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Vietnam Overview
Vietnam, a name too long associated with the horrors of war, has finally won its last battle - to capture the imagination of the traveling public. Elegant Hanoi now vies with its dynamic sister, Ho Chi Minh City (still fondly called Saigon by the locals), for the attention of visitors drawn by the eclectic mix of old and new. In both cities the streets are jam-packed with motorbikes and scooters, often carrying whole families, and the markets are chaotically busy.
Located on the East of the Indochinese peninsula, Việt Nam, shaped like the letter “S”, borders China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, and the South China Sea to the east.

With a population of more than 80 million people, Viet Nam is home to 54 different ethnic groups. The Viet (Kinh) people account for 87% of the country's population who predominantly live in the low land areas. The other 53 ethnic minority groups, amounting to over 8 million people, are scattered over mountainous areas covering two-thirds of the country's territory.

Viet Nam remains politically stable. Since embarking on social and economic reforms in 1986, the country has become one of the fastest developing countries in the world. Over the past 15 years, the country recorded annual economic growth of between 7-9 per cent, making it East Asia’s second swiftest growing economy. Along with the phenomenal pace of growth, the country has managed to reduce its poverty rate by more than half from 58 per cent in 1990 to 19.5 per cent in 2004.

While new opportunities and economic benefits have improved the lives of many Vietnamese people, there are ever-increasing gaps between the rich and the poor, and between rural and urban populations. While the poverty rate is 10.8 per cent in urban areas, it is 27.5  per cent in rural areas.

Ethnic minorities especially have not shared in the many benefits of the past decade's developments partially as a result of existing social and cultural divisions. In addition, not all communities are able to access basic social services, for example, ethnic minority communities living in remote mountainous areas. It is estimated that the poverty rate for ethnic minorities is 69.3 per cent, compared to 23.11 per cent for the majority Kinh and Chinese ethnic groups.

General Information
Population-84million people
Total Area - 329,560 square kilometers
Capital - Hanoi
Time Zone - Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +7 hours