Vietnam

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Coordinates: 16°N108°E / 16°N 108°E / 16; 108

Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Cộng hòa Xã hội chủ nghĩa
Việt Nam
  (Vietnamese)
Motto: Độc lập – Tự do – Hạnh phúc
"Independence – Liberty – Happiness"
Anthem:  Tiến Quân Ca
(English: "Army March")
Vietnam (orthographic projection).png
Location Vietnam ASEAN.svg
Location of Vietnam (green)

in ASEAN  (dark grey)  [ Legend ]

Capital Hanoi
21°2′N105°51′E / 21.033°N 105.850°E / 21.033; 105.850
Largest city Ho Chi Minh City
10°48′N106°39′E / 10.800°N 106.650°E / 10.800; 106.650
National language Vietnamese [n 1]
Ethnic groups
Religion
Demonym(s) Vietnamese
Government Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
Nguyễn Phú Trọng [n 3]
Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân
Đặng Thị Ngọc Thịnh
Trương Hòa Bình
Legislature National Assembly
Formation
c. 7th century BC
204 BC
111 BC
1 February 939
29 April 1428
1 June 1802
 Became under French Protectorate
1887
2 September 1945
21 July 1954
30 April 1975
 Current official name
2 July 1976
28 November 2013 [n 4]
Area
 Total
331,212 km2 (127,882 sq mi)(65th)
 Water (%)
6.38
Population
 2019 census
96,208,984 [3] (15th)
 Density
290.48/km2 (752.3/sq mi)(30th)
GDP  (PPP)2019 estimate
 Total
Increase2.svg $770.227 billion [6] (35th)
 Per capita
Increase2.svg $8,066 [6] (128th)
GDP  (nominal)2019 estimate
 Total
Increase2.svg $261.637 billion [6] (47th)
 Per capita
Increase2.svg $2,740 [6] (129th)
Gini  (2014)37.6 [7]
medium
HDI  (2018)Increase2.svg 0.693 [8]
medium ·  118th
Currency đồng (₫) (VND)
Time zone UTC+07:00 (Vietnam Standard Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving side right
Calling code +84
ISO 3166 code VN
Internet TLD .vn

Vietnam (Vietnamese : Việt Nam, [vîət nāːm] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam [9] (Vietnamese : Cộng hòa Xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam), is a country in Southeast Asia and the easternmost country on the Indochinese Peninsula. With an estimated 96.2 million inhabitants as of 2019, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam shares its land borders with China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. It shares its maritime borders with Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand, and the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia through the South China Sea. [n 5] Its capital city is Hanoi, and its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City, also known by its former name of Saigon.

Contents

Archaeological excavations indicate that Vietnam was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic age. The ancient Vietnamese nation, which was centered on the Red River valley and nearby coastal areas, was annexed by the Han dynasty in the 2nd century BC, which subsequently made Vietnam a division of Imperial China for over a millennium. The first independent monarchy emerged in the 10th century AD. This paved the way for successive imperial dynasties as the nation expanded southward until the Indochina Peninsula was colonised by the French in the late 19th century. Modern Vietnam was born upon the Proclamation of Independence from France in 1945. Following Vietnamese victory against the French in the First Indochina War, which ended in 1954, the nation was divided into two rival states: communist North and anti-communist South. Conflicts intensified in the Vietnam War, which saw extensive US intervention in support of South Vietnam and ended with North Vietnamese victory in 1975.

After North and South Vietnam were reunified as a communist state under a unitary socialist government in 1976, the country became economically and politically isolated until 1986, when the Communist Party initiated a series of economic and political reforms that facilitated Vietnamese integration into world politics and the global economy. As a result of the successful reforms, Vietnam has enjoyed a high GDP growth rate, consistently ranked among the fastest-growing countries in the world. It nevertheless faces challenges including corruption, pollution, poverty, inadequate social welfare and a poor human rights record, including increasing persecution of religious groups and human rights advocates and intensifying restrictions on civil liberties. [11] By 2010, Vietnam had established diplomatic relations with 178 countries. It is a member of such international organisations as the United Nations (UN), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Etymology

The name Việt Nam (Vietnamese pronunciation:  [viə̀t naːm] ) is a variation of Nam Việt (Chinese : 南越 ; pinyin :Nányuè; literally "Southern Việt"), a name that can be traced back to the Triệu dynasty of the 2nd century BC. [12] The word Việt originated as a shortened form of Bách Việt (Chinese : 百越 ; pinyin :Bǎiyuè), the name of a group of people then living in southern China and Vietnam. [13] The form "Vietnam" ( 越南 ) is first recorded in the 16th-century oracular poem Sấm Trạng Trình . The name has also been found on 12 steles carved in the 16th and 17th centuries, including one at Bao Lam Pagoda in Hải Phòng that dates to 1558. [14] In 1802, Nguyễn Phúc Ánh (who later became Emperor Gia Long) established the Nguyễn dynasty. In the second year of his rule, he asked the Jiaqing Emperor of the Qing dynasty to confer on him the title 'King of Nam Viet/Nanyue' (南越 in Chinese) after seizing power in Annam. The Emperor refused since the name was related to Zhao Tuo's Nanyue, which included the regions of Guangxi and Guangdong in southern China. The Qing Emperor, therefore, decided to call the area "Viet Nam" instead. [n 6] [16] Between 1804 and 1813, the name Vietnam was used officially by Emperor Gia Long. [n 6] It was revived in the early 20th century in Phan Bội Châu's History of the Loss of Vietnam , and later by the Vietnamese Nationalist Party (VNQDĐ). [17] The country was usually called Annam until 1945, when the imperial government in Huế adopted Việt Nam. [18]

History

Prehistory

A Dong Son bronze drum, c. 800 BC. DrumFromSongDaVietnamDongSonIICultureMid1stMilleniumBCEBronze.jpg
A Đông Sơn bronze drum, c.800 BC.

