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Vietnam Index

PAVN (People's Army of Vietnam) is the formal name given to all elements of the Vietnamese armed forces; hence the designation PAVN (or People's) Navy and PAVN (or People's) Air Force. This usage is traceable to the 1954 Geneva Agreements under which the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) was permitted to keep such armed forces as it already possessed. To adhere to the letter of the agreements, DRV leaders immediately created a navy and air force, but listed these new services as part of PAVN. Separate naval and air forces with distinct military identities evolved over the years, however, and traditional interservice rivalries quickly began to assert themselves (see fig. 18).

From their earliest days, the Vietnamese communists organized their armed forces into three basic categories described informally as "types of troops." Within the first category, the PAVN Regular Force ("main force troops"), are the army, the navy, and the air force. In 1987 the army consisted of about 1.2 million officers and enlisted personnel; the navy, about 15,000; and the air force, about 20,000. The second grouping, the Regional Force (or "territorial troops"), is organized geographically and consists chiefly of infantry units with limited mobility. In 1987 it totaled about 500,000. The third category, the PAVN Militia Self-Defense Force (or "local troops"), is a semi-mobilized element organized by community (village, urban precinct) or economic enterprise (commune, factory, worksite). In 1987 it numbered about 1.2 million.

Military writers in Hanoi have tended to refer to the Regional and Militia Self-Defense forces collectively as the Strategic Rear Force. The Regional Force is deployed at the provincial level and has units headquartered in each provincial capital, at the very least. The Militia Self-Defense Force fulfills combat, combat support, and police functions from the district to the village level. The Regional and Militia Self- Defense forces are two of about a dozen separate military organizations that constitute the Paramilitary Force, which is an integral part of PAVN.

Taken together, these groups--excluding PAVN--have a total of about 1.6 million personnel under arms. The Paramilitary Force has four functions: to defend its local area in time of war and to delay, not to halt, the enemy; to support PAVN regular units in combat; to maintain local security in peace and in wartime; and to engage in economic activity, chiefly food production and road-building. In the deployment of troops during wartime for the purpose of repelling a full-scale invasion, PAVN strategists make a doctrinal distinction between the Regular Force, which would use conventional tactics, and the Paramilitary Force, which would employ guerrilla tactics in "local people's warfare."

Backing up the Regular and Paramilitary Forces is a reserve of about 500,000 personnel designated the Tactical Rear Force. This semi-mobilized body is composed mainly of veterans and overage males, who in time of emergency would replace personnel in the Militia Self-Defense Force. The latter would move up to the Regional Force, whose units might in turn be upgraded into the Regular Force.

Augmenting the Regular and Paramilitary Forces are two other military bodies whose status or functions appear anomalous. In the North, a "super" paramilitary force called the People's Guerrilla Forces was created in 1979. It was described as a special combat organization with units deployed in villages along the China border and seacoast. However, in late 1987, little more was known about it. In the South, a somewhat better-known organization, designated the Armed Youth Assault Force (AYAF) or Youth Assault Force (YAF), is reported to perform paramilitary functions. The AYAF is organized along military lines (from platoon to brigade) and usually is commanded by retired PAVN officers. However, it appears to be more a party organization than a military body reporting through defense channels. Units at various echelons are under the supervision of local district party committees, and the chain of command apparently leads to Hanoi. AYAF strength in 1986 was estimated at 1.5 million.

In 1986 the PAVN chain of command was headed by the party-government military policy-making apparatus: the National Assembly, the Ministry of Defense, and the National Defense Council on the government side; and the Political Bureau of the VCP Central Committee and the Central Military Party Committee on the party side. Because of overlapping Political Bureau and Central Military Party Committee membership, the Central Military Party Committee could be regarded as the ultimate power for all military matters. It was reorganized in 1982 and consisted of a secretary, a first deputy secretary, two deputy secretaries, and six members. Under guidance from the Political Bureau or the Central Committee, the Central Military Party Committee translated the will of the party--expressed in broad political terms--into specific instructions for the military.

The Ministry of Defense Party Committee, at the very top of the Ministry of Defense, had an entirely military membership. It was the highest operational party arm that dealt directly with PAVN, and consisted of a secretary, the PAVN commander in chief, the chiefs of the five military general-directorates (Military General Staff Directorate, General Political Directorate, General Rear Services Directorate, General Technical Directorate, and General Economic Construction Directorate), and the senior political commissars of the major subordinate commands, that is, the air force, the navy, and the four theaters of operation (the China border, the coast from the China border to below Da Nang, Northern Vietnam and Northern Laos, and Cambodia). Its secretariat was composed of a secretary general, two deputies, and ten members. The committee administered other party committees from the military-theater level to the basic party- unit level. At the division level and above, party committees were sizable permanent institutions whose function was to interpret Political Bureau and Central Committee directives for their respective organizations.

