Spoken language is Vietnamese, English is increasingly favored as a second language, and there are still people speak some French. Vietnam – officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a strip of land shaped like the letter “S”, lies on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula. It is bordered by China in the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south. Three quarters of its territory comprise mountains and hills and it has over 3,000 km long coastline.
Vietnam has been a development success story. Economic reforms since the launch of Đổi Mới in 1986, coupled with beneficial global trends, have helped propel Vietnam from being one of the world’s poorest nations to a middle-income economy in one generation. Between 2002 and 2020, GDP per capita increased 2.7 times, reaching almost US$2,800. Over the same period, poverty rates (US$1.90/day) declined sharply from over 32.0 % in 2011 to below 2.0 %.
With a population of over 96 million people, it is the 13th most populous country in the world. In general, the population growth rate in Vietnam is at a low level with an increase of 1.07% in 2016 and 1.15% in 2019. This is the result of the implementation of the National Strategy on Population and Reproductive health for the period 2011-2020, with the goal that by 2020, 70.0% of women will have access to contraceptive methods and increase to 100.0% by 2030, including the poor, marginalized groups, and disadvantaged groups. outreach, and ethnic minorities. This policy is intended to reduce unwanted pregnancies that result in unsafe delivery or abortion.
According to UNFPA, Vietnam is enjoying the “golden population structure” period and will end in 2040. The population aged 15-24 years old accounts for the majority up to 70% of the population. According to preliminary data Ministry of General Statistics Office in 2016, Vietnam’s working-age population increased by more than 461.0 thousand people compared to 2015, reaching 54.45 million people. In 2019, Vietnam had 55.77 million people are of working age.
Vietnam is the country with the highest population density among countries in the region with 315.0 people/km2 as of January 2021.
The country is divided into the highlands and the Hong River Delta in the north, the Annamite Range along with the coastal lowlands in the Centre, and the Mekong Delta in the south. A country of tropical lowlands, hills, and densely forested highlands, with level land covering no more than 20.0% of the area.
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for people to signal their true commitment to friends. To get a sense of how close countries are in geopolitical terms and how warm their relationships are, one can simply count the number of high-level visits, or the number of COVID-19 vaccines donated between them. If these indicators have something to say, then Vietnam is the closest to the United States – and the farthest from China – among all Southeast Asian countries. The United States and Vietnam have conducted three high-level visits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 – and the count will soon be four.
In the large scheme of things, the strategic rivalries between the United States and China and between Vietnam and China continue to converge. Both the United States and Vietnam are among the countries most committed to preventing Chinese domination of Southeast Asia. Both are eager to maintain a rules-based international order in the South China Sea. And both are interested in restructuring the international supply chains to reduce excessive dependence on the Chinese market.
Also, Vietnam calls 15 countries its “strategic partners” – 5 countries in South Asia, 5 countries in Europe and 5 countries in Asia and three additional countries – China, Russia, and India – are “comprehensive strategic partners.”
With an economic growth rate forecast of 6.3% in 2017 (IMF), Vietnam is forecast for steady growth from 2017 to 2020 at around 6.3 to 6.4% (BMI Q4 2016). The recently approved Vietnam Power Development Plan 7 and the Vietnam Mining Development Strategy have set out the clear objectives between 2016 to 2030 as follows:
- Developing a sustainable national energy and mining industry
- Diversifying and securing energy and resource supplies
- Making refinery and downstream processing on minerals mandatory
- Address political and environmental pressures to drive economic returns to the nation
- Vietnam’s key mineral endowment includes coal, bauxite, rare earth, tungsten, titanium, phosphate rocks and iron ore.
- Rice: the top exporter of rice in the world
- Fishery: Over 3,000 kilometers of coastline with substantial mangrove areas. Already a major exporter of fish and shrimp
Vietnam is touted as a low-cost manufacturer with competitive labor costs. On average, Vietnam’s labor costs are half as much as China’s labor costs at $2.99 (VND 68.000) per hour compared to $6.50 (VND 148.000) per hour respectively. This contributes to Vietnam’s increasing position as a more cost-effective alternative to its regional counterparts.
Also, Vietnam has a relatively large, well-educated labor force, making it an attractive hub for production. In addition, the government has provided various vocational education and training sessions to equip the workforce.
The reform policies launched in Vietnam in 1986 known as Doi Moi, translated literally as “restoration” have brought profound changes to the country — rescuing it from the failures of central planning and self-isolation adopted after unification of the country in 1975. From a country on the brink of economic collapse, Vietnam has revived itself and is now on a path to economic prosperity, enjoying greater international status through participation in various regional and international institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations.