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Vietnam-Dien Bien Phu





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With Beijing's promise of limited assistance to Hanoi, the communist military strategy concentrated on the liberation of Tonkin and consigned Cochinchina to a lower priority. The top military priority, as set by Giap, was to free the northern border areas in order to protect the movement of supplies and personnel from China. By autumn of 1950, the Viet Minh had again liberated the Viet Bac in decisive battles that forced the French to evacuate the entire border region, leaving behind a large quantity of ammunition. From their liberated zone in the northern border area, the Viet Minh were free to make raids into the Red River Delta. The French military in Vietnam found it increasingly difficult to convince Paris and the French electorate to give them the manpower and materiel needed to defeat the Viet Minh. For the next two years, the Viet Minh, well aware of the growing disillusionment of the French people with Indochina, concentrated its efforts on wearing down the French military by attacking its weakest outposts and by maximizing the physical distance between engagements to disperse French forces. Being able to choose the time and place for such engagements gave the guerrillas a decided advantage. Meanwhile, political activity was increased until, by late 1952, more than half the villages of the Red River Delta were under Viet Minh control.

The newly appointed commander of French forces in Vietnam, General Henri Navarre, decided soon after his arrival in Vietnam that it was essential to halt a Viet Minh offensive underway in neighboring Laos. To do so, Navarre believed it was necessary for the French to capture and hold the town of Dien Bien Phu, sixteen kilometers from the Laotian border. For the Viet Minh, control of Dien Bien Phu was an important link in the supply route from China. In November 1953, the French occupied the town with paratroop battalions and began reinforcing it with units from the French military post at nearby Lai Chau.

During that same month, Ho indicated that the DRV was willing to examine French proposals for a diplomatic settlement announced the month before. In February 1954, a peace conference to settle the Korean and Indochinese conflicts was set for April in Geneva, and negotiations in Indochina were scheduled to begin on May 8. Viet Minh strategists, led by Giap, concluded that a successful attack on a French fortified camp, timed to coincide with the peace talks, would give Hanoi the necessary leverage for a successful conclusion of the negotiations.

Accordingly, the siege of Dien Bien Phu began on March 13, by which time the Viet Minh had concentrated nearly 50,000 regular troops, 55,000 support troops, and almost 100,000 transport workers in the area. Chinese aid, consisting mainly of ammunition, petroleum, and some large artillery pieces carried a distance of 350 kilometers from the Chinese border, reached 1,500 tons per month by early 1954. The French garrison of 15,000, which depended on supply by air, was cut off by March 27, when the Viet Minh artillery succeeded in making the airfield unusable. An elaborate system of tunnels dug in the mountainsides enabled the Viet Minh to protect its artillery pieces by continually moving them to prevent discovery. Several hundred kilometers of trenches permitted the attackers to move progressively closer to the French encampment. In the final battle, human wave assaults were used to take the perimeter defenses, which yielded defensive guns that were then turned on the main encampment. The French garrison surrendered on May 7, ending the siege that had cost the lives of about 25,000 Vietnamese and more than 1,500 French troops.

The following day, peace talks on Indochina began in Geneva, attended by the DRV, the Associated State of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, France, Britain, China, the Soviet Union, and the United States. In July a compromise agreement was reached consisting of two documents: a cease-fire and a final declaration. The ceasefire agreement, which was signed only by France and the DRV, established a provisional military demarcation line at about the 17°N parallel and required the regroupment of all French military forces south of that line and of all Viet Minh military forces north of the line. A demilitarized zone (DMZ), no more than five kilometers wide, was established on either side of the demarcation line. The cease-fire agreement also provided for a 300-day period, during which all civilians were free to move from one zone to the other, and an International Control Commission, consisting of Canada, India, and Poland, to supervise the ceasefire . The final declaration was endorsed through recorded oral assent by the DRV, France, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. It provided for the holding of national elections in July 1956, under the supervision of the International Control Commission, and stated that the military demarcation line was provisional and "should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political territorial boundary." Both the United States and the Associated State of Vietnam, which France had recognized on June 4 as a "fully independent and sovereign state," refused to approve the final declaration and submitted separate declarations stating their reservations.

Data as of December 1987



BackgroundThe conquest of Vietnam by France began in 1858 and was completed by 1884. It became part of French Indochina in 1887. Vietnam declared independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by Communist forces under Ho Chi MINH. Under the Geneva Accords of 1954, Vietnam was divided into the Communist North and anti-Communist South. US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, North Vietnamese forces overran the South reuniting the country under Communist rule. Despite the return of peace, for over a decade the country experienced little economic growth because of conservative leadership policies, the persecution and mass exodus of individuals - many of them successful South Vietnamese merchants - and growing international isolation. However, since the enactment of Vietnam's "doi moi" (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnamese authorities have committed to increased economic liberalization and enacted structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The country continues to experience small-scale protests from various groups, the vast majority connected to land-use issues and the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. Various ethnic minorities, such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region, have also held protests. In January 2008, Vietnam assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008-09 term.
LocationSoutheastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia
Area(sq km)total: 331,210 sq km
land: 310,070 sq km
water: 21,140 sq km
Geographic coordinates16 10 N, 107 50 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 4,639 km
border countries: Cambodia 1,228 km, China 1,281 km, Laos 2,130 km

