In today’s world, there are few countries whose names are associated with war. Vietnam undoubtedly belongs to this grim list, and this is only one of the reasons why a trip through this remote region is so exciting and yet surprising, because Vietnam is not all about a war. A trip could involve traveling through the unparalleled scenery of Ha Long Bay, or ‘landing dragon bay’, with its 3000 islets. Alternatively, it could involve traveling to the northern territories, where you could visit the remote villages of Vietnam’s diverse ethnic groups. The name ‘Mekong Delta’ might sound frightening and mysterious to some people but in fact this is one of the country’s most scenic and pastoral regions, where the daily routine takes place beside the flow of the wide Mekong.

 


Location
: Southeast Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea. Vietnam border countries: Cambodia, China, Laos.

 


Area
: 331,210 sq km.

Landscape: low, flat delta in the south and the north; highlands in the centre; mountainous or hilly terrain in the far north and the northwest. The highest point is Fan Si Pan, 3144 m.

 


Climate
: tropical in the south; monsoonal in the north with a hot, rainy season May to September and a warm, dry season October to March.

 


Nationality
: Kinh (Viet) 86.2%, various minorities such as Tay, Thai, Muong, Khome, Hoa, and more.


Population
: 88,576,758 (July 2009).

 


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

 


Literacy
: 90.3% of Vietnamese adults are literate: males 93.9%, females 86.9%.

 


Religion
: Officially more than 80% are atheist. But many Vietnamese people practice some ritual from Buddhism, Daoism, or many local beliefs. The Cao Dai religion accounts for 1.1%, Protestantism 0.5%, Islam 0.1%, Catholicism 6.7%.

 


Government
: communist state. The president is elected by the National Assembly from among its members for a five-year term. The prime minister is appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly. The appointment of the prime minister and the deputy prime ministers is confirmed by the National Assembly,

 


Administrative subdivisions:
58 provinces and 5 municipalities (including Hanoi, the capital, and Ho Chi Minh City).


Civilization
: most Vietnamese are farmers and the urban population is only 28% of the total. Rate of urbanization: the annual rate of change is 3.1%.

 


Telecommunications
: domestic and international services are increasingly available for private use. In almost any town in Vietnam you can find an internet center.

 


Monetary unit
: dong (VND).

 


Time Zone
: UTC/GMT +7 hours.