Archaeological excavations have revealed the existence of humans in what is now Vietnam as early as the Paleolithic age. Homo erectus fossils dating to around 500,000 BC have been found in caves in Lạng Sơn and Nghệ An provinces in northern Vietnam. [19] The oldest Homo sapiens fossils from mainland Southeast Asia are of Middle Pleistocene provenance, and include isolated tooth fragments from Tham Om and Hang Hum. [20] [21] [22] Teeth attributed to Homo sapiens from the Late Pleistocene have been found at Dong Can, [23] and from the Early Holocene at Mai Da Dieu, [24] [25] Lang Gao [26] [27] and Lang Cuom. [28] By about 1,000 BC, the development of wet-rice cultivation in the Ma River and Red River floodplains led to the flourishing of Đông Sơn culture, [29] [30] notable for its bronze casting used to make elaborate bronze Đông Sơn drums. [31] [32] [33] At this point, the early Vietnamese kingdoms of Văn Lang and Âu Lạc appeared, and the culture's influence spread to other parts of Southeast Asia, including Maritime Southeast Asia, throughout the first millennium BC. [32] [34]

Dynastic Vietnam

Territorial expansion of Vietnam, 1009-1840 Territorial expansion of Vietnam from Ly dynasty to Nguyen dynasty (1009-1834).gif
Territorial expansion of Vietnam, 1009–1840

The Hồng Bàng dynasty of the Hùng kings first established in 2879 BC is considered the first Vietnamese state in the History of Vietnam (then known as Xích Quỷ and later Văn Lang). [35] [36] In 257 BC, the last Hùng king was defeated by Thục Phán. He consolidated the Lạc Việt and Âu Việt tribes to form the Âu Lạc, proclaiming himself An Dương Vương. [37] In 179 BC, a Chinese general named Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương and consolidated Âu Lạc into Nanyue. [30] However, Nanyue was itself incorporated into the empire of the Chinese Han dynasty in 111 BC after the Han–Nanyue War. [16] [38] For the next thousand years, what is now northern Vietnam remained mostly under Chinese rule. [39] [40] Early independence movements, such as those of the Trưng Sisters and Lady Triệu, [41] were temporarily successful, [42] though the region gained a longer period of independence as Vạn Xuân under the Anterior Lý dynasty between AD 544 and 602. [43] [44] [45] By the early 10th century, Vietnam had gained autonomy, but not sovereignty, under the Khúc family. [46]

In AD 938, the Vietnamese lord Ngô Quyền defeated the forces of the Chinese Southern Han state at Bạch Đằng River and achieved full independence for Vietnam after a millennium of Chinese domination. [47] [48] [49] Renamed Đại Việt (Great Viet), the nation enjoyed a golden era under the Lý and Trần dynasties. During the rule of the Trần Dynasty, Đại Việt repelled three Mongol invasions. [50] [51] Meanwhile, the Mahāyāna branch of Buddhism flourished and became the state religion. [49] [52] Following the 1406–7 Ming–Hồ War, which overthrew the Hồ dynasty, Vietnamese independence was interrupted briefly by the Chinese Ming dynasty, but was restored by Lê Lợi, the founder of the Lê dynasty. [53] The Vietnamese dynasties reached their zenith in the Lê dynasty of the 15th century, especially during the reign of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông (1460–1497). [54] [55] Between the 11th and 18th centuries, Vietnam expanded southward in a process known as Nam tiến ("Southward expansion"), [56] eventually conquering the kingdom of Champa and part of the Khmer Kingdom. [57] [58] [59]

From the 16th century onward, civil strife and frequent political infighting engulfed much of Vietnam. First, the Chinese-supported Mạc dynasty challenged the Lê dynasty's power. [60] After the Mạc dynasty was defeated, the Lê dynasty was nominally reinstalled. Actual power, however, was divided between the northern Trịnh lords and the southern Nguyễn lords, who engaged in a civil war for more than four decades before a truce was called in the 1670s. [61] During this period, the Nguyễn expanded southern Vietnam into the Mekong Delta, annexing the Central Highlands and the Khmer lands in the Mekong Delta. [57] [59] [62] The division of the country ended a century later when the Tây Sơn brothers established a new dynasty. However, their rule did not last long, and they were defeated by the remnants of the Nguyễn lords, led by Nguyễn Ánh, aided by the French. [63] Nguyễn Ánh unified Vietnam, and established the Nguyễn dynasty, ruling under the name Gia Long. [62]

French Indochina

French Indochina circa 1930. French Indochina c. 1930.jpg
French Indochina circa 1930.

In the 1500s, the Portuguese became acquainted with the Vietnamese coast, where they reportedly erected a stele on the Chàm Islands to mark their presence. [64] By 1533, they began landing in the Vietnamese delta but were forced to leave because of local turmoil and fighting. They also had less interest in the territory than they did in China and Japan. [64] After having successfully settled Macau and Nagasaki to begin the profitable Macau-Japan trade route, the Portuguese began to involve themselves in trade with Hội An. [64] Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries under the Padroado system were active in both Vietnamese realms of Đàng Trong (Cochinchina or Quinan) and Đàng Ngoài (Tonkin) in the 17th century. [65] The Dutch also tried to establish contact with Quinan in 1601 but failed to sustain a presence there after several violent encounters with the locals. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) only managed to establish official relations with Tonkin in the spring of 1637 after leaving Dejima in Japan to establish trade for silk. [66] Meanwhile, in 1613, the first British attempt to establish contact with Hội An failed following a violent incident involving the British East India Company. By 1672 the British managed to establish relations with Tonkin and were allowed to reside in Phố Hiến. [67]

Between 1615 and 1753, French traders also engaged in trade in Vietnam. [68] [69] The first French missionaries arrived in Vietnam in 1658, under the Portuguese Padroado. From its foundation, the Paris Foreign Missions Society under Propaganda Fide actively sent missionaries to Vietnam, entering Cochinchina first in 1664 and Tonkin first in 1666. [70] Spanish Dominicans joined the Tonkin mission in 1676, and Franciscans were present in Cochinchina from 1719 to 1834. The Vietnamese authorities began[ when? ] to feel threatened by continuous Christianisation activities. [71] Following the detention of several missionaries, the French Navy received approval from their government to intervene in Vietnam in 1843, with the aim of freeing imprisoned Catholic missionaries from a kingdom that was perceived as xenophobic. [72] Vietnam's sovereignty was gradually eroded by France in a series of military conquests between 1859 and 1885. [73] At the Siege of Tourane in 1858, the French was aided by the Spanish and perhaps some Tonkinese Catholics. [74] After the 1862 Treaty and especially after the full conquest of Lower Cochinchina by France in 1867, the Văn Thân movement of scholar-gentry class arose and committed violence against Catholics across central and northern Vietnam. [75]

