Introduction :: Vietnam


The 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military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the government, but US armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973.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 communist leaders maintain tight control on political expression but have demonstrated some modest steps toward better protection of human rights. The country continues to experience small-scale protests, the vast majority connected to either land-use issues, calls for increased political space, or the lack of equitable mechanisms for resolving disputes. The small-scale protests in the urban areas are often organized by human rights activists, but many occur in rural areas and involve various ethnic minorities such as the Montagnards of the Central Highlands, Hmong in the Northwest Highlands, and the Khmer Krom in the southern delta region.

Geography :: Vietnam


Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia

Geographic coordinates

16 10 N, 107 50 E

Map references

Southeast Asia


total: 331,210 sq km

land: 310,070 sq km

water: 21,140 sq km

Area – comparative

Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 4,616 km

border countries (3): Cambodia 1158 km, China 1297 km, Laos 2161 km


3,444 km (excludes islands)

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


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


low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest


mean elevation: 398 m

lowest point: South China Sea 0 m

highest point: Fan Si Pan 3,144 m

Natural resources

antimony, phosphates, coal, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 34.8% (2011 est.)

arable land: 20.6% (2011 est.) /** permanent crops:** 12.1% (2011 est.) /** permanent pasture:** 2.1% (2011 est.)

forest: 45% (2011 est.)

other: 20.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

46,000 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

though it has one of the highest population densities in the world, the population is not evenly dispersed; clustering is heaviest along the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin, with the Mekong Delta (in the south) and the Red River Valley (in the north) having the largest concentrations of people

Natural hazards

occasional typhoons (May to January) with extensive flooding, especially in the Mekong River delta

Environment – current issues

logging 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; air pollution; growing urban industrialization and population migration are rapidly degrading environment in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

Environment – international agreements

party 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 – note

note 1: extending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point

note 2: Son Doong in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is the world’s largest cave (greatest cross sectional area) and is the largest known cave passage in the world by volume; it currently measures a total of 38.5 million cu m (about 1.35 billion cu ft); it connects to Thung cave (but not yet officially); when recognized, it will add an additional 1.6 million cu m in volume; Son Doong is so massive that it contains its own jungle, underground river, and localized weather system; clouds form inside the cave and spew out from its exits and two dolines (openings (sinkhole skylights) created by collapsed ceilings that allow sunlight to stream in)

People and Society :: Vietnam


98,721,275 (July 2020 est.)


noun: Vietnamese (singular and plural)

adjective: Vietnamese

Ethnic groups

Kinh (Viet) 85.7%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.8%, Muong 1.5%, Khmer 1.5%, Mong 1.2%, Nung 1.1%, Hoa 1%, other 4.3% (2009 est.)

note: 54 ethnic groups are recognized by the Vietnamese Government


Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)


Buddhist 7.9%, Catholic 6.6%, Hoa Hao 1.7%, Cao Dai 0.9%, Protestant 0.9%, Muslim 0.1%, none 81.8% (2009 est.)

Age structure

population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 45.1

youth dependency ratio: 33.6

elderly dependency ratio: 11.4

potential support ratio: 8.8 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 31.9 years

male: 30.8 years

female: 33 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

0.84% (2020 est.)

Birth rate

14.5 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Death rate

6 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Population distribution

though it has one of the highest population densities in the world, the population is not evenly dispersed; clustering is heaviest along the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin, with the Mekong Delta (in the south) and the Red River Valley (in the north) having the largest concentrations of people


urban population: 37.3% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 2.98% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas – population

8.602 million Ho Chi Minh City, 4.678 million HANOI (capital), 1.618 million Can Tho, 1.300 million Hai Phong, 1.125 million Da Nang, 1.013 million Bien Hoa (2020)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

43 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 15.7 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 16 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 15.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.4 years

male: 71.9 years

female: 77.1 years (2020 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.77 children born/woman (2020 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

75.7% (2015)

Drinking water source

improved:** urban:** 98.6% of population

rural: 92.6% of population

total: 94.7% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 1.4% of population

rural: 7.4% of population

total: 5.3% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

5.5% (2017)

Physicians density

0.83 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

2.6 beds/1,000 population (2014)

Sanitation facility access

improved:** urban:** 96.9% of population

rural: 82.1% of population

total: 87.3% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 3.1% of population

rural: 17.9% of population

total: 12.7% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate

0.3% (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS

230,000 (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – deaths

4,700 (2018 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis

Obesity – adult prevalence rate

2.1% (2016)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

14.1% (2015)

Education expenditures

5.7% of GDP (2013)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 95%

male: 96.5%

female: 93.6% (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 6.9%

male: 6%

female: 7.9% (2018 est.)

