

33

Quang Tri

53

Soc Trang

79

Son La

22

Song Be

65

Binh Duong

650

Binh Phuoc

651

Tay Ninh

66

Thai Binh

36

Thai Nguyen

280

Thanh Hoa

37

Thua Thien Hue

54

Tien Giang

73

Tra Vinh

74

Tuyen Quang

70

Vinh Long

70

Vinh Phu

211

Vung Tau

64

Yen Bai

29