Population: Est. 90 million (2014)
GDP per capita: USD 2,109 (2015)
Capital city: Ha Noi
Administrative units: 63 provinces and cities
Bordering countries: China, Lao, Cambodia
Climate: Tropical monsoon. National language: Vietnamese
Currency: Dong (VND). Country dial code: +84
Time zone: +7 GMT
Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. With an estimated 90.5 million inhabitants, it is the world’s 14th-most-populous country, and the eighth-most-populous Asian country. Vietnam is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and Malaysia across the South China Sea to the southeast. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1975.
Vietnam has two World Natural Heritage Sites – Hạ Long Bay and Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park – and six biosphere reserves, including Cần Giờ Mangrove Forest, Cát Tiên, Cát Bà, Kiên Giang, the Red River Delta, and Western Nghệ An.
In recent years, 13 genera, 222 species, and 30 taxa of flora have been newly described in Vietnam. Six new mammal species, including the saola, giant muntjac and Tonkin snub-nosed monkey have also been discovered, along with one new bird species, the endangered Edwards’s pheasant. In the late 1980s, a small population of Javan rhinoceros was found in Cát Tiên National Park. However, the last individual of the species in Vietnam was reportedly shot in 2010.
Vietnam is one of twenty-five countries considered to possess a uniquely high level of biodiversity. It is ranked 16th worldwide in biological diversity, being home to approximately 16% of the world’s species. 15,986 species of flora have been identified in the country, of which 10% are endemic, while Vietnam’s fauna include 307 nematode species, 200 oligochaeta, 145 acarina, 113 springtails, 7,750 insects, 260 reptiles, 120 amphibians, 840 birds and 310 mammals, of which 100 birds and 78 mammals are endemic.
In agricultural genetic diversity, Vietnam is one of the world’s twelve original cultivar centers. The Vietnam National Cultivar Gene Bank preserves 12,300 cultivars of 115 species.The Vietnamese government spent US$49.07 million on the preservation of biodiversity in 2004 alone, and has established 126 conservation areas, including 28 national parks.
Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate dominated by south to southeasterly winds from May until September and northerly to northeasterly winds between October and April. But there are differences between north and south. Temperatures in Hanoi can be rather chilly in winter. Although averages are quite pleasant, between 20 °C and 23 °C during the day.
As in any country when travelling, keep a close eye on your belongings. Secure your valuables, documents and credit cards in your hotel safe or carry them close on your body if that is not possible. Beware of pickpockets, purse-snatchers and mobile phone thieves, especially in Ho Chi Minh City. If you choose to rent a motorbike or ride a bicycle, always wear a helmet.
The emergency telephone numbers are:
113 – Police
114 – Fire
115 – Medical.