Between 1862 and 1867, the southern third of the country became the French colony of Cochinchina. [76] By 1884, the entire country had come under French rule, with the central and northern parts of Vietnam separated into the two protectorates of Annam and Tonkin. The three Vietnamese entities were formally integrated into the union of French Indochina in 1887. [77] [78] The French administration imposed significant political and cultural changes on Vietnamese society. [79] A Western-style system of modern education introduced new humanist values into Vietnam. [80] Most French settlers in Indochina were concentrated in Cochinchina, particularly in Saigon, and in Hanoi, the colony's capital. [81]

The Grand Palais built for the 1902-1903 world's fair as Hanoi became French Indochina's capital. ExpositionHanoi1902 GrandPalais (1).jpg
The Grand Palais built for the 1902–1903 world's fair as Hanoi became French Indochina's capital.

Guerrillas of the royalist Cần Vương movement massacred around a third of Vietnam's Christian population during the colonial period as part of their rebellion against French rule. [82] [83] They were defeated in the 1890s after a decade of resistance by the Catholics in reprisal for their earlier massacres. [84] [85] Another large-scale rebellion, the Thái Nguyên uprising, was also suppressed heavily. [86] The French developed a plantation economy to promote the export of tobacco, indigo, tea and coffee. [87] However, they largely ignored the increasing demands for civil rights and self-government.

Hanoi Opera House, taken in the early 20th century, from rue Paul Bert (now Trang Tien street). Hanoi Theatre.JPG
Hanoi Opera House, taken in the early 20th century, from rue Paul Bert (now Trang Tien street).

A nationalist political movement soon emerged, with leaders like Phan Bội Châu, Phan Châu Trinh, Phan Đình Phùng, Emperor Hàm Nghi, and Hồ Chí Minh fighting or calling for independence. [88] This resulted in the 1930 Yên Bái mutiny by the Vietnamese Nationalist Party (VNQDĐ), which the French quashed. The mutiny caused an irreparable split in the independence movement that resulted in many leading members of the organisation becoming communist converts. [89] [90] [91]

The French maintained full control over their colonies until World War II, when the war in the Pacific led to the Japanese invasion of French Indochina in 1940. Afterwards, the Japanese Empire was allowed to station its troops in Vietnam while permitting the pro-Vichy French colonial administration to continue. [92] [93] Japan exploited Vietnam's natural resources to support its military campaigns, culminating in a full-scale takeover of the country in March 1945. This led to the Vietnamese Famine of 1945, which resulted in up to two million deaths. [94] [95]

First Indochina War

Situation of the First Indochina War at the end of 1954.

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Areas under Viet Minh control
Areas under French control
Viet Minh guerrilla encampment / fighting First Indochina War map 1954 en.svg
Situation of the First Indochina War at the end of 1954.
  Areas under Việt Minh control
  Areas under French control
  Việt Minh guerrilla encampment / fighting

In 1941, the Việt Minh, a nationalist liberation movement based on a Communist ideology, emerged under the Vietnamese revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh. The Việt Minh sought independence for Vietnam from France and the end of the Japanese occupation. [96] [97] Following the military defeat of Japan and the fall of its puppet Empire of Vietnam in August 1945, anarchy, rioting, and murder were widespread, as Saigon's administrative services had collapsed. [98] The Việt Minh occupied Hanoi and proclaimed a provisional government, which asserted national independence on 2 September. [97]

In July 1945, the Allies had decided to divide Indochina at the 16th parallel to allow Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China to receive the Japanese surrender in the north while Britain's Lord Louis Mountbatten received their surrender in the south. The Allies agreed that Indochina still belonged to France. [99] [100]

But as the French were weakened by the German occupation, British-Indian forces and the remaining Japanese Southern Expeditionary Army Group were used to maintain order and to help France reestablish control through the 1945–1946 War in Vietnam. [101] Hồ initially chose to take a moderate stance to avoid military conflict with France, asking the French to withdraw their colonial administrators and for French professors and engineers to help build a modern independent Vietnam. [97] But the Provisional Government of the French Republic did not act on these requests, including the idea of independence, and dispatched the French Far East Expeditionary Corps to restore colonial rule. This resulted in the Việt Minh launching a guerrilla campaign against the French in late 1946. [96] [97] [102] The resulting First Indochina War lasted until July 1954. The defeat of French colonialists and Vietnamese loyalists in the 1954 battle of Điện Biên Phủ allowed Hồ to negotiate a ceasefire from a favourable position at the subsequent Geneva Conference. [97] [103]

Partition of French Indochina after the 1954 Geneva Conference French Indochina post partition.png
Partition of French Indochina after the 1954 Geneva Conference

The colonial administration was thereby ended and French Indochina was dissolved under the Geneva Accords of 1954 into three countries—Vietnam, and the kingdoms of Cambodia and Laos. Vietnam was further divided into North and South administrative regions at the Demilitarised Zone, roughly along the 17th parallel north, pending elections scheduled for July 1956. [n 7] A 300-day period of free movement was permitted, during which almost a million northerners, mainly Catholics, moved south, fearing persecution by the communists. This migration was in large part aided by the United States military through Operation Passage to Freedom. [108] [109] The partition of Vietnam by the Geneva Accords was not intended to be permanent, and stipulated that Vietnam would be reunited after the elections. [110] But in 1955, the southern State of Vietnam's prime minister, Ngô Đình Diệm, toppled Bảo Đại in a fraudulent referendum organised by his brother Ngô Đình Nhu, and proclaimed himself president of the Republic of Vietnam. [110] At that point the internationally recognised State of Vietnam effectively ceased to exist and was replaced by the Republic of Vietnam in the south—supported by the United States, France, Laos, Republic of China and Thailand—and Hồ's Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north, supported by the Soviet Union, Sweden, [111] Khmer Rouge, and the People's Republic of China. [110]

