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total: 329,560 sq km
land: 325,360 sq km
water: 4,200 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than New Mexico

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

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

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

Population: 76,236,259 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 35% (male 13,570,312; female 12,796,687)
15-64 years: 60% (male 22,222,286; female 23,621,122)
65 years and over: 5% (male 1,613,103; female 2,412,749) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.43% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 21.55 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 6.69 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 36.02 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.74 years
male: 65.37 years
female: 70.25 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.5 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: Vietnamese 85%-90%, Chinese 3%, Muong, Tai, Meo, Khmer, Man, Cham

Religions: Buddhist, Taoist, Roman Catholic, indigenous beliefs, Islam, Protestant, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao

Languages: Vietnamese (official), Chinese, English, French, Khmer, tribal languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.7%
male: 96.5%
female: 91.2% (1995 est.)

National captitol:  Hanoi

Independence: 2 September 1945 (from France)

Constitution: 15 April 1992

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders: only party—Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), Le Kha PHIEU, general secretary

Economy—overview: Vietnam is a poor, densely populated country that has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally planned economy. Substantial progress has been achieved over the past 10 years in moving forward from an extremely low starting point. Economic growth continued at a strong pace during 1997 with industrial output rising by 12% and real GDP expanding by 8.5%. These positive numbers, however, masked some major difficulties that are emerging in economic performance. Many domestic industries, including coal, cement, steel, and paper, reported large stockpiles of inventory and tough competition from more efficient foreign producers, giving Vietnam a trade deficit of $3.3 billion in 1997. While disbursements of aid and foreign direct investment have risen, they are not large enough to finance the rapid increase in imports; and it is widely believed that Vietnam may be using short-term trade credits to bridge the gap—a risky strategy that could result in a foreign exchange crunch. Meanwhile, Vietnamese authorities continue to move slowly toward implementing the structural reforms needed to revitalize the economy and produce more competitive, export-driven industries. Privatization of state enterprises remains bogged down in political controversy, while the country's dynamic private sector is denied both financing and access to markets. Reform of the banking sector is proceeding slowly, raising concerns that the country will be unable to tap sufficient domestic savings to maintain current high levels of growth. Administrative and legal barriers are also causing costly delays for foreign investors and are raising similar doubts about Vietnam's ability to maintain the inflow of foreign capital. Ideological bias in favor of state intervention and control of the economy is slowing progress toward a more liberalized investment environment.

GDP—real growth rate: 8.5% (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 28%
industry: 30%
services: 42% (1996 est.)

Agriculture—products: paddy rice, corn, potatoes, rubber, soybeans, coffee, tea, bananas; poultry, pigs; fish

total value: $7.1 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes
partners: Japan, Germany, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, France, South Korea

total value: $11.1 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products, raw cotton, grain, cement, motorcycles
partners: Singapore, South Korea, Japan, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan

Debt—external: $7.3 billion Western countries; $4.5 billion CEMA debts primarily to Russia; $9 billion to $18 billion
nonconvertible debt (former CEMA, Iraq, Iran)

Currency: 1 new dong (D) = 100 xu 

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 19,818,187 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 12,519,072 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $544 million (1995)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2.7% (1995)

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