Coastline(km)3,444 km (excludes islands)

Climatetropical in south; monsoonal in north with hot, rainy season (May to September) and warm, dry season (October to March)

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m
Natural resourcesphosphates, coal, manganese, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, forests, hydropower
Land use(%)arable land: 20.14%
permanent crops: 6.93%
other: 72.93% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)30,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)891.2 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 71.39 cu km/yr (8%/24%/68%)
per capita: 847 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsoccasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta
Environment - current issueslogging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices contribute to deforestation and soil degradation; water pollution and overfishing threaten marine life populations; groundwater contamination limits potable water supply; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - noteextending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point
Population86,967,524 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 24.9% (male 11,230,402/female 10,423,901)
15-64 years: 69.4% (male 29,971,088/female 30,356,393)
65 years and over: 5.7% (male 1,920,043/female 3,065,697) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 27.4 years
male: 26.4 years
female: 28.5 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)0.977% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)16.31 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)6.17 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 28% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 22.88 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.27 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 22.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 71.58 years
male: 68.78 years
female: 74.57 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.83 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)
adjective: Vietnamese
Ethnic groups(%)Kinh (Viet) 86.2%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.7%, Muong 1.5%, Khome 1.4%, Hoa 1.1%, Nun 1.1%, Hmong 1%, others 4.1% (1999 census)

Religions(%)Buddhist 9.3%, Catholic 6.7%, Hoa Hao 1.5%, Cao Dai 1.1%, Protestant 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, none 80.8% (1999 census)
Languages(%)Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

Country nameconventional long form: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
conventional short form: Vietnam
local long form: Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam
local short form: Viet Nam
abbreviation: SRV
Government typeCommunist state
Capitalname: Hanoi (Ha Noi)
geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions58 provinces (tinh, singular and plural) and 5 municipalities (thanh pho, singular and plural)
provinces: An Giang, Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Bac Lieu, Bac Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ben Tre, Binh Dinh, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Cao Bang, Dac Lak, Dac Nong, Dien Bien, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Gia Lai, Ha Giang, Ha Nam, Ha Tinh, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hoa Binh, Hung Yen, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Kon Tum, Lai Chau, Lam Dong, Lang Son, Lao Cai, Long An, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Ninh Binh, Ninh Thuan, Phu Tho, Phu Yen, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Ninh, Quang Tri, Soc Trang, Son La, Tay Ninh, Thai Binh, Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, Thua Thien-Hue, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, Tuyen Quang, Vinh Long, Vinh Phuc, Yen Bai
municipalities: Can Tho, Da Nang, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City
Constitution15-Apr-92

Legal systembased on communist legal theory and French civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Nguyen Minh TRIET (since 27 June 2006); Vice President Nguyen Thi DOAN (since 25 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan DUNG (since 27 June 2006); Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh HUNG (since 28 June 2006), Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung HAI (since 2 August 2007), Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien NHAN (since 2 August 2007), Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia KHIEM (since 28 June 2006), and Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh TRONG (since 28 June 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president based on proposal of prime minister and confirmed by National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly from among its members for five-year term; last held 27 June 2006 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by the prime minister; appointment of prime minister and deputy prime ministers confirmed by National Assembly
election results: Nguyen Minh TRIET elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - 94%; Nguyen Tan DUNG elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote - 92%

Legislative branchunicameral National Assembly or Quoc Hoi (493 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 20 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPV 450, non-party CPV-approved 42, self-nominated 1; note - 493 candidates were elected; CPV and non-party CPV-approved delegates were members of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front

Judicial branchSupreme People's Court (chief justice is elected for a five-year term by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the president)

Political pressure groups and leaders8406 Bloc; Democratic Party of Vietnam or DPV; People's Democratic Party Vietnam or PDP-VN; Alliance for Democracy
note: these groups advocate democracy but are not recognized by the government
International organization participationADB, APEC, APT, ARF, ASEAN, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionred field with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center