The major services, such as the air force and navy, had at headquarters level a Command Party Committee with a secretariat headed by the top political officer for the service and including the heads of all departments. At the company level was the party chapter, or chi bo (see Glossary), run by an executive committee of two or three full-time officials and made up of a collection of party cells ( to dang, see Glossary), each run by a cell leader. The leaders of party chapters communicated the party line, indoctrinated both party and nonparty members within PAVN, directed "emulation movement" drives and other motivational programs, recruited and purged the membership, and generally ensured the party's participation in all military matters.

The Ministry of Defense, organizationally, consisted of the Office of the Minister of Defense and offices of seven vice ministers of defense. These vice ministries were fairly small and for the most part coordinated the activities of the Ministry of Defense with other ministries and state organs whose activities concerned the armed forces (see fig. 17).

The highest level of authority for military operations in PAVN was the PAVN High Command, an institution encompassing the Office of the Commander in Chief, the five military directorates, and the offices of seven deputy chiefs of staff. The most important element of the High Command, under the chief of staff, was the Military General Staff Directorate, which can be likened to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the United States Department of Defense. At the next lower echelon were four other Military General Directorates that functioned roughly as staff sections of the high command. Also under the chief of staff were seven deputy chiefs of staff, whose purpose was liaison rather than command, and a number of specialized military commands. The PAVN Military Intelligence Department reported directly to the commander in chief (see fig. 18). It had personnel at lower levels of PAVN, and its chief responsibility appeared to be military intelligence activities within Vietnam and in Cambodia, where it reportedly had a large staff. It is not known whether this department operated outside Indochina.

The PAVN command structure was divided geographically into four military theaters and nine military regions or zones, including a Capital Military Region around Hanoi and Quang Ninh Province Special Region (see fig. 19). It was also divided tactically into military units ranging in descending order from corps to divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions, companies, platoons and squads. The military-theater designation was introduced in the midst of a postwar buildup when PAVN increased its regular force from 400,000 to about 1.2 million members and its divisions from 25 to 51 (38 infantry divisions and 13 support or economic construction divisions). The number of PAVN corps was also increased from six to eight. Creation of the military theater and the military corps was designed to facilitate what was called the combined arms strategy, meaning larger and more complex military operations that might include use of indigenous military forces from Cambodia and Laos.

A corps ranged in size from 30,000 to 50,000 troops and normally consisted of 4 infantry divisions plus service and support elements. A PAVN infantry division normally was composed of 3 infantry regiments (2,500 men each), 1 artillery regiment, 1 tank battalion, and the usual support elements. A regiment in turn was divided into battalions (600 men each) and the battalion into companies (200 men each).

As of mid-1986, the thirty-eight PAVN regular infantry divisions were assigned thus: nineteen in Cambodia, sixteen in Vietnam (ten in northern Vietnam, six in central and southern Vietnam), and three in Laos. Most of the thirteen economic construction divisions were in the China border region. A construction division was made up of older soldiers, including many who had fought in the South during the Second Indochina War. Each construction division was fully armed, had a specific tactical purpose, and continued to carry out its military training in addition to economic tasks, usually road building (see The Military's Place in Society , this ch.). These units carried the burden of the brief 1979 war with China and generally acquitted themselves well.

In 1987 PAVN's major combat services--artillery, armor, air defense, and special operations--were organized along standard lines, similar to armies elsewhere. Each consisted of a force whose commanding officer reported to the Military General Staff Directorate. A mystique surrounded the PAVN Special Operations Force, successor to the legendary Sapper Combat Arm of the First and Second Indochina Wars that specialized in sabotage and clandestine military operations. In 1987, the Special Operations Force consisted of two elements, the Sapper Command and the Airborne Command (the 305th Airborne Brigade). Reportedly there was a third element, an amphibious commando unit, about which little was known.

The Army in 1986 was estimated to maintain 1,600 Soviet-made T-34 -54 -55 -62, Type-59 tanks and 450 PT-76 and type 60 63 light tanks. It was also equipped with an estimated 2,700 reconnaissance vehicles; approximately 600 artillery guns and howitzers; an unknown number of rocket launchers, mortars, and antitank weapons; and 3,000 air defense weapons.

