Discovering Vietnam


Offering a unique cuisine, culture, nature, and history, it is no surprise that Vietnam attracts thousands of expatriates every year. In this article, you will find a broad overview of Vietnam’s demography, economy, politics, and climate.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, most commonly known as Vietnam, is a South East Asian country that stretches over some 331,041 km². It is bordered by Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, China, and the East Sea. The capital of Vietnam, located in the North, is Hanoi (locally known as Hà Nội).

Demography

Vietnam has a relatively dense population of more than 90 million inhabitants. The official language is Vietnamese; however, some fifty other languages are spoken by different groups across the country, including Mandarin, Khmer, English, and French.

Economy

Vietnam's economy is based predominantly on agriculture, especially rice cultivation. The economy also benefits from exports, tourism, petroleum products, and mineral resources. The country's main export partners are China, Japan, and the United States. The growth rate in 2016 was estimated at 6.2% and the inflation rate of 2.67%. Vietnam is a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Politics

Vietnam is a socialist republic. The country is governed by the Vietnamese National Assembly which is elected every five years by indirect suffrage.

Climate

Vietnam has a tropical climate in the South and a more humid subtropical climate in the North. Some areas regularly experience monsoons whilst others have a drier climate. The dry season lasts from November to April in the South and from February to August in the centre of the country. The wet season lasts from May to October in the South and from September to January in the centre. Temperatures vary between 17°C in December and January, to a hot 37°C in April.

Religion

Interestingly, Vietnamese people do not typically subscribe to one single religion. Considering the country’s history, and being influenced by its neighbouring lands, Vietnamese beliefs and practices are informed by three primary religions, namely Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. This trinity is often referred to as the Triple Religion or Tam Giáo.

In certain regions a small minority practice Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, people of Vietnam generally respect one another and live in harmony.

Culture

Due to its millennium of Chinese rule, Vietnam was strongly influenced in terms of culture, practices, and politics. The French colonial period saw an adoption of the Latin alphabet, as well as some other influences such as architecture and cuisine.

Some elements that are considered true characteristics of Vietnamese culture are the worship of ancestors, utmost respect and devotion to study, and the practice of manual labour. There is a cultural emphasis on both village/clan (over family) and country. Traditional weddings are incredibly important, take place on Sundays, and it is expected that you marry at a young age. Marriages used to be arranged but this is no longer practised.