Government :: Vietnam

Country name

conventional 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

etymology: “Viet nam” translates as “Viet south,” where “Viet” is an ethnic self identification dating to a second century B.C. kingdom and “nam” refers to its location in relation to other Viet kingdoms

Government type

communist state


name: Hanoi (Ha Noi)

geographic coordinates: 21 02 N, 105 51 E

time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the city has had many names in its history going back to A.D. 1010 when it first became the capital of imperial Vietnam; in 1831, it received its current name of Ha Noi, meaning “between the rivers,” which refers to its geographic location

Administrative divisions

58 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, Dak Lak, Dak 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 (Hanoi), Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)


2 September 1945 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day (National Day), 2 September (1945)


history: several previous; latest adopted 28 November 2013, effective 1 January 2014

amendments: proposed by the president, by the National Assemblys Standing Committee, or by at least two thirds of the National Assembly membership; a decision to draft an amendment requires approval by at least a two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership, followed by the formation of a constitutional drafting committee to write a draft and collect citizens opinions; passage requires at least two-thirds majority of the Assembly membership; the Assembly can opt to conduct a referendum

Legal system

civil law system; note – the civil code of 2005 reflects a European-style civil law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Vietnam

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Nguyen Phu TRONG (since 23 October 2018); note – President Tran Dai QUANG (since 2 April 2016) died on 21 September 2018

head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan PHUC (since 7 April 2016); Deputy Prime Ministers Truong Hoa BINH (since 9 April 2016), Vuong Dinh HUE (since 9 April 2016), Vu Duc DAM (since 13 November 2013), Trinh Dinh DUNG (since 9 April 2016), Pham Binh MINH (since 13 November 2013)

cabinet: Cabinet proposed by prime minister confirmed by the National Assembly and appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by National Assembly from among its members for a single 5-year term; election last held on 2 April 2016 (next to be held in spring 2021); prime minister recommended by the president and confirmed by National Assembly; deputy prime ministers confirmed by the National Assembly and appointed by the president
election results: Nguyen Phu TRONG (CPV) elected president; percent of National Assembly vote – 99.8%; Nguyen Xuan PHUC elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote – 91%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Quoc Hoi (500 seats – number following 2016 election – 494; number of current serving members – 484; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 22 May 2016 (next to be held in May 2021)

election results: percent of vote by party -CPV 95.8%, non-party members 4.2%; seats by party – CPV 474, non-party CPV-approved 20, self-nominated 2; note – 494 candidates elected, 2 CPV candidates-elect were disqualified; composition – men 364, women 122, percent of women 26.6%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme People’s Court (consists of the chief justice and 13 judges)

judge selection and term of office: chief justice elected by the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the president for a 5-year, renewable term; deputy chief justice appointed by the president from among the judges for a 5-year term; judges appointed by the president and confirmed by the National Assembly for 5-year terms

subordinate courts: High Courts (administrative, civil, criminal, economic, labor, family, juvenile); provincial courts; district courts; Military Court; note – the National Assembly Standing Committee can establish special tribunals upon the recommendation of the chief justice

Political parties and leaders

Communist Party of Vietnam or CPV [Nguyen Phu TRONG]

note: other parties proscribed

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

Ambassador Ha Kim NGOC (since 17 September 2018)
chancery: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: 1 861-0737

FAX: 1 861-0917
consulate(s) general: Houston, San Francisco

consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel KRITENBRINK (since 6 November 2017)

telephone: 84 3850-5000

embassy: 7 Lang Ha Street, Hanoi

mailing address: 7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; 4550 Hanoi Place, Washington, DC 20521-4550

FAX: 84 3850-5010
consulate(s) general: Ho Chi Minh City

Flag description

red field with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center; red symbolizes revolution and blood, the five-pointed star represents the five elements of the populace – peasants, workers, intellectuals, traders, and soldiers – that unite to build socialism

National symbol(s)

yellow, five-pointed star on red field; lotus blossom; national colors: red, yellow

National anthem


Economy :: Vietnam

Economy – overview

Vietnam is a densely populated developing country that has been transitioning since 1986 from the rigidities of a centrally planned, highly agrarian economy to a more industrial and market based economy, and it has raised incomes substantially. Vietnam exceeded its 2017 GDP growth target of 6.7% with growth of 6.8%, primarily due to unexpected increases in domestic demand, and strong manufacturing exports.

Vietnam has a young population, stable political system, commitment to sustainable growth, relatively low inflation, stable currency, strong FDI inflows, and strong manufacturing sector. In addition, the country is committed to continuing its global economic integration. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007 and concluded several free trade agreements in 2015-16, including the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (which the EU has not yet ratified), the Korean Free Trade Agreement, and the Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement. In 2017, Vietnam successfully chaired the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference with its key priorities including inclusive growth, innovation, strengthening small and medium enterprises, food security, and climate change. Seeking to diversify its opportunities, Vietnam also signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Transpacific Partnership in 2018 and continued to pursue the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

To continue its trajectory of strong economic growth, the government acknowledges the need to spark a second wave of reforms, including reforming state-owned-enterprises, reducing red tape, increasing business sector transparency, reducing the level of non-performing loans in the banking sector, and increasing financial sector transparency. Vietnams public debt to GDP ratio is nearing the government mandated ceiling of 65%.