The PAVN Navy, begun in 1955 as the PAVN Riverine and Maritime Force, in 1959 became the Coastal Defense Force. Its "tradition day" is celebrated annually on August 5 to mark the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident in the Second Indochina War. The PAVN Navy began a buildup in the mid-1960s with the arrival of twenty-eight gunboats from China and thirty patrol torpedo boats from the Soviet Union. At the end of the Second Indochina War, it assumed the normal dual missions of a navy, that is, coastal defense and sea surveillance.

In 1986 the PAVN Navy continued to receive Soviet assistance and encouragement and was the largest naval force in Southeast Asia. Including some 1,300 former United States and South Vietnamese naval vessels, naval and civilian junks, and coasters, the PAVN Navy had a total of about 1,500 vessels. Its inventory contained two principal combat vessels, 192 patrol boats, 51 amphibious warfare ships, 104 landing ships, and 133 auxiliary craft.

The command structure of the PAVN Navy originated in Hanoi, where the commander in chief of naval forces was located. His office, the Naval Directorate, reported to the Military general Staff Directorate, i.e., the high command. The top operational Commander was the Commander, Vietnam Naval Forces, headquartered in Haiphong. The two posts were usually held by the same individual. Regulations issued in April 1982 established three flag-rank officers: rear admiral, equivalent to a major general; vice admiral, equivalent to a lieutenant general; and full admiral, equivalent to a colonel general.

Five naval regions made up the operational command. Headquartered at Haiphong, Vinh, Da Nang, Vung Tau, and Rach Gia, each region had two or more naval installations or facilities for which it was responsible. Within this structure were the navy fleets or navy groups, in turn divided into navy brigades. In 1987 the Ham Tu Fleet patrolled the northern Gulf of Tonkin as a strategic deterrent to China; its Chuong Duong Brigade was designed to oppose amphibious landings; its Kiet Brigade was assigned to defend the offshore islands and to perform troop transport duties. The Bach Dang Fleet served in the South. Its Ham Tu Naval Brigade (with 80 percent of its personnel South Vietnamese Navy veterans) operated almost entirely in Cambodian waters.

The PAVN Air Force fixed April 3, 1965, as its tradition day, the day when its pilots supposedly first engaged their United States counterparts in a dogfight over North Vietnam, and celebrates it annually. The Soviet Union increased the PAVN air inventory late in the Second Indochina War and again in 1979 after the Chinese attack. As of 1985 it was estimated that the PAVN Air Force consisted of about 1,600 planes and 20,000 personnel, making it the largest air force in Southeast Asia (somewhere between China's and India's in size). The operational element of the PAVN Air Force was the air regiment, of which there were seventeen in 1987 grouped into air divisions and headquartered at Noi Bai (Hanoi), Da Nang, Tho Xuan, and Tan Son Nhut (Ho Chi Minh City). The air regiments included 7 attack fighter-plane regiments (450 planes); 4 basic and advanced training regiments (225 trainers); 3 cargo-transport regiments (350 planes); and 3 helicopter regiments (600 helicopters). One light bomber force (60 planes) existed separately from the air regiments. The commander of the Air Force, headquartered at Bac Mai Air Base outside Hanoi, reported to the General Staff Directorate of PAVN. Strategic use of the Vietnamese Air Force, from its inception until 1979, was entirely defensive. During the Second Indochina War it existed to defend North Vietnam from United States air attack, but after the war, and especially in 1979, it existed to defend Vietnam from attack by China. Although defense remained its primary strategic function, the air force increasingly developed an offensive capability after 1979--chiefly through its attack-helicopter regiments--for use in Cambodia and presumably, should the need arise, against China. The PAVN Air Force made a first tentative venture into space flight in 1981, when Lt. Col. Phan Tuan (son of former defense minister Vo Nguyen Giap) took part in the Soviet Union's Soyuz 37 mission, a linkup with the orbiting Soviet space laboratory, Salyut 6.

In 1987, the PAVN Border Defense Command was the newest military organization. Until 1979, responsibility for border security was vested in the People's Armed Public Security Force (PAPSF), under the control of the Ministry of Interior, and paramilitary units acted collectively as a border patrol. Border defense became a full-time task only with the rise of the China threat. As a result, the Border Defense Command was transferred to the Ministry of Defense in 1979 and divested of such responsibilities as dealing with smugglers and illegal border crossings so that it could devote full attention to border defenses. The command was organized into battalions and included a mixture of PAVN and paramilitary units. Their duties included operating border checkpoints, patrolling the border, operating boats in the coastal waterway network, maintaining security on nearby islands, and operating roving border-area units (mostly composed of Montagnards) to guard against incursions by Chinese patrols.

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

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
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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