This article provides an overview of Vietnam for those keen on exploring the possibility of living and working there. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
- Official name: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
- Capital: Hanoi
- Geography: 63 provinces and municipalities
- Land area (2019): 331,236 sq km
- Population (2019) 96.484 million persons
- Head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc
- National language: Vietnamese
- Currency: Viet Nam Dong (VND)
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (2019): 6,037.3 trillion VND
- GDP per capita (2019): 62.6 million VND
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.
The population of Vietnam reached almost 96.5 million persons in 2019. The urban population accounted for 35 percent (33.8 million persons) while the rural population accounted for 65 percent (62.7 million persons). Around 49.8 percent (48 million persons) were male, while 50.2 percent (48.5 million persons) were female. The labour force aged 15 and above nationwide was estimated at 55.8 million persons. In 2019, the population in the provinces was 22.6 million in the Red River Delta; 12.6 million in the Northern Midlands and mountain areas; 20.2 million in the North Central and Central coastal areas; 5.9 million in the Central Highlands; 17.9 million in the South East; and 17.3 million in the Mekong River Delta. Currently, there are 54 different ethnic groups living in Vietnam. The Kinh (Viet) people make up nearly 90 percent of the whole population while the other 53 ethnic groups make up over 10 percent.
In 2019, the service sector accounted for 41.64 percent of the economy while the industry and construction sector comprised 34.49 percent. The agriculture, forestry and fishery sector made up 13.96 percent and the taxes on products (less subsidies) contributed 9.91 percent.
Some key industries in Vietnam include infrastructure, manufacturing, retail, and food and agriculture. To support its fast-growing economy, Vietnam increased its infrastructural projects, whose financing had traditionally relied on international developmental aid. Now, the financing model is moving towards public-private partnerships (PPPs) that operate under contracts modelled after standard international project agreements. The government is also reforming and equitising State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), thereby opening up certain industries traditionally monopolised by SOEs to the private sector.
Prominent manufacturing sectors in Vietnam include textile, garments, furniture and electronics and are primarily located in Southeast Vietnam and the Red River Delta in the northeast. While Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have been important industrial centres, other provinces such as Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Hai Phong and Bac Ninh are also seeing an increased MNC presence. Renowned international firms such as Samsung Electronics, Intel and Siemens have also set up factories in the country.
The rising disposable incomes and growing consumer brand awareness has led to a demand for retail products among the Vietnamese. Demand for imported consumer goods and services is still concentrated in larger cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi where incomes are considerably higher than the national average.
Tourism contributes greatly to Vietnam’s economic growth. It was voted as “Asia’s leading destination” by the World Travel Awards (WTA) in 2019. The popular destinations include Ha Long Bay in north Quang Ninh province, Phu Quoc island in southern Kien Giang province and Nha Trang in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa. Vietnam offers various kinds of attractions ranging from cultural tourism, sea tourism, natural and ecological tourism as well as sports and recreation tourism. In 2019, Vietnam received more than 18 million foreign visitors, an increase of 16.2 percent from the previous year.