In 2016, Vietnam cancelled its civilian nuclear energy development program, citing public concerns about safety and the high cost of the program; it faces growing pressure on energy infrastructure. Overall, the countrys infrastructure fails to meet the needs of an expanding middle class. Vietnam has demonstrated a commitment to sustainable growth over the last several years, but despite the recent speed-up in economic growth the government remains cautious about the risk of external shocks.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$648.7 billion (2017 est.)
$607.4 billion (2016 est.)
$571.9 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$220.4 billion (2017 est.)

GDP – real growth rate

6.8% (2017 est.)
6.2% (2016 est.)
6.7% (2015 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)

$6,900 (2017 est.)
$6,600 (2016 est.)
$6,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving

29% of GDP (2017 est.)
29.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
27.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use

household consumption: 66.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 6.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 24.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 2.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 100% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -101% (2017 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 15.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 33.3% (2017 est.)

services: 51.3% (2017 est.)

Agriculture – products

rice, coffee, rubber, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; pork; poultry; seafood


food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, mobile phones

Industrial production growth rate

8% (2017 est.)

Labor force

54.8 million (2017 est.)

Labor force – by occupation

agriculture: 40.3%

industry: 25.7%

services: 34% (2017)

Unemployment rate

2.2% (2017 est.)
2.3% (2016 est.)

Population below poverty line

8% (2017 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 26.8% (2014)


revenues: 54.59 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 69.37 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

24.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

58.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
59.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: official data; data cover general government debt and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.5% (2017 est.)
2.7% (2016 est.)

Current account balance

$5.401 billion (2017 est.)
$5.924 billion (2016 est.)


$214.1 billion (2017 est.)
$176.6 billion (2016 est.)

Exports – partners

US 20.1%, China 14.5%, Japan 8%, South Korea 6.8% (2017)

Exports – commodities

clothes, shoes, electronics, seafood, crude oil, rice, coffee, wooden products, machinery


$202.6 billion (2017 est.)
$162.6 billion (2016 est.)

Imports – commodities

machinery and equipment, petroleum products, steel products, raw materials for the clothing and shoe industries, electronics, plastics, automobiles

Imports – partners

China 25.8%, South Korea 20.5%, Japan 7.8%, Thailand 4.9% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$49.5 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$36.91 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt – external

$96.58 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$84.34 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Exchange rates

dong (VND) per US dollar –
22,425 (2017 est.)
22,159 (2016 est.)
22,355 (2015 est.)
21,909 (2014 est.)
21,189 (2013 est.)

Energy :: Vietnam

Electricity access

population without electricity: 1 million (2017)

electrification – total population: 99% (2017)
electrification – urban areas: 100% (2017)
electrification – rural areas: 98% (2017)

Electricity – production

158.2 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – consumption

143.2 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – exports

713 million kWh (2017 est.)

Electricity – imports

2.733 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – installed generating capacity

40.77 million kW (2016 est.)

Electricity – from fossil fuels

56% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

Electricity – from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from hydroelectric plants

43% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from other renewable sources

1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Crude oil – production

242,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)

Crude oil – exports

324,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – imports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – proved reserves

4.4 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

Refined petroleum products – production

153,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – consumption

438,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products – exports

25,620 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – imports

282,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas – production

8.098 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – consumption

8.098 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – exports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – imports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – proved reserves

699.4 billion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

235.3 million Mt (2017 est.)

Communications :: Vietnam

Telephones – fixed lines

total subscriptions: 4,296,301

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 4 (2018 est.)

Telephones – mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 140,639,140

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 145 (2018 est.)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: despite being a communist country there are plans to part privatize the states holdings in telecom companies as well as a large number of other enterprises; competition is thriving in the market place; mobile dominates over fixed-line; FttH market growing, as is e-commerce; govt. is the driving force for growth and moving towards commercializing 5G services with test licenses issued in 2019; 5 major operators; Ho Chi Minh City to become the first smart city in Vietnam with cloud computing infrastructure, big data, data centers and security-monitoring centers (2020)

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 increased, and the use of mobile telephones is growing rapidly; fixed-line 4 per 100 and mobile-cellular 145 per 100 (2018)

international: country code – 84; landing points for the SeaMeWe-3, APG, SJC2, AAE-1, AAG and the TGN-IA submarine cable system providing connectivity to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the US; satellite earth stations – 2 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region) (2020)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic’s effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry – mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite – has moderated

Broadcast media

government controls all broadcast media exercising oversight through the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC); government-controlled national TV provider, Vietnam Television (VTV), operates a network of several channels with regional broadcasting centers; programming is relayed nationwide via a network of provincial and municipal TV stations; law limits access to satellite TV but many households are able to access foreign programming via home satellite equipment; government-controlled Voice of Vietnam, the national radio broadcaster, broadcasts on several channels and is repeated on AM, FM, and shortwave stations throughout Vietnam (2018)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 68,267,875

percent of population: 70.35% (July 2018 est.)