Vietnam War

Between 1953 and 1956, the North Vietnamese government instituted various agrarian reforms, including "rent reduction" and "land reform", which resulted in significant political repression. [112] During the land reform, testimony from North Vietnamese witnesses suggested a ratio of one execution for every 160 village residents, which extrapolated nationwide would indicate nearly 100,000 executions. [113] Because the campaign was concentrated mainly in the Red River Delta area, a lower estimate of 50,000 executions became widely accepted by scholars at the time, [113] [114] but declassified documents from the Vietnamese and Hungarian archives indicate that the number of executions was much lower, although likely greater than 13,500. [115] In the South, Diệm countered North Vietnamese subversion (including the assassination of over 450 South Vietnamese officials in 1956) by detaining tens of thousands of suspected communists in "political reeducation centres". [116] [117] This program incarcerated many non-communists, but was successful at curtailing communist activity in the country, if only for a time. [118] The North Vietnamese government claimed that 2,148 people were killed in the process by November 1957. [119] The pro-Hanoi Việt Cộng began a guerrilla campaign in South Vietnam in the late 1950s to overthrow Diệm's government. [120] From 1960, the Soviet Union and North Vietnam signed treaties providing for further Soviet military support. [121] [122] [123]

Three US Fairchild UC-123B aircraft spraying Agent Orange during the Operation Ranch Hand as part of the overall herbicidal warfare operation called Trail Dust with the aim to deprive the food and vegetation cover of the Viet Cong, c. 1962-1971. Agent Orange Cropdusting.jpg
Three US Fairchild UC-123B aircraft spraying Agent Orange during the Operation Ranch Hand as part of the overall herbicidal warfare operation called Trail Dust with the aim to deprive the food and vegetation cover of the Việt Cộng, c.1962–1971.

In 1963, Buddhist discontent with Diệm's Catholic regime erupted into mass demonstrations, leading to a violent government crackdown. [124] This led to the collapse of Diệm's relationship with the United States, and ultimately to a 1963 coup in which he and Nhu were assassinated. [125] The Diệm era was followed by more than a dozen successive military governments, before the pairing of Air Marshal Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu took control in mid-1965. [126] Thiệu gradually outmaneuvered Kỳ and cemented his grip on power in fraudulent elections in 1967 and 1971. [127] During this political instability, the communists began to gain ground. To support South Vietnam's struggle against the communist insurgency, the United States began increasing its contribution of military advisers, using the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident as a pretext for such intervention. [128] US forces became involved in ground combat operations by 1965, and at their peak several years later, numbered more than 500,000. [129] [130] The US also engaged in a sustained aerial bombing campaign. Meanwhile, China and the Soviet Union provided North Vietnam with significant materiel aid and 15,000 combat advisers. [121] [122] [131] Communist forces supplying the Việt Cộng carried supplies along the Hồ Chí Minh trail, which passed through Laos. [132]

The communists attacked South Vietnamese targets during the 1968 Tết Offensive. The campaign failed militarily, but shocked the American establishment and turned US public opinion against the war. [133] During the offensive, communist troops massacred over 3,000 civilians at Huế. [134] [135] A 1974 US Senate subcommittee estimated nearly 1.4 million Vietnamese civilians were killed or wounded between 1965 and 1974—over half as the result of US and South Vietnamese military actions. [136] Facing an increasing casualty count, rising domestic opposition to the war, and growing international condemnation, the US began withdrawing from ground combat roles in the early 1970s. This also entailed an unsuccessful effort to strengthen and stabilise South Vietnam. [137] Following the Paris Peace Accords of 27 January 1973, all American combat troops were withdrawn by 29 March 1973. [138] In December 1974, North Vietnam captured the province of Phước Long and started a full-scale offensive, culminating in the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. [139] South Vietnam was ruled by a provisional government for almost eight years while under North Vietnamese military occupation. [140]

Reunification and reforms

On 2 July 1976, North and South Vietnam were merged to form the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam. [141] The war left Vietnam devastated, with the total death toll between 966,000 and 3.8 million. [142] [143] [144] In its aftermath, under Lê Duẩn's administration, there were no mass executions of South Vietnamese who had collaborated with the US or the defunct South Vietnamese government, confounding Western fears, [145] but up to 300,000 South Vietnamese were sent to reeducation camps, where many endured torture, starvation, and disease while being forced to perform hard labour. [146] The government embarked on a mass campaign of collectivisation of farms and factories. [147] In 1978, in response to the Khmer Rouge government of Cambodia ordering massacres of Vietnamese residents in the border villages in the districts of An Giang and Kiên Giang, [148] the Vietnamese military invaded Cambodia and removed them from power after occupying Phnom Penh. [149] The intervention was a success, resulting in the establishment of a new, pro-Vietnam socialist government, the People's Republic of Kampuchea, which ruled until 1989. [150] This, however, worsened relations with China, which had supported the Khmer Rouge. China later launched a brief incursion into northern Vietnam in 1979, causing Vietnam to rely even more heavily on Soviet economic and military aid, while mistrust of the Chinese government began to escalate. [151]

At the Sixth National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) in December 1986, reformist politicians replaced the "old guard" government with new leadership. [152] [153] The reformers were led by 71-year-old Nguyễn Văn Linh, who became the party's new general secretary. [152] He and the reformers implemented a series of free-market reforms known as Đổi Mới ("Renovation") that carefully managed the transition from a planned economy to a "socialist-oriented market economy". [154] [155] Though the authority of the state remained unchallenged under Đổi Mới, the government encouraged private ownership of farms and factories, economic deregulation, and foreign investment, while maintaining control over strategic industries. [155] [156] The Vietnamese economy subsequently achieved strong growth in agricultural and industrial production, construction, exports, and foreign investment, although these reforms also caused a rise in income inequality and gender disparities. [157] [158] [159]

Geography

Nature attractions in Vietnam, clockwise from top: Ha Long Bay, Yen River and Ban-Gioc Waterfalls Geography of Vietnam.jpg
Nature attractions in Vietnam, clockwise from top: Hạ Long Bay, Yến River and Bản-Giốc Waterfalls

