Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Capital: Hanoi

  • Population 89.7 million
  • Area 329,247 sq km (127,123 sq miles)
  • Major languageVietnamese
  • Major religion Buddhism
  • Life expectancy 73 years (men), 77 years (women)
  • Currency dong
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President: Tran Dai Quang

Vietnamese President Tran Dai QuangImage copyrightEPA

Tran Dai Quang was elected to the largely ceremonial post of president in January 2016.

Secretary-general of the Communist Party: Nguyen Phu Trong

Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu TrongImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The Communist Party holds the real power in Vietnam. It appointed Nguyen Phu Trong as its secretary-general in January 2011, replacing Nong Duc Manh, who retired after 10 years in the post.

He took over as Vietnam faced mounting economic problems, including rising inflation, a growing trade deficit and a weakening currency.

Born in 1944, he also previously served the Communist Party’s chief political theorist.

Nguyen Phu Trong is seen as a conservative.

Prime minister: Nguyen Xuan Phuc

Vietnamese Prime minister Nguyen Xuan PhucImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES

Nguyen Xuan Phuc was elected to the post of prime minister by parliament in April 2016, after being picked to succeed outgoing leader Nguyen Tan Dung at the Communist Party’s congress in January.

Mr Phuc, 61, pledged to improve the business climate and crack down on corruption.

Unlike his charismatic predecessor, he is seen as a team player and a technocrat ready to stick to the party line.


Newspaper vendor in VietnamImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The Communist Party has a strong grip on the media.

Media outlets and journalists risk sanctions for broaching sensitive topics and for criticising the government. But some press titles and online outlets do report on corruption in official circles.

There were 41 million internet users by the end of 2013, out of a population of 94 million (


Ho Chi MinhImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionHo Chi Minh (pictured in 1951) led the resistance against French colonial rule in the First Indochina War

1859-83 – France slowly colonises Indochina.

1940 – Japan takes control of Indochina.

1945 – Ho Chi Minh proclaims independence and establishes the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

1946 – French seek to regain control. Anti-French resistance war – or the First Indochina War – spreads across country.

1954 – Vietnam is partitioned between North and South. Conflict between the two rival states rages for the next two decades, in what is known as the Vietnam War or the Second Indochina War. The US is heavily involved in support of the South.

1975 – Southern cities fall one by one until communist forces seize Saigon.

1976 – Vietnam is reunified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands flee abroad, including many “boat people”.

1979 – Vietnam invades Cambodia and ousts the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot.

US troops during the Vietnam warImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe United States was heavily involved in the Vietnam War

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