Broadband – fixed subscriptions

total: 12,994,451

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2018 est.)

Military and Security :: Vietnam

Military and security forces

People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN): PAVN Ground Forces, PAVN Navy (includes naval infantry), PAVN Air Force and Air Defense, Border Defense Force, and Vietnam Coast Guard; Vietnam People’s Public Security; Vietnam Civil Defense Force (2019)

Military expenditures

2.3% of GDP (2018)
0.27% of GDP (2017)
2.45% of GDP (2016)
2.4% of GDP (2015)
2.3% of GDP (2014)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN) has approximately 475,000 active duty troops (405,000 ground; 40,000 naval; 30,000 air); est. 40,000 Border Defense Force and Coast Guard
(2019 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the PAVN is armed largely with weapons and equipment from Russia and the former Soviet Union; Russia remains the main supplier of newer PAVN military equipment, although in recent years Vietnam has begun diversifying its procurement with purchases from other countries including Belarus, India, Israel, and Ukraine (2019 est.)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service (females eligible for conscription, but in practice only males are drafted); conscription typically takes place twice annually and service obligation is 2 years (Army, Air Defense) and 3 years (Navy and Air Force) (2019)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift; the number of reported incidents increased from two in 2017 to four in 2018, primarily near the port of Vung Tau

Transportation :: Vietnam

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 4 (2015)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 140 (2015)

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 29,944,771 (2015)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 384,470,240 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

VN (2016)


45 (2013)

Airports – with paved runways

total: 38 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 10 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 6 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 13 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2013)

Airports – with unpaved runways

total: 7 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2013)

under 914 m: 3 (2013)


1 (2013)


72 km condensate, 398 km condensate/gas, 955 km gas, 128 km oil, 33 km oil/gas/water, 206 km refined products, 13 km water (2013)


total: 2,600 km (2014)

standard gauge: 178 km 1.435-m gauge; 253 km mixed gauge (2014)

narrow gauge: 2,169 km 1.000-m gauge (2014)


total: 195,468 km (2013)

paved: 148,338 km (2013)

unpaved: 47,130 km (2013)


47,130 km (30,831 km weight under 50 tons) (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 1,863

by type: bulk carrier 83, container ship 38, general cargo 1266, oil tanker 114, other 362 (2019)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Cam Pha Port, Da Nang, Haiphong, Phu My, Quy Nhon

container port(s) (TEUs): Saigon (6,155,535), Cai Mep (3,065,014) (2017)
river port(s): Ho Chi Minh (Mekong)

Transnational Issues :: Vietnam

Disputes – international

southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of Asian swine fever; Cambodia and Laos protest Vietnamese squatters and armed encroachments along border; Cambodia accuses Vietnam of a wide variety of illicit cross-border activities; progress on a joint development area with Cambodia is hampered by an unresolved dispute over sovereignty of offshore islands; 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; the decade-long demarcation of the China-Vietnam land boundary was completed in 2009; China occupies the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; Brunei claims a maritime boundary extending beyond as far as a median with Vietnam, thus asserting an implicit claim to Lousia Reef; the 2002 “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” eased tensions but differences between the parties negotiating the Code of Conduct continue; 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; Economic Exclusion Zone negotiations with Indonesia are ongoing, and the two countries in Fall 2011 agreed to work together to reduce illegal fishing along their maritime boundary; in May 2018, Russias RosneftVietnam unit started drilling at a block southeast of Vietnam which is within the area outlined by Chinas nine-dash line and Beijing issued a warning

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 34,110 (2018); note – Vietnam’s stateless ethnic Chinese Cambodian population dates to the 1970s when thousands of Cambodians fled to Vietnam to escape the Khmer Rouge and were no longer recognized as Cambodian citizens; Vietnamese women who gave up their citizenship to marry foreign men have found themselves stateless after divorcing and returning home to Vietnam; the government addressed this problem in 2009, and Vietnamese women are beginning to reclaim their citizenship

Illicit drugs

minor producer of opium poppy; probable minor transit point for Southeast Asian heroin; government continues to face domestic opium/heroin/methamphetamine addiction problems despite longstanding crackdowns; enforces the death penalty for drug trafficking


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