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Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula located in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea to the east. Vietnam has a population of over 87 million and is the 13th most populated country in the world. The topography of Vietnam consists of hills and densely forested mountains covering 20% of the land, level land covering 20%, mountains account for 40% of the area, smaller hills account for 40% and tropical forests for 42%. The highest mount, Phan Xi Pang, at 10,312 feet is located in the northern part of the country. The climate of Vietnam tends to vary from place to place due to the differences in latitude and the range of topography of the land. In the northeastern part of the country the winter is very dry due to monsoon winds blowing from the northeast along the China coast. The average temperature is generally higher in the plains than in the mountains and plateaus. The seasons in the mountains and plateaus and in the north are much more dramatic with very cold winters and very hot summers.

The politics of Vietnam are ran as a single-party state. The president is the titular head of state, nominal commander in chief of the military of Vietnam, and chairs the Council on National Defense and Security. The Prime Minister is the head of government and presides over a council of ministers which is composed of 3 deputy prime ministers and 26 ministries and commissions. The National Assembly is the unicameral legislature of the government and consists of 498 members. It is superior to both the executive and judicial branches. The highest court of appeal in the nation, The Supreme People's Court of Vietnam, is also answerable to the National Assembly. The provincial municipal courts and the local courts are beneath the Supreme People's

Court. The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. Older Vietnamese speak French as their second language, but is slowly losing its popularity. English is becoming more popular as a second language because it is taught in schools, while Chinese and Japanese have also become popular. The culture of Vietnam has greatly been influenced by the neighboring country of China. Education and self-betterment are highly valued, due to this, passing the imperial Mandarin exams are the only means for Vietnamese people to socially advance themselves. Musical traditions vary throughout Vietnam. In the North, the music played is Vietnam's oldest and is traditionally more formal. In the central region, classical music shows the influence of Champa culture with its melancholic melodies. Lastly, in the south, music exudes a lively laissez-faire attitude.

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Quick Facts

Population: 91,519,289
Capital: Hanoi
Per-capita GDP: $ 3400
Size: 331,210 km2
Time Zone: (GMT + 07:00 hours) Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta

US State Department

Travel Warning: YES
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Country information is adapted from public domain resources including the CIA World Fact Book and www.Wikipedia.org.
Please report errors or concerns to questions@abroadoffice.net.

Xavier University of Louisiana Center for Intercultural and International Programs