Vietnam is located on the eastern Indochinese Peninsula between the latitudes and 24°N, and the longitudes 102° and 110°E. It covers a total area of approximately 331,212 km2 (127,882 sq mi). [n 8] The combined length of the country's land boundaries is 4,639 km (2,883 mi), and its coastline is 3,444 km (2,140 mi) long. [160] At its narrowest point in the central Quảng Bình Province, the country is as little as 50 kilometres (31 mi) across, though it widens to around 600 kilometres (370 mi) in the north. [161] Vietnam's land is mostly hilly and densely forested, with level land covering no more than 20%. Mountains account for 40% of the country's land area, [162] and tropical forests cover around 42%. [163] The Red River Delta in the north, a flat, roughly triangular region covering 15,000 km2 (5,792 sq mi), [164] is smaller but more intensely developed and more densely populated than the Mekong River Delta in the south. Once an inlet of the Gulf of Tonkin, it has been filled in over the millennia by riverine alluvial deposits. [165] [166] The delta, covering about 40,000 km2 (15,444 sq mi), is a low-level plain no more than 3 metres (9.8 ft) above sea level at any point. It is criss-crossed by a maze of rivers and canals, which carry so much sediment that the delta advances 60 to 80 metres (196.9 to 262.5 ft) into the sea every year. [167] [168] The exclusive economic zone of Vietnam covers 417,663 km2 (161,261 sq mi) in the South China Sea. [169]

Hoang Lien Son mountain range, a part of the Fansipan which is the highest summit on the Indochinese Peninsula. I'm coming, PXP.jpg
Hoàng Liên Sơn mountain range, a part of the Fansipan which is the highest summit on the Indochinese Peninsula.

Southern Vietnam is divided into coastal lowlands, the mountains of the Annamite Range, and extensive forests. Comprising five relatively flat plateaus of basalt soil, the highlands account for 16% of the country's arable land and 22% of its total forested land. [170] The soil in much of the southern part of Vietnam is relatively low in nutrients as a result of intense cultivation. [171] Several minor earthquakes have been recorded in the past. Most have occurred near the northern Vietnamese border in the provinces of Điện Biên, Lào Cai and Sơn La, while some have been recorded offshore of the central part of the country. [172] [173] The northern part of the country consists mostly of highlands and the Red River Delta. Fansipan (also known as Phan Xi Păng), which is located in Lào Cai Province, is the highest mountain in Vietnam, standing 3,143 m (10,312 ft) high. [174] From north to south Vietnam, the country also has numerous islands; Phú Quốc is the largest. [175] The Hang Sơn Đoòng Cave is considered the largest known cave passage in the world since its discovery in 2009. The Ba Bể Lake and Mekong River are the largest lake and longest river in the country. [176] [177] [178]

Climate

Koppen climate classification map of Vietnam. Koppen-Geiger Map VNM present.svg
Köppen climate classification map of Vietnam.
Nha Trang, a popular beach destination has a tropical savanna climate. Nha Trang skyline.jpg
Nha Trang, a popular beach destination has a tropical savanna climate.

Due to differences in latitude and the marked variety in topographical relief, Vietnam's climate tends to vary considerably for each region. [179] During the winter or dry season, extending roughly from November to April, the monsoon winds usually blow from the northeast along the Chinese coast and across the Gulf of Tonkin, picking up considerable moisture. [180] The average annual temperature is generally higher in the plains than in the mountains, especially in southern Vietnam compared to the north. Temperatures vary less in the southern plains around Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, ranging from between 21 and 35 °C (69.8 and 95.0 °F) over the year. [181] In Hanoi and the surrounding areas of Red River Delta, the temperatures are much lower between 15 and 33 °C (59.0 and 91.4 °F). [181] Seasonal variations in the mountains, plateaus, and the northernmost areas are much more dramatic, with temperatures varying from 3 °C (37.4 °F) in December and January to 37 °C (98.6 °F) in July and August. [182] Vietnam receives high rates of precipitation in the form of rainfall with an average amount from 1,500 mm (59 in) to 2,000 mm (79 in) during the monsoon seasons; this often causes flooding, especially in the cities with poor drainage systems. [183] The country is also affected by tropical depressions, tropical storms and typhoons. [183] Vietnam is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, with 55% of its population living in low-elevation coastal areas. [184] [185]

Biodiversity

Native species in Vietnam, clockwise from top-right: crested argus, a peafowl, red-shanked douc, Indochinese leopard, saola. Wildlife of Vietnam.jpg
Native species in Vietnam, clockwise from top-right: crested argus, a peafowl, red-shanked douc, Indochinese leopard, saola.

As the country is located within the Indomalayan realm, Vietnam is one of twenty-five countries considered to possess a uniquely high level of biodiversity. This was noted in the country's National Environmental Condition Report in 2005. [186] 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. Vietnam's fauna includes: 307 nematode species, 200 oligochaeta, 145 acarina, 113 springtails, 7,750 insects, 260 reptiles, and 120 amphibians. 840 birds and 310 mammals are found in Vietnam, of which 100 birds and 78 mammals are endemic. [186] Vietnam has two World Natural Heritage Sites, the Hạ Long Bay and Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park together with nine biosphere reserves including: Cần Giờ Mangrove Forest, Cát Tiên, Cát Bà, Kiên Giang, the Red River Delta, Mekong Delta, Western Nghệ An, Cà Mau and Cu Lao Cham Marine Park. [187] [188] [189]

The pink lotus, widely regarded by the Vietnamese as the national flower of the country, symbolises beauty, commitment, health, honour and knowledge. Lotus flower (978659).jpg
The pink lotus, widely regarded by the Vietnamese as the national flower of the country, symbolises beauty, commitment, health, honour and knowledge.