Economy - overviewVietnam is a densely-populated developing country that in the last 30 years has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy. Since 2001, Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic liberalization and international integration. They have moved to implement the structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive export-driven industries. Vietnam's membership in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and entry into force of the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement in December 2001 have led to even more rapid changes in Vietnam's trade and economic regime. Vietnam's exports to the US increased 900% from 2001 to 2007. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007 following over a decade long negotiation process. WTO membership has provided Vietnam an anchor to the global market and reinforced the domestic economic reform process. Among other benefits, accession allows Vietnam to take advantage of the phase-out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which eliminated quotas on textiles and clothing for WTO partners on 1 January 2005. Agriculture's share of economic output has continued to shrink from about 25% in 2000 to less than 20% in 2008. Deep poverty has declined significantly and is now smaller than that of China, India, and the Philippines. Vietnam is working to create jobs to meet the challenge of a labor force that is growing by more than one-and-a-half million people every year. The global financial crisis, however, will constrain Vietnam's ability to create jobs and further reduce poverty. As global growth sharply drops in 2009, Vietnam's export-oriented economy - exports were 68% of GDP in 2007 - will suffer from lower exports, higher unemployment and corporate bankruptcies, and decreased foreign investment.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$242.3 billion (2008 est.)
$228.1 billion (2007 est.)
$210.3 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$89.83 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6.2% (2008 est.)
8.5% (2007 est.)
8.2% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,800 (2008 est.)
$2,600 (2007 est.)
$2,500 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 22%
industry: 39.9%
services: 38.1% (2008 est.)
Labor force47.41 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 55.6%
industry: 18.9%
services: 25.5% (July 2005)
Unemployment rate(%)4.7% (2008 est.)
4.3% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)14.8% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 29.8% (2006)
Distribution of family income - Gini index37 (2004)
36.1 (1998)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)41.9% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $24.27 billion
expenditures: $28.85 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)23.1% (2008 est.)
8.3% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$27.01 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$50.81 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$NA (31 December 2008)
$68.27 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$9.589 billion (31 December 2008)
$19.54 billion (31 December 2007)
$9.093 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$5.4 billion in credits and grants pledged by the 2007 Consultative Group meeting in Hanoi (2007)

Public debt(% of GDP)48.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
65.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productspaddy rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; poultry; fish, seafood
Industriesfood processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, paper

Industrial production growth rate(%)6.3% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$10.71 billion (2008 est.)
-$6.993 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$62.69 billion (2008 est.)
$48.56 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes
Exports - partners(%)US 18.9%, Japan 13.6%, China 7.2%, Australia 6.7%, Singapore 4.2% (2008)
Imports$75.47 billion (2008 est.)
$58.92 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products, raw cotton, grain, cement, motorcycles
Imports - partners(%)China 19.4%, Singapore 11.6%, South Korea 8.8%, Thailand 6.1% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$24.18 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$23.75 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$25.89 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$21.83 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$40.34 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$32.74 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesdong (VND) per US dollar - 16,548.3 (2008 est.), 16,119 (2007), 15,983 (2006), 15,746 (2005), NA (2004)

Currency (code)dong (VND)

Telephones - main lines in use29.591 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular70 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: Vietnam is putting considerable effort into modernization and expansion of its telecommunication system
domestic: all provincial exchanges are digitalized and connected to Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City by fiber-optic cable or microwave radio relay networks; main lines have been substantially increased, and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly
international: country code - 84; a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3, the C2C, and Thailand-Vietnam-Hong Kong submarine cable systems; the Asia-America Gateway submarine cable system, scheduled for completion by the end of 2008, will provide new access links to Asia and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region)
Internet country code.vn
Internet users20.834 million (2008)
Airports44 (2009)
Pipelines(km)condensate/gas 42 km; gas 66 km; refined products 206 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 222,179 km
paved: 42,167 km
unpaved: 180,012 km (2004)

Ports and terminalsDa Nang, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City
Military branchesPeople's Armed Forces: People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) (includes People's Navy Command (with naval infantry, coast guard), Air and Air Defense Force (Kon Quan Nhan Dan), Border Defense Command), People's Public Security Forces, Militia Force, Self-Defense Forces (2005)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age (male) for compulsory military service; females may volunteer for active duty military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years (3 to 4 years in the navy); 18-45 years of age (male) or 18-40 years of age (female) for Militia Force or Self Defense Forces (2006)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 24,586,328
females age 16-49: 24,335,132 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 19,190,676
females age 16-49: 20,768,508 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 893,726
female: 834,279 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)2.5% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationalsoutheast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; Cambodia and Laos protest Vietnamese squatters and armed encroachments along border; an estimated 300,000 Vietnamese refugees reside in China; establishment of a maritime boundary with Cambodia is hampered by unresolved dispute over the sovereignty of offshore islands; demarcation of the China-Vietnam boundary proceeds slowly and although the maritime boundary delimitation and fisheries agreements were ratified in June 2004, implementation has been delayed; China occupies the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct" desired by several of the disputants; Vietnam continues to expand construction of facilities in the Spratly Islands; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands

Electricity - production(kWh)66.81 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 43.7%
hydro: 56.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)59.3 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)313,600 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)288,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)347,400 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)254,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)600 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)6.6 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)6.6 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)192.5 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.5% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS290,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths24,000 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and plague
water contact disease: leptospirosis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.3%
male: 93.9%
female: 86.9% (2002 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2000)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)1.8% of GDP (1991)








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