Country of the World Vietnam

About the country Vietnam, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Vietnam forms the eastern edge of the Indochinese Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Except for the coastal plains and two major river deltas--the Red River in the north and the Mekong in the far south--most of the country is mountainous. Vietnam has a monsoonal climate; large areas are covered with rain forest.

Size: 129,607 sq. mi. (335,768 sq. km.).

Population: 47.3 million.

Who Rules: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has an elective National Assembly of nearly 500 members; the prime minister heads the parliamentary government in Hanoi.

Who REALLY Rules: Vietnam, the world's third-most-populous Communist state, is governed by the Vietnamese Communist party (formerly known as the Workers', or Lao Dong, party). In 1976, following the reunification of Vietnam under one government, the Communist party added several southerners to its Politburo. Despite wartime assistance from China and the Soviet Union, Vietnam remains independent of both major Communist powers.

Socialist Vietnam entered the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank through the back door, taking over the seat of South Vietnam. In addition to becoming eligible for loans from these leading institutions of global capitalism, Vietnam pledged to pay back the funds borrowed from these agencies by previous South Vietnamese regimes.

Conditions in the so-called "new economic zones"--remote rural areas where urban inhabitants are being relocated--are scarcely a showcase for Communist successes, with hunger and disease rampant.

Vast numbers of South Vietnamese have been placed in "reeducation camps," the Communist euphemism for forced labor in starvation conditions. Religious expression is repressed; freedom of the press and the right to an open trial do not exist.

In late 1977 border warfare broke out between Vietnam and Cambodia, and on Dec. 31, the former allies severed diplomatic relations.

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