Vietnam is also home to 1,438 species of freshwater microalgae, constituting 9.6% of all microalgae species, as well as 794 aquatic invertebrates and 2,458 species of sea fish. [186] In recent years, 13 genera, 222 species, and 30 taxa of flora have been newly described in Vietnam. [186] 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. [193] 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. [194] In agricultural genetic diversity, Vietnam is one of the world's twelve original cultivar centres. The Vietnam National Cultivar Gene Bank preserves 12,300 cultivars of 115 species. [186] The Vietnamese government spent US$49.07 million on the preservation of biodiversity in 2004 alone and has established 126 conservation areas, including 30 national parks. [186]

Environment

Sa Pa mountain hills with agricultural activities Sa Pa mountain hills with agricultural activities.jpg
Sa Pa mountain hills with agricultural activities

In Vietnam, wildlife poaching has become a major concern. In 2000, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Education for Nature – Vietnam was founded to instill in the population the importance of wildlife conservation in the country. [195] In the years that followed, another NGO called GreenViet was formed by Vietnamese youngsters for the enforcement of wildlife protection. Through collaboration between the NGOs and local authorities, many local poaching syndicates were crippled by their leaders' arrests. [195] A study released in 2018 revealed Vietnam is a destination for the illegal export of rhinoceros horns from South Africa due to the demand for them as a medicine and a status symbol. [196] [197]

The main environmental concern that persists in Vietnam today is the legacy of the use of the chemical herbicide Agent Orange, which continues to cause birth defects and many health problems in the Vietnamese population. In the southern and central areas affected most by the chemical's use during the Vietnam War, nearly 4.8 million Vietnamese people have been exposed to it and suffered from its effects. [198] [199] [200] In 2012, approximately 50 years after the war, [201] the US began a US$43 million joint clean-up project in the former chemical storage areas in Vietnam to take place in stages. [199] [202] Following the completion of the first phase in Đà Nẵng in late 2017, [203] the US announced its commitment to clean other sites, especially in the heavily impacted site of Biên Hòa, which is four times larger than the previously treated site, at an estimated cost of $390 million. [204]

Natural fog in northwest Vietnam (Tay Bac). Fog in Tay Bac.jpg
Natural fog in northwest Vietnam (Tây Bắc).

The Vietnamese government spends over VNĐ10 trillion each year ($431.1 million) for monthly allowances and the physical rehabilitation of victims of the chemicals. [205] In 2018, the Japanese engineering group Shimizu Corporation, working with Vietnamese military, built a plant for the treatment of soil polluted by Agent Orange. Plant construction costs were funded by the company itself. [206] [207] One of the long-term plans to restore southern Vietnam's damaged ecosystems is through the use of reforestation efforts. The Vietnamese government began doing this at the end of the war. It started by replanting mangrove forests in the Mekong Delta regions and in Cần Giờ outside Hồ Chí Minh City, where mangroves are important to ease (though not eliminate) flood conditions during monsoon seasons. [208]

Apart from herbicide problems, arsenic in the ground water in the Mekong and Red River Deltas has also become a major concern. [209] [210] And most notoriously, unexploded ordnances (UXO) pose dangers to humans and wildlife—another bitter legacy from the long wars. [211] As part of the continuous campaign to demine/remove UXOs, several international bomb removal agencies from the United Kingdom, [212] Denmark, [213] South Korea [214] and the US [215] have been providing assistance. The Vietnam government spends over VNĐ1 trillion ($44 million) annually on demining operations and additional hundreds of billions of đồng for treatment, assistance, rehabilitation, vocational training and resettlement of the victims of UXOs. [216] In 2017 the Chinese government also removed 53,000 land mines and explosives left over from the war between the two countries, in an area of 18.4 km2 (7.1 sq mi) in the Chinese province of Yunnan bordering the China–Vietnam border. [217]

Halong Bay panorama.jpg
Panoramic view of Hạ Long Bay

Government and politics

Political Structure in Vietnam Political Structure in Vietnam.png
Political Structure in Vietnam
Government Structure in Vietnam Government Structure in Vietnam.png
Government Structure in Vietnam

Vietnam is a unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic, one of the two communist states (the other being Laos) in Southeast Asia. [218] Although Vietnam remains officially committed to socialism as its defining creed, its economic policies have grown increasingly capitalist, [219] [220] with The Economist characterising its leadership as "ardently capitalist communists". [221] Under the constitution, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) asserts their role in all branches of the country's politics and society. [218] The president is the elected head of state and the commander-in-chief of the military, serving as the chairman of the Council of Supreme Defence and Security, and holds the second highest office in Vietnam as well as performing executive functions and state appointments and setting policy. [218]

The general secretary of the CPV performs numerous key administrative functions, controlling the party's national organisation. [218] The prime minister is the head of government, presiding over a council of ministers composed of five deputy prime ministers and the heads of 26 ministries and commissions. Only political organisations affiliated with or endorsed by the CPV are permitted to contest elections in Vietnam. These include the Vietnamese Fatherland Front and worker and trade unionist parties. [218]

The National Assembly of Vietnam building in Hanoi National Assembly of Vietnam.JPG
The National Assembly of Vietnam building in Hanoi

The National Assembly of Vietnam is the unicameral state legislature composed of 498 members. [222] Headed by a chairman, it is superior to both the executive and judicial branches, with all government ministers being appointed from members of the National Assembly. [218] The Supreme People's Court of Vietnam, headed by a chief justice, is the country's highest court of appeal, though it is also answerable to the National Assembly. Beneath the Supreme People's Court stand the provincial municipal courts and many local courts. Military courts possess special jurisdiction in matters of national security. Vietnam maintains the death penalty for numerous offences. [223]

Foreign relations

Tran Dai Quang and Vladimir Putin, 2016-01.jpg
President Trần Đại Quang with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 19 November 2016.
Secretary Tillerson Joins Commercial Deals Signing Ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Vietnam (38322247422).jpg
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accompanies US President Donald Trump to a commercial deal signing ceremony with Vietnamese President on 12 November 2017.

Throughout its history, Vietnam's main foreign relationship has been with various Chinese dynasties. [224] Following the partition of Vietnam in 1954, North Vietnam maintained relations with the Eastern Bloc, South Vietnam maintained relations with the Western Bloc. [224] Despite these differences, Vietnam's sovereign principles and insistence on cultural independence have been laid down in numerous documents over the centuries before its independence. These include the 11th-century patriotic poem " Nam quốc sơn hà " and the 1428 proclamation of independence " Bình Ngô đại cáo ". Though China and Vietnam are now formally at peace, [224] significant territorial tensions remain between the two countries over the South China Sea. [225] Vietnam holds membership in 63 international organisations, including the United Nations (UN), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), International Organisation of the Francophonie (La Francophonie), and World Trade Organization (WTO). It also maintains relations with over 650 non-governmental organisations. [226] As of 2010 Vietnam had established diplomatic relations with 178 countries. [227]

Vietnam's current foreign policy is to consistently implement a policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, co-operation, and development, as well openness and diversification/multilateralisation with international relations. [228] [229] The country declares itself a friend and partner of all countries in the international community, regardless of their political affiliation, by actively taking part in international and regional cooperative development projects. [155] [228] Since the 1990s, Vietnam has taken several key steps to restore diplomatic ties with Western countries. [230] Relations with the United States began improving in August 1995 with both nations upgrading their liaison offices to embassy status. [231] As diplomatic ties between the two nations grew, the United States opened a consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City while Vietnam opened its consulate in San Francisco. Full diplomatic relations were also restored with New Zealand, which opened its embassy in Hanoi in 1995; [232] Vietnam established an embassy in Wellington in 2003. [233] Pakistan also reopened its embassy in Hanoi in October 2000, with Vietnam reopening its embassy in Islamabad in December 2005 and trade office in Karachi in November 2005. [234] [235] In May 2016, US President Barack Obama further normalised relations with Vietnam after he announced the lifting of an arms embargo on sales of lethal arms to Vietnam. [236]

Military

Examples of the Vietnam People's Armed Forces weaponry assets. Clockwise from top right: T-54B tank, Sukhoi Su-27UBK fighter aircraft, Vietnam Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutter, and Vietnam People's Army chemical corps with Type 56. Vietnam People's Armed Forces.jpg
Examples of the Vietnam People's Armed Forces weaponry assets. Clockwise from top right: T-54B tank, Sukhoi Su-27UBK fighter aircraft, Vietnam Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutter, and Vietnam People's Army chemical corps with Type 56.

The Vietnam People's Armed Forces consists of the Vietnam People's Army (VPA), the Vietnam People's Public Security and the Vietnam Civil Defence Force. The VPA is the official name for the active military services of Vietnam, and is subdivided into the Vietnam People's Ground Forces, the Vietnam People's Navy, the Vietnam People's Air Force, the Vietnam Border Defence Force and the Vietnam Coast Guard. The VPA has an active manpower of around 450,000, but its total strength, including paramilitary forces, may be as high as 5,000,000. [237] In 2015, Vietnam's military expenditure totalled approximately US$4.4 billion, equivalent to around 8% of its total government spending. [238] Joint military exercises and war games have been held with Brunei, [239] India, [240] Japan, [241] Laos, [242] Russia, [243] Singapore [239] and the US. [244] In 2017, Vietnam signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. [245] [246]

Administrative divisions

Vietnam is divided into 58 provinces (Vietnamese: tỉnh, from the Chinese , shěng). [247] There are also five municipalities (thành phố trực thuộc trung ương), which are administratively on the same level as provinces.

A Communist Party propaganda poster in Hanoi Tay Ho Communist propaganda posters in 2015 11.jpg
A Communist Party propaganda poster in Hanoi

The provinces are subdivided into provincial municipalities (thành phố trực thuộc tỉnh), townships (thị xã) and counties (huyện), which are in turn subdivided into towns (thị trấn) or communes (). The centrally controlled municipalities are subdivided into districts (quận) and counties, which are further subdivided into wards (phường).

Human rights and sociopolitical issues

Under the current constitution, the CPV is the only party allowed to rule, the operation of all other political parties being outlawed. Other human rights issues concern freedom of association, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. In 2009, Vietnamese lawyer Lê Công Định was arrested and charged with the capital crime of subversion; several of his associates were also arrested. [248] [249] Amnesty International described him and his arrested associates as prisoners of conscience. [248]

Vietnam is predominantly a source country for trafficked persons who are exploited for labour. [250] A number of citizens, primarily women and girls, from all ethnic groups in Vietnam and foreigners have been victims of sex trafficking in Vietnam. [251] [252]

Economy

Share of world GDP (PPP) [6]
YearShare
19800.18%
19900.23%
20000.32%
20100.43%
20180.52%
Tree map showing Vietnam's exports in 2012 Viet Nam Export Treemap.png
Tree map showing Vietnam's exports in 2012

Throughout the history of Vietnam, its economy has been based largely on agriculture—primarily wet rice cultivation. [253] Bauxite, an important material in the production of aluminium, is mined in central Vietnam. [254] Since reunification, the country's economy is shaped primarily by the CPV through Five Year Plans decided upon at the plenary sessions of the Central Committee and national congresses. [255] The collectivisation of farms, factories, and capital goods was carried out as part of the establishment of central planning, with millions of people working for state enterprises. Under strict state control, Vietnam's economy continued to be plagued by inefficiency, corruption in state-owned enterprises, poor quality and underproduction. [256] [257] [258] With the decline in economic aid from its main trading partner, the Soviet Union, following the erosion of the Eastern bloc in the late 1980s, and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as the negative impacts of the post-war trade embargo imposed by the United States, [259] [260] Vietnam began to liberalise its trade by devaluing its exchange rate to increase exports and embarked on a policy of economic development. [261]

Vietnam's tallest skyscraper, the Landmark 81 located in Binh Thanh, Ho Chi Minh City. The Landmark 81 at night.jpg
Vietnam's tallest skyscraper, the Landmark 81 located in Bình Thạnh, Ho Chi Minh City.

In 1986, the Sixth National Congress of the CPV introduced socialist-oriented market economic reforms as part of the Đổi Mới reform program. Private ownership began to be encouraged in industry, commerce and agriculture and state enterprises were restructured to operate under market constraints. [262] [263] This led to the five-year economic plans being replaced by the socialist-oriented market mechanism. [264] As a result of these reforms, Vietnam achieved approximately 8% annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth between 1990 and 1997. [265] [266] The United States ended its economic embargo against Vietnam in early 1994. [267] Despite the 1997 Asian financial crisis affecting Vietnam by causing an economic slowdown to 4–5% growth per annum, its economy began to recover in 1999, [262] with growth at an annual rate of around 7% from 2000 to 2005 making it one of the world's fastest growing economies. [268] [269] According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO), growth remained strong even in the face of the late-2000s global recession, holding at 6.8% in 2010, although Vietnam's year-on-year inflation rate hit 11.8% in December 2010 with the country's currency, the Vietnamese đồng being devalued three times. [270] [271]

VinFast company is a Vietnamese car manufacturer. Vinfast, mo hinh SUV Lux SA2.0 .jpg
VinFast company is a Vietnamese car manufacturer.

Deep poverty, defined as the percentage of the population living on less than $1 per day, has declined significantly in Vietnam and the relative poverty rate is now less than that of China, India and the Philippines. [272] This decline can be attributed to equitable economic policies aimed at improving living standards and preventing the rise of inequality. [273] These policies have included egalitarian land distribution during the initial stages of the Đổi Mới program, investment in poorer remote areas, and subsidising of education and healthcare. [274] [275] Since the early 2000s, Vietnam has applied sequenced trade liberalisation, a two-track approach opening some sectors of the economy to international markets. [273] [276] Manufacturing, information technology and high-tech industries now form a large and fast-growing part of the national economy. Though Vietnam is a relative newcomer to the oil industry, it is currently the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia with a total 2011 output of 318,000 barrels per day (50,600 m3/d). [277] In 2010, Vietnam was ranked as the eighth-largest crude petroleum producer in the Asia and Pacific region. [278] The United States purchased the highest amount of Vietnam's exports, [279] while goods from China were the most popular Vietnamese import. [280]

According to a December 2005 forecast by Goldman Sachs, the Vietnamese economy will become the world's 21st-largest by 2025, [281] with an estimated nominal GDP of $436 billion and a nominal GDP per capita of $4,357. [282] Based on findings by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2012, the unemployment rate in Vietnam stood at 4.46%. [6] That same year, Vietnam's nominal GDP reached US$138 billion, with a nominal GDP per capita of $1,527. [6] The HSBC also predicted that Vietnam's total GDP would surpass those of Norway, Singapore and Portugal by 2050. [282] [283] Another forecast by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2008 stated Vietnam could be the fastest-growing of the world's emerging economies by 2025, with a potential growth rate of almost 10% per annum in real dollar terms. [284] Apart from the primary sector economy, tourism has contributed significantly to Vietnam's economic growth with 7.94 million foreign visitors recorded in 2015. [285]

Agriculture

Terraced rice fields in Sa Pa Terraced fields Sa Pa 3.jpg
Terraced rice fields in Sa Pa

As a result of several land reform measures, Vietnam has become a major exporter of agricultural products. It is now the world's largest producer of cashew nuts, with a one-third global share; [286] the largest producer of black pepper, accounting for one-third of the world's market; [287] and the second-largest rice exporter in the world after Thailand since the 1990s. [288] Subsequently, Vietnam is also the world's second largest exporter of coffee. [289] The country has the highest proportion of land use for permanent crops together with other nations in the Greater Mekong Subregion. [290] Other primary exports include tea, rubber and fishery products. Agriculture's share of Vietnam's GDP has fallen in recent decades, declining from 42% in 1989 to 20% in 2006 as production in other sectors of the economy has risen.

Science and technology

A Vietnamese-made TOPIO 3.0 humanoid ping-pong-playing robot displayed during the 2009 International Robot Exhibition (IREX) in Tokyo. TOPIO 3.jpg
A Vietnamese-made TOPIO 3.0 humanoid ping-pong-playing robot displayed during the 2009 International Robot Exhibition (IREX) in Tokyo.

In 2010, Vietnam's total state spending on science and technology amounted to roughly 0.45% of its GDP. [293] Since the dynastic era, Vietnamese scholars have developed many academic fields especially in social sciences and humanities. Vietnam has a millennium-deep legacy of analytical histories, such as the Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư of Ngô Sĩ Liên. Vietnamese monks, led by the abdicated Emperor Trần Nhân Tông, developed the Trúc Lâm Zen branch of philosophy in the 13th century. [294] Arithmetic and geometry have been widely taught in Vietnam since the 15th century, using the textbook Đại thành toán pháp by Lương Thế Vinh. Lương Thế Vinh introduced Vietnam to the notion of zero, while Mạc Hiển Tích used the term số ẩn (Eng: "unknown/secret/hidden number") to refer to negative numbers. Furthermore, Vietnamese scholars produced numerous encyclopaedias, such as Lê Quý Đôn's Vân đài loại ngữ.

In modern times, Vietnamese scientists have made many significant contributions in various fields of study, most notably in mathematics. Hoàng Tụy pioneered the applied mathematics field of global optimisation in the 20th century, [295] while Ngô Bảo Châu won the 2010 Fields Medal for his proof of fundamental lemma in the theory of automorphic forms. [296] [297] Since the establishment of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) by the government in 1975, the country is working to develop its first national space flight program especially after the completion of the infrastructure at the Vietnam Space Centre (VSC) in 2018. [298] [299] Vietnam has also made significant advances in the development of robots, such as the TOPIO humanoid model. [291] [292] One of Vietnam's main messaging apps, Zalo, was developed by Vương Quang Khải, a Vietnamese hacker who later worked with the country's largest information technology service company, the FPT Group. [300]

Vietnamese science students working on an experiment in their university lab. Svhutech nckh4.jpg
Vietnamese science students working on an experiment in their university lab.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Vietnam devoted 0.19% of its GDP to science research and development in 2011. [301] Between 2005 and 2014, the number of Vietnamese scientific publications recorded in Thomson Reuters' Web of Science increased at a rate well above the average for Southeast Asia, albeit from a modest starting point. [302] Publications focus mainly on life sciences (22%), physics (13%) and engineering (13%), which is consistent with recent advances in the production of diagnostic equipment and shipbuilding. [302] Almost 77% of all papers published between 2008 and 2014 had at least one international co-author. The autonomy which Vietnamese research centres have enjoyed since the mid-1990s has enabled many of them to operate as quasi-private organisations, providing services such as consulting and technology development. [302] Some have 'spun off' from the larger institutions to form their own semi-private enterprises, fostering the